Begets this guy...
Begets this guy.
You can't spell "Beane" without AN, or "Moneyball" for that matter. And AN will forever be a part of this feature film about our beloved A's. Many of our ranks showed up for the long night shoots as fans in the stands for the filming of the Moneyball movie, starring Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis about how Billy used obscure stats to find hidden treasures in the market to field a competitive team on the cheap.
But we all know that story. The story I want to tell you today is about how a member of our community and a rabid A's fan went from obscurity to portraying Brad Pitt/Billy Beane in the movie. That member is me, OptimistPrime.
On July 26th, the first day of filming was scheduled to begin in Oakland at the Coliseum. I had reservations to be a part of the crowd that day, determined to witness this awesome occasion, our beloved A's immortalized on film by none less than Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman, two of the most popular and talented actors in film today.
On this particular day, I was working in my San Francisco location. I was also just getting over a pretty bad cold and was having second thoughts about even going to the shoot, thinking the long night and cold air would probably not be the best idea. At lunchtime I headed over to a local retail store to do some shopping. It was there I randomly encountered a couple who were shopping as well. A conversation was struck up and during the course of the conversation they mentioned they were in town to audition for a feature film. Intrigued, and interested in getting into film myself, I asked how he found out about the audition. "SFCasting.com", he stated. I thanked him and hurried back to the office. I logged on, signed up and perused the casting calls section.
It was there I found a call for body doubles, which is a general term for someone who substitutes for the credited actor of a character in any recorded visual medium, whether videotape or film. It's a step above extra, but no lines. And it is, as I came to find out, a real acting job. There was a call for body doubles for all the principal actors. And for Brad Pitt playing Billy Beane. Do I look like Brad Pitt? Hardly. But I do have the almost exact dimensions of Billy Beane, and since Brad is portraying Billy, the logic here is that when I am on film in the background, I look tall and lanky like Billy.
So, I immediately submit my interest for the part. But that does nothing. The posting says auditions are going to held in the late afternoon that day, so I call the casting company and asked if I could audition. They said it was too late.
Here I am faced with a choice; I am a member of the casting company; signed up, paid my dues and I want to be considered for this part! I match the description, you can't find a guy more suited for the role! So, I did it. I packed up for the day, determined to go to the Coliseum, get in front of the director and get the part.
Upon arriving at the Coli, there was already about 1000 people lined up to be in the crowd. I hate lines. But to the left of the line was a large tent where the extras and actors were checking in. That line was much smaller. So I walked into the tent.
Upon entering the casting tent
There were beautiful women getting their makeup done, no doubt they were going to be portraying the players wives in the crowd. There was quite a bustle of activity as extras were gathered, awaiting to go onto the set. I poked around and found a couple of guys who looked like they worked there and asked for the casting director. He obliged and took me to the head of the line and introduced me to a gentleman who was occupied with checking in extras. He asked me if I had an appointment. I said I had seen the opportunity and drove down to audition. He asked if I had an appointment. I told him the casting company had said it was too late to submit, so I printed out the paper and came down. He waved me off and went back to checking in extras.
Real hot fake hot players wife in makeup
Oh well, I tried.
I milled around the tent, fascinated by all the characters, just tickled to be in the midst of the production. Then I heard a woman call out for the body doubles auditioning. I looked around and a few people got up and headed to the back of the tent. I followed.
She led us to the back of the set behind the Coliseum, where many semis and trailers were set up. Your typical movie set basically. We milled around a bit while we waited for further instructions. There were about 3 guys trying to get the Art Howe/Philip Seymour role, one for Jonah Hill, and one other Billy Beane guy. He was timid and did not really have the look, so I was confident that if they were going to go strictly on stature, I had this. At some point I fully expected someone to ask if I had an appointment or to check us off some checklist.
The woman came back and took us as a group to the wardrobe trailer. Wow! At this point if this is as far as I got I was pretty stoked! The wardrobe woman came out and looked us all up and down and proclaimed me number one as Brad, and her first choices for Hoffman and Hill. Next we were taken to the Hair and to Makeup, and both people there picked me number one. I was in!!!
A huge semi trailer filled with outfits for every actor. Here is David Justice's street clothes and Hatteberg's.
I first went back to wardrobe where I was dressed in Billy Beane attire and then sent back over to Hair and Makeup. The woman who did my Brad Pitt wig was very skilled. I was determined to soak in every moment of this experience and plied her with a ton of questions. She worked on tons of films. Her favorite was doing the hair for the movie "3:10 to Yuma" I spent about an hour having a wig stuck to my head without about 75 bobby pins. She made no secret that my head was "too pointy" for the wig. Gee, thanks.
Next was on to Makeup. Frank was awesome!!! I wish I had a photo of him. He has worked on a million movies. His favorite was "Dances with Wolves". He explained how he had to mix the makeup for the Indians. Awesome! And he was working on me! He affixed my Brad Pitt sideburns and applied some pancake and then escorted me onto the set.
I walked down the center field tunnel, out onto the afternoon sun-drenched field. The crowd was already seated as I walked across the field alone. There was a murmur in the crowd, no doubt people thinking I was someone. Ha! Had them fooled! I entered the set just as the actor portraying Joe Randa lined a rocket right over my head into center field. These were real ballplayers! The Assistant Director of the movie came over and took me to the Diamond level, where I stood against the railing, portraying Billy.
HELLO! I AM ON SET, ON THE FIELD, IN A MOVIE PLAYING BRAD PITT'S DOUBLE!!!!
Funny how people wanted their photo taken with me!
Sorry, lost it there for a moment, but it was about this point that it really hit me. I did it. I got the role in the movie.
Once on set, after my scene, I was pretty much free to roam wherever I wanted on set. I made sure to talk to everyone and met some really amazing, creative and smart people. The umpires were all minor league and collegiate umpires and were funny and stoic, like you would expect umpires to be. The players in the movie were either real actors or ex-ballplayers, and since I was an actor in the movie, they were all very accessible and friendly with me. Notably was Royce Clayton and Chad Kreuter.
Philip Seymour Hoffman! Mancrush alert! My favorite actor in the world wearing my team's hat!
Philip Seymour Hoffman!
Yes, I saw Brad Pitt. He stood right next to me. I did not say a word to him though.
As close as I dared get with my camera
I spent a bunch of time sitting in both dugouts, taking swings on the field, joking with Royce Clayton, the stadium security guards, who were extras in the movie as well.
Watching the actual filming was amazing as well. Bennett Miller is a perfectionist, often shooting scenes over and over and over again. He was funny and relaxed between scenes though.
Bennett Miller seated with A's hat reviewing the scenes just shot.
They called for lunch around 10pm, and all the actors retired to the center field tunnel and the caterer on set had an amazing spread set up under the Coliseum. Prime rib, Shrimp Scampi, Brown rice, grilled veggies, cheesecake....it was a feast! I sat amongst the A's and Royals players, right behind Dave Rinetti, the Operations Manager for the A's.
We were fed like kings!
As the night wore on, I was dragging. Having just started getting over the cold I had a few days prior, adrenaline was no longer enough to sustain me. I sat in the dugout and watched the filming until about 4 in the morning, then they called for the body doubles to be dismissed for the day. I went back to hair, had my wig removed, makeup to remove my sideburns and wardrobe to return my Billy Beane outfit. I was then instructed to return at 4:45pm the next day. I went home and crashed, but not before texting anyone I had ever known that I was Brad Pitt's body double in "Moneyball."
The next day the fairy tale hit a plot twist. It seems that during the next day, when processing the paperwork, it was brought to the casting director's attention that I had not been sent by the casting company. When I arrived I was asked to take a seat and asked how I had heard about the role. I told them how I went on SFCasting and found the role, called the casting company and came down for the audition. They had the casting company on the phone and the assistant director came out as well. It seems they have a name for what happened. It's called "crashing the set" and I was made aware of this by a very upset casting company director. In my haste and enthusiasm to get the role, it seems I did not follow the proper protocol. After we discussed the situation, the assistant director stated that he liked me and that he had no problem with me, so they decided to keep me. The lady on the phone with the casting company said that they would overlook this and work with me as well. Whew! Close call!
I headed back to the set, got into hair and makeup, saying hi to everyone I met the day before, and walked out onto the field once again.
That night I did not really have anymore scenes, but had some great experiences. Sitting around with Rinetti and the A's official bat boys at 2 in the morning joking around, or clowning around with the A's players. I had an awesome conversation with a great guy, Mike Cosgrove playing Tim Hudson. He works with kids now as a coach. He was in the Rockies system and blew out his arm and had back surgery. But he played a spot-on Hudson. When the movie comes out you will see what I mean. He was hitting 85mph easily!
Me and fake Tim....Billy and Huddy back together again!
After two days on set, I was not called back. Apparently Brad has a stand-in who plays him professionally in most movies and he flew up for more close up stuff, leaving me out in the cold for the rest of the shoot.
So, what did I get? I got two SAG vouchers, one away from enough for my SAG card. An autographed baseball from Chad Kreuter and Royce Clayton. About $400 in pay and a story that no one can ever take away from me. I was Brad Pitt's body double in a feature film about our Oakland A's!
On the set of Moneyball
I think my next role is to get into the clubhouse and replace a Matt
Tim Hudson throws a pitch