Actor Casey Bond is disappointed the Blue Jays will be on the road next week when he’s in Toronto for the TIFF premiere of the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light.
Bond, a former professional baseball player, is friends with red-hot Jays’ pitchers R.A. Dickey and David Price. Living in Nashville, he regularly bumps into Dickey at the gym of Lipscomb University, where Bond attended university on a baseball scholarship.
“He’s great friends with the college coach,” says Bond, adding he follows Dickey’s Toronto career closely. “I am so excited for him, he’s a wonderful guy.”
He called the knuckleball thrower “a great inspiration. He showed you don’t have to be like everyone else.”
Bond played against Price in college before signing with the San Francisco Giants, and playing centre field in the minor leagues.
Bond made the transition to acting about five years ago, when he was released by the Giants.
He took some acting lessons and, four months after landing in Los Angeles, got a role in Moneyball, where he played former Oakland A’s pitcher Chad Bradford. Although Bond had played centre field in college and professionally, he started off as a pitcher so he had the skills for the part.
The movie starred Brad Pitt and premiered at TIFF in 2011, when Bond first visited the city and attended the festival.
He has portrayed baseball players in other movies including Undrafted, starring Jim Belushi, which has not been released yet.
For I Saw the Light, Bond had to learn to play the fiddle for the role of Jerry Rivers, one of The Drifting Cowboys who were Williams’ band. He studied the instrument for the role and, once cast, was given fiddle lessons so that he could proficiently play all of the tunes in the movie.
Bond is surrounded by the music industry in Nashville and is a huge fan of Williams, who died in 1953 at the age of 29 on his way to a concert.
“To learn his songs was incredible.”
After the film wrapped, Bond was contacted by Rivers’ family, who invited him over for dinner and regaled him with Hank Williams stories. He was handed the deceased Rivers’ fiddle and began to play “Hey, Good Lookin” — Williams’ 1951 hit.
“To have these pieces of history in my hand, that was special.”
I Saw the Light is based on Colin Escott’s award-winning biography and stars Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, David Krumholtz and Cherry Jones. It screens Friday Sept. 11 and Saturday Sept. 12. Details at tiff.net.