Brad Pitt on "Moneyball," kids and marriage

Brad Pitt's baseball film "Moneyball" is up for multiple Academy Awards - vindication for an actor who has gone to bat for the movie at every turn. Lee Cowan has our Sunday Profile:

He's arguably one of the most famous men on the planet. Together with actress Angelina Jolie, they define "power couple."

But if you think Brad Pitt always gets the star treatment, think again.

Turns out when it came to the movie "Moneyball," a lot of people said NO to Brad Pitt: "Our production was like, you know, the red-headed stepchild on the lot.

"This movie died on the vine, or almost died on the vine several times. Actually DID die, and we had to resuscitate it!"

Melinda Sue Gordon

He plays Billy Beane, in the true story of the general manager of the Oakland A's - a maverick who turned baseball on its head by building a team relying not on star power, but on statistics instead.

The movie is based on the bestseller by Michael Lewis.

"The book deals with, you know, economics, stats, saber metrics . . . nail-biting stuff in the movie theater!" exclaimed Pitt.

It's a BASEBALL movie - that's about a lot MORE than baseball. It's about redefining success.

"This idea of value, what we are worth, what are we worth to ourselves, how do we place value on others. The value of that, our Billy Beane in the film finds, is a very quiet victory. It's his own personal value."

The real Billy Beane - watched it all unfold. When asked what it was like to be played by Brad Pitt, Beane replied, "A dream, wasn't it? You know, it was a little surreal, but there were worse choices."

Beane wasn't wild about a feature film. "I spent about 6 months probably, holding onto the release," he said. "Michael Lewis said, 'Aw, they'll never make the movie, just go ahead and sign it anyway.'"

The math turned out pretty well: "Moneyball" racked up 6 Oscar nominations, including Best Actor, and Best Picture, with Pitt as producer.

But the Academy didn't stop there.

Fox Searchlight

Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" (left) - the OTHER film Pitt produced and starred in this year - also got a Best Picture nomination.

At 48, he's hard to pin down after more than 40 films. He seems as much a character actor as a leading man.

A supporting role as a mental patient in "12 Monkeys" earned him his first Oscar nod in 1995; and he carried "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - an aging-backwards performance that earned him a Best Actor nomination.

"You like mixing it up? You don't like doing something that you've done before

"Yeah, I have this reflex that for better or for worse, makes me want to do the opposite of what I'm supposed to do!" he laughed. "Sometimes it served me well, sometimes it hasn't."

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Missouri, Pitt first thought his calling might be journalism, so he headed off to college. But then, he didn't graduate (though he got really close).

"Here's what happened," Pitt said. "I was two weeks from graduation, and all of my friends had jobs lined up, and it kind of wigged me out that I wasn't ready . . . I didn't have one lined up, nor did I even think to line one up. I just didn't! I just wasn't ready to do that thing."

So he loaded up his car and left the Plains for Hollywood.