Some athletes work their whole lives, training every day and sweating through immense physical strain to make it to the cover of Sports Illustrated. As befitting of his otherworldly status, Brad Pitt landed the glossy glory without even liking the game for which he's featured.
Amongst the few other non-athletes who have appeared on the cover are Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale; Stephen Colbert; Bob Hope; Ed Sullivan; Steve McQueen' and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Pitt stars -- as you well know by now -- in the big screen adaptation of "Moneyball," the true life story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane and his work to revolutionize baseball while remaking himself, too. He dove into the world of hardball statistical analysis as he shepherded the project along, but not out of any love for the sport.
"It's shameful how little I know about baseball," he told Sports Illustrated (via Inside SI). "I'm amazed they let me do this movie.... Baseball and I didn't get along that well. I wrestled one year [in high school]. I dove one year. Everything but baseball."
Instead, the passion came from both the personal story of Beane's transformation and how he changed the world around him. Pitt likened the film to some of his favorite, nuanced pictures of the 70s, such as "All The President's Men" and "The French Connection."
"In scripts today, someone has a big epiphany, learns a lesson, then comes out the other side different," Pitt said. "In these older films I'm talking about, the beast at the end of the movie was the same beast in the beginning of the movie. What changed was the world around them, by just a couple of degrees. Nothing monumental. I think that's true about us. We fine‑tune ourselves, but big change is not real."
In an interview with The Huffington Post at the Toronto Film Festival, "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller struck a similar tone, emphasizing not some grand, sweeping change at the end of the film, but the journey of trying to figure out how to cope with inner turmoil.
"It's a drama about a guy who thinks he is trying to win baseball games, who imagines that's the most important thing, has come to believe that in order to be okay with who he is, this thing has to happen," the director explained. "And it ends up being a classic wisdom story, a King Arthur type of thing. You know, get the grail and all will be restored to order. And of course, it's an impossible task but it's the actual journey of the thing that teaches the lesson that needs to be learned. And so you never quite get your hand right around it, but you realize, it's not about the grail."