When author Michael Lewis sold the rights to his book Moneyball he warned that he didn’t see how it could be turned into a movie.
But Brad Pitt, co-producer and star as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane has turned the book into a critically-acclaimed film which opens across the nation Friday. One of the actors featured is Casey Bond, a former outfielder for the Lipscomb Bisons.
Bond was drafted out of Lipscomb by the San Francisco Giants. After his career ended in their farm system Bond decided to give acting a try. After a national commercial and an appearance on the reality show featuring Kiss guitarist Gene Simmons and his family, Bond landed his first major movie role in Moneyball.
“I was born in San Francisco,” Bond said. “I essentially made it to the big leagues in the movie with Oakland. I have some strong connections to the Bay area.”
Bond plays side-arm, submarine pitcher Chad Bradford. Bond had read the book while on the road during his days at Birmingham Southern and he knew Bradford played a large role.
“Usually I read half of a book and then move on to a different one, but I read all of Moneyball,” Bond said. “To be in the film is mind-boggling.
“Back then baseball was everything. Acting was kind of a conscious thought. If I read a book now I think about whether I could play a part or not, but back then that wasn’t the way I thought.”
But until Bond saw the final cut of the film earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival he had no idea how many of his scenes would remain in the film.
“It was truly an amazingly perfect premiere and celebration night, and the film was very well received,” Bond said. “I sat with the rest of the cast in the balcony, and we all received a standing ovation after the film.
“It was great to see my hard work come across on the big screen, and I was very pleased with the outcome.”
The movie also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Oakland manager Art Howe, Jonah Hill as the assistant general manager, Chris Pratt as first baseman Scott Hatteberg and Robin Wright as Beane’s wife.
Bond found his fellow actors willing to help him hone his craft. He had a scene with Pitt and Hill.
“Brad Pitt reached out and offered advice to me,” Bond said. “I thought that was really special. Between takes we would discuss things. He was a stand-up guy.
“One time I went to look at what they call the `play back’. Right after you shoot a scene you have the opportunity to look at it and see how it turned out. I was going to go look at the play back, but Brad stopped me. He told me not to ever look at the first play back.”
Bond also was impressed with Hoffman as well as the rest of the cast and crew.
“Philip was one of my favorites,” Bond said. “He is an all-around amazing actor. Every day at lunch he came over and talked with us. He was very much into baseball. He has studied the game.
“Jonah Hill is one of the kings of the comedy world. Robin Wright was amazing. Chris Pratt is a comedy guy who is on his way up.”
Bond was sought out to help with baseball skills since few members of the cast had played the game on any level.
“No one was above anybody else,” Bond said. “They came to me with questions about the mental perspective of the game and the things baseball players do.”
Bond credits Pitt with bringing the film to the screen after a couple of setbacks. In 2009 director Steven Soderbergh presented a documentary style approach which was rejected by Sony Pictures a couple of days before shooting was scheduled to start.
“He is the biggest reason this film was done,” Bond said. “Brad Pitt was in it from the beginning. He liked the concept of the film. He believed in it.”
Bond was invited to attend both the Toronto Film Festival and the official premier in Oakland. He will be in Nashville Sept. 26, 27 and 28. He will be visiting the Lipscomb campus and attending a special screening of the movie that Lipscomb fans are encouraged to attend Tuesday evening at 7:20 p.m. at the Regal Green Hills Theater.
Bond has formed a production company with two of his friends and has another movie project on tap.
“If you are going to make it out here (Hollywood) the smart thing in my opinion is to learn the entire business,” Bond said. “It has been a little bit hectic lately, but I am looking forward to a homecoming at Lipscomb.”