Actor Josh Duhamel ditched his leading-man look for a scraggly beard and vintage uniform to play a down-on-his-luck baseball player in “Spaceman,” opening in theaters and on VOD Aug. 19.
Based on a true story, the film begins in 1982 on the day that Bill “Spaceman” Lee was released by the Montreal Expos in part due to his penchant for smoking pot. The film, reminiscent of “Bull Durham,” chronicles Lee’s battles to get back to the majors and mend fences with his young kids: The film transcends the game of baseball as it raises provocative questions about love, work-life balance and finding fulfillment after retirement.
What drew you to Bill Lee’s story?
I look for projects that inspire me creatively and that people don’t expect of me. I always wanted to do a sports movie. I’ve played sports my whole life; it’s a huge part of my upbringing. At 43, I knew that if I was going to play an athlete it would be somebody at the tail end of his career -- just barely hanging on. [laughs] I knew a little about Bill Lee growing up. I even had his baseball card. I played baseball, and in college I played football.
You did your own pitching for the film. But you’re right-handed, so how did you learn to pitch with your left hand?
I didn’t. Bill is a southpaw. I’m right-handed. I knew that trying to throw left-handed wouldn’t go well. ... For authenticity, I mimicked what he did on the right side and [in editing] they flipped it.
Jennifer Aniston, 47, recently wrote about the pressures she feels are placed on women as they age regarding their appearance and weight. As a 43-year-old man, do you feel any pressures from the press or social media?
Women are really scrutinized … men not so much. It’s tough to be a woman in entertainment. … I’ve seen them be cruel to my wife [singer Fergie] and to me she’s the most beautiful thing out there. … I wish that women were more celebrated for being curvy and round and looking natural and not rail thin. The truth is: Guys like them better when they’re not super-skinny. … Even for men, it’s all about youth.
As you age, have you made changes to your diet to maintain your physique?
To stay in shape I definitely have to eat better. You can’t outwork a bad diet. Plus, I feel better when I eat better. I really like cookies and ice cream, so it takes a lot of willpower with the diet. … During the day, I eat really well but I have such a craving for chocolate at night that I usually blow it.
After inhabiting Bill Lee’s pro-weed character, what are you views on legalizing marijuana?
I have no issue with it. I don’t really smoke it – almost never anymore. I did for a while. … But I have no issues with [legalizing] it. Why not?