It was filming day for “The Big Short” at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, which was up and running as usual.
Local actor Jason Bayle knew he was filming a scene with John Magaro, who plays young investor Charlie Geller in the Oscar-nominated financial comedy-drama. Bayle had checked the call sheet, and didn’t expect any surprises.
“They were setting up the scene, and then they call for the first team,” said Bayle, who plays a Goldman Sachs rep. “This dude comes weaving through the crowd. He’s wearing an olive green sport coat, wire glasses and he’s got a beard. He sits down next to me and says, ‘Hi, I’m Brad.’ I take his hand, then really look at him and think, ‘Oh, yes you are!’ ”
The Brad was none other than actor Brad Pitt, who not only stars in the movie but whose production company, Plan B Entertainment, produced it.
“He was incredibly kind,” said Bayle of his fellow actor, whose name was left off the call sheet because it wasn’t a closed set.
Working on the film was a blast for Bayle, a Chicago native who now calls Baton Rouge home.
“I got a call from my agent and looked it up right away,” he said. “I knew the director and knew I wanted to work with him. I was excited to be a part of it. I had this little scene at a blackjack table with Brad Pitt. It was really cool. They used a lot of my stuff in the trailer, but it didn’t all make the movie.”
Bayle got bitten by the acting bug while in high school.
“I started out playing basketball on the freshman team,” he said with a chuckle. “I always thought I was an athletic kid, but by my sophomore year, I learned where my talents actually lay. I had a friend, and he suggested we audition for a play. I knew I could sing really well and act, so I gave it a shot.”
Bayle is one of many Baton Rouge actors who have been seen in the award contender. Other actors from the area who appear in the film include Wayne Péré, who shares a scene with Christian Bale, and Jeffry Griffin, who recently moved to Baton Rouge.
Griffin plays Chris, an assistant to Ryan Gosling’s character — the fast-talking investor Jared Vennett.
“The Big Short,” which is loosely based on Michael Lewis’ 2010 book of the same name, appeared across top 10 lists and is getting an Oscar boost , thanks to taking Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America awards.
The film tackles the financial crisis in 2008 and is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Bale.
With Louisiana’s claim to fame as Hollywood South, Bayle is able to make a career out of acting. He was in “American Horror Story” and “Trumbo,” another Oscar nominee about the blacklisted Hollywood director Dalton Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston.
When he’s not acting, Bayle is teaching, directing and doing commercial work.
“I only started auditioning for films 2½ years ago,” he said. “You can always be reaching for more. I’m just happy to be working on really cool projects.”
One of those projects is 8-month-old daughter Georgia Lorraine. She keeps Bayle and wife Mary quite busy.
Another is the remake of “Roots,” which will be simulcast on A&E, Lifetime and History later this year. Bayle plays Maj. Gen. Forrest.
“I get to take on a part of history … a persona,” he said. “Acting is a chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself. When you’re part of an ensemble, you help others realize their creative vision. When you’re working with another actor and it’s a really good scene and it’s really cooking, that’s the time I feel most alive.”