Moe Berg was easily the most fascinating baseball player to ever play the game.
Not because of his skills as an athlete, but because he graduated from Princeton University and Columbia Law School, appeared regularly as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please, and, most importantly, worked as a spy for the United States, traveling to Yugoslavia, Italy and interviewing various physicists concerning the Nazis’ nuclear program.
"The Catcher Was A Spy" revolves around Berg’s mission to Germany in 1944, where he was tasked with speaking to theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg to determine if he was close to making a nuclear bomb. If he was, then Berg had orders to kill Heisenberg.
Paul Rudd was the actor entrusted with bringing Moe Berg to life in “The Catcher Was A Spy,” and in order to fulfil his task the "Ant-Man" star had to learn several languages, as Berg famously knew at least 10.
“Paul took that very, very seriously,” insisted “The Catcher Was A Spy” director Ben Lewin. “He learned the necessary languages, or enough of them, to do the role, and make it seem totally convincing, as if he was naturally fluent in those languages.”
“That was hard work. That’s what an actor has to do. He kind of confronted it head on.”
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But how many languages did Rudd actually learn for “The Catcher Was A Spy”? “Italian, German, French, Latin, Japanese,” Lewin explained, before asking, “so how many was that?”
It wasn’t just Rudd’s ability to quickly and convincingly learn snippets of different languages that convinced Lewin he was the right man to play Berg. In fact, that was close to the bottom of the list, as it was Rudd’s relatability that Lewin really wanted to tap into.
Although, it actually took a bit of time for Rudd to find the character of Berg. “For Paul Rudd, finding the character was a process. There was no particular moment.”
“It was really a matter of trying to make a character that no-one understood understandable. Paul is a very relatable guy. In one way or another he feels like a relatable person, he doesn’t feel like an actor.”
“That for me was an important part of making Moe Berg accessible as a character. Moe had a remoteness about him, Paul Rudd does not, he is very immediate.”
You can see if Paul Rudd and Ben Lewin achieved just that now, as “The Catcher Was A Spy” is finally in cinemas.