Actor Jonah Hill arrives at the premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Moneyball" at the Paramount Theatre of the Arts on September 19, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Getty Images)more pics »I was excited to meet Jonah Hill, the deadpanning, hilarious star of comedies like Superbad and Funny People. His new film, Moneyball, is his first professional foray into dramatic work and he's amongst a who's who of Hollywood elite: Brad Pitt,Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Bennett Miller. This could be daunting for a young actor who's done all comedic work. However, Jonah holds his own in the Sony Pictures production of Michael Lewis' bestselling book. Hill appeared calm and relaxed as we sat down at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. We cracked a few jokes at first and I was tempted to invite him to a night on the town while he was in the city. The dude seems like a blast to hang out with. I resisted, however, and we got down to talking about the film.
First, an introduction: Moneyball is the true story of the Oakland Athletics' decison to forgo traditional evaluations of players in favor of a more scientific process. This process revolutionizes the game and makes Oakland's General Manager, Billy Beane, a kind of sports cult hero. Pitt portrays Beane and Hill plays Peter Brand, his right-hand man and assistant GM (based on Beane's real-life assistant Paul DePodesta). Brand is young, highly educated, and doesn't have a lick of baseball experience. He does, however, have belief in the new school philosophy, called sabermetrics. Brand earns the ear of Beane, who is desperate to level the playing field in a sport that allows large-market teams to spend $130 million on payroll while the small teams often can only afford to spend a fraction of that. The film is an underdog story at its core with smart performances and a tremendous script by Sorkin and Zaillian.