Although he is clad in black, Adrien Brody’s personality is anything but dark. I sit across from the up-and-coming actor in his posh Four Seasons hotel room, as he sheepishly dunks his tea bag in water and presents an offering of cookies to his interviewers. Minuscule microphones set, pens and notebooks in hand, silence ensues. Brody looks up and smiles to the group until we are sufficiently coaxed into breaking our hush.
Once the conversation begins, it scarcely seems possible for it to end. Brody seems quite happy to oblige us in our quest to dissect his life and work. So what did we learn?
“You can call this piece, ‘Thanks, Mom,'” Brody laughed.
Adrien Brody, a native New Yorker, owes everything to his mom, or so he says. Ever the grateful son, Brody credits his career choice to his mother, photojournalist Sylvia Plachy. Plachy had been shooting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and suggested to her teenage son that he might enjoy taking classes there. So he did.
The greatest gift that his mother gave him, he said, is comfort in front of the camera. Having been consistently photographed from a young age, Brody developed a rapport with the camera. He relates his relationship with his mother to his relationship with the camera, which give him an edge in Hollywood.
Brody has gained recognition in the past in such movies as Summer of Sam and Liberty Heights. More recently he starred in Bread and Roses and The Affair of the Necklace, among others. His latest film, in which he starred opposite Andy MacDowell in Harrison’s Flowers, set for release in DC on Friday March.
Like many actors, Brody began his career on the stage, starring in off-Broadway productions. While he said he appreciates the medium, he harbors a deeper passion for film, claiming that, “It’s a real process, as opposed to living the part. Once you nail it, it’s there forever. My grandkids can watch it and say, ‘Wow, you were crazy, grandpa!'”
It seems to be a little known fact that Brody also played a part in Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. The screenplay was adapted from the novel by James Jones. Brody, then an unknown actor, was ecstatic to play Jones’ autobiographical role. So how can we miss Brody in such an integral part? According to Brody, many hours of tape were edited out of the film and in the end he found himself missing from the production.
“I don’t regret it, but in the end it was a huge disappointment to me, partly because I was reduced,” he said. “There is a complete other movwasn’t well-informed how much the role ie there that I’m in!”
Brody has made a name for himself, starring in films with a strong sense of social responsibility or commentary. His latest endeavor, Harrison’s Flowers, is one such film. He plays the brooding, starving artist type – a photojournalist covering a gruesome war overseas. His character’s trials make bold statements to the audience about the issues presented.
Brody told us, “I’m drawn to socially relevant material. Anything that’s fascinating or difficult makes good drama. I’m drawn to the intensity. The horrors of war are shown (in Harrison’s Flowers) without picking sides. It shows destructiveness of man and war. But its also optimistic in showing a woman’s love amidst this war.”
Regarding the subject matter of the film, he said, “I’m not so easily numbed. It was painful . it put me more in touch with pain and suffering in the world. The level of pain we’ve had to experience is pretty minimal.”
Brody is clearly a man who loves his work. He sees it as both an art form and an opportunity to create social awareness. Without a doubt, he seeks to bring a level of professionalism and honor to his job.
“The beauty of acting is that you can really move people,” he said. “It’s wonderful to expose people to something that they don’t understand, because it’s also something I don’t understand. That is the greatest gift.”