Miller brought in Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won an Academy Award for his performance as Truman Capote, to play A's manager Art Howe. (Hoffman's obstinate, dyspeptic take on the obstinate, dyspeptic Howe is a darkly comic gem.) For the role of Brand—for which DePodesta, uncomfortable with the script's portrayal of him, refused to lend his name—he pulled a Billy Beane, going way off the board to cast Hill, best known for his comedic roles in such movies as Superbad and Get Him to the Greek. But the 27-year-old Hill was ready to spread his wings, try something new. His depiction of Brand, the savant Yalie, is a masterpiece of understatement. "As an actor, the willingness to sit in a pregnant pause shows a certain confidence," says Hill. "You don't have to make a meal out of every moment, you can sit and think like you would in real life."
To find the "in" to his character, all Hill had to do was look around. With veteran A-list actors such as Pitt and Hoffman, heavyweight producers like De Luca and Scott Rudin, top-shelf screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, "I kind of felt just like Peter Brand," he recalls, "the youngest person in the room with all these revered professionals."
In Boston in the spring of 2010 to promote Get Him to the Greek, Hill agreed to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. While at Fenway, as part of his prep for Moneyball, he visited Sox G.M. Theo Epstein. "Him and his guy were there, working hard, but having a lot of fun. They were younger guys, and they seemed like they were really good buddies. It seemed like me and my friends, if we had run a baseball team."
How did the first pitch go, he is asked.
"I was proud of my pitch," he says.
Windup or stretch?
"I went for a Hideo-style windup, but it didn't really work."
"F------ heater right down the middle. Broke the catcher's hand."
"I heard the Jugs clocked you in the mid-90s."