Soderbergh Going Animated with Moneyball's Bill James
The baseball season is now in its 5th week (go Red Sox!) which means there's no better time to talk about baseball movies. MTV recently talked with Steven Soderbergh, who is starting work on his adaptation of Moneyball, a non-fiction book written by Michael Lewis. The book is about manager Billy Beane, who turned the Oakland A's into a successful baseball team using an innovative, statistics-based approach to build the team's roster. We already know that Brad Pitt and Demetri Martin will star, but who will play Bill James, the "stats guru" who has a key role in Lewis' book? No one. "My current plan is to animate him."
Soderbergh explains: "We have this sort of oracle character that appears throughout and declaims various issues and he's essentially supposed to be Bill James… He's your host in a way… The background will be real but the person who is supposed to be him will be animated." One reason why this project is so damn interesting is because I'm curious to see how Soderbergh will turn a non-fiction book into a good movie. Thankfully the story itself is already fascinating enough that Soderbergh won't have to do a lot of work there, but he might have to work out a better narrative. Pick up a copy of the book if you haven't.
So why animation? "It needs a gimmick," Soderbergh says. "It needs something to make it not Masterpiece Theatre. His writer voice is so big, I thought to literalize it is going to actually harm it. I need to make his voice funny and when he comes on you're happy to see it." I'm a huge fan and unwavering supporter of Soderbergh, even when he makes his weird indie films. It's way too early to judge anything like this, of course, but I'm actually getting more and more excited for Moneyball with every new update. A few weeks ago we confirmed Demetri Martin's involvement as well as a handful of real Oakland A's players.
I hate to make this comparison, but this reminds me of The Sandlot, in an odd way. Remember that scene where Babe Ruth appears in Smalls' closet? I love how they made him come to life, like he was stepping out of a black and white TV. Not that what Soderbergh is doing will be anything like that, but it's that kind of idea from another baseball movie that makes me so excited to see what he is whipping up in Moneyball.