Step 1: Ignore the past
There’s this whole back story which I was oblivious to as it was happening. You know, I didn’t really know anything until all of that went down. I was told more or less the history of what had happened and the condition of the movie and the problems that had occurred and, most importantly, Brad’s determination to get it made and his passion to stick with it, and we just understood it’s something he really wanted to do.
Step 2: Find your angle
It’s the dual track of this character, this story of a guy who’s trying to win baseball games, who’s just extremely competitive and desperate to do a very difficult thing, which is to win a championship with a third of the money as the rich teams. But more interesting to me was what was happening beneath that. It becomes a story about a guy who later in life chooses to be ruthlessly honest and questioning of everything in some kind of search for redemption.
Step 3: Meet Brad Pitt
I flew to L.A. and met with Brad, and we sat and had a long conversation about how to make the movie and what it might be. At that point, I don’t think anybody ever looked back.
Step 4: Don’t worry too much about the book you’re basing it on
The book reports on [Pitt’s character’s back story] with a kind of detail that no movie could possibly cover just because it’s a book. So the way that we ultimately treated that stuff was invented very late and grew from a lot of improvisation.
Step 5: Know that some things won’t be easy
The line from the movie that comes to mind is, “It’s an unfair game.” And life’s unfair, and that’s the truth. It’s just unfair. And how do you deal with that information? How do you manage that? It just seems to always go that way, like you really have to bust some heads to get anywhere.