Multi-layered actor Adrien Brody has two hot thrillers releasing this summer -- Predators and Splice. He sat down with Buzzine to talk about getting into the characters he plays in these films, and about the controversial subject matter of Splice...
Adrien Brody: I love trying to find things that are unusual. I don’t want to make safe bets. What I want to find are characters that speak to me, and I like to explore different genres. Predators is a no-brainer for me. Anyone who would question why I would make Predators I don’t think really understands, first of all, the journey of an actor. I grew up in Queens and I saw that movie in theaters, and I was blown away by that movie — the first one. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d have the gauntlet passed to me, from Schwarzenegger to little Adrien Brody. It shouldn’t be thought of as anything other than a tremendous amount of accomplishment and work, on my part, and the people that worked on this part, of convincing the studio also of the strength that I can bring, that isn’t necessarily depicted in Hollywood movies. They go with a more superficial thing and superficial elements, and I feel it’s much more complex than that, and much more from within. I put on 25 pounds for the role anyway, just to say, “Okay, I’ll do that as well,” because I wanted to be entertaining and part of the ride of what people wanted to see when they see a movie like that. But that’s not really why I’m in it, and that’s not what I brought to it, but I brought the same kind of discipline that I would to a film like The Pianist. My responsibility is different, but my responsibility on a larger level is not for when I show up to work. Splice is such a unique film — disturbing and complex on so many levels, and yet is an exciting sci-fi horror film and works on so many levels. When I read this, I just thought how morally and ethically complex this was. Also, it’s a frightening story, partially because it’s dealing with things on a real level. Science is at a place where all of this is essentially conceivable.
IH: Is it tough to portray a character that makes so many bad decisions but still makes them relatable and understandable and sympathetic to an audience?
AB: I don’t feel it’s tough. They’re not justifiable, but you can understand how an individual can make mistakes in life, and then often one will perpetuate another, and reeling from the repercussions is exciting and what makes the journey fun for the audience — watching what happens as a result of all the mistakes that have been made. But people make much more foolish mistakes than this on a daily basis — myself included. I think part of what it’s saying is that you can’t afford to make certain mistakes when you’re dealing with genetic research — or push the boundaries; that’s why bioethics committees exist. That’s why things like this take a tremendous amount of restraint, and you have to keep certain ambitions in check. In all fairness, these are two young people who are highly intelligent, who have done groundbreaking achievements in their field, and they’re praised, and it’s about to all be stripped from them. Sarah [Polley]‘s character is very persuasive, and I think Clive has stricter guidelines and boundaries and is much more concerned about the ethical and moral implications than she lets on to be, but they go there and then they’re in it. It’s fun to watch people walk off a cliff, though, even if you’re the guy who’s doing it. It’s really fun.
IH: What was it like to work with Sarah Polley and Delphine Chanéac?
AB: Both of them are gems. Delphine: such a team player. Aside from what you see that she’s had to undergo, from shaving her head and the painful process of the prosthetics every day, what she endured, and having to be half-naked in Canada in the winter alone, she did tremendous work on her character. The sounds and the nuances and the gestures, becoming Dren, is remarkable. I couldn’t have made that connection to that character without that. Both Sarah and Delphine are free and comfortable on set; they’re comfortable in their own skin, and that kind of ease makes the creative collaboration more profound because you have to connect and listen to each other. Obviously, as actors, you have to respond to that, but Sarah is incredibly intelligent and believable, and, at the same time, has a wonderful sense of humor. So we’d laugh a lot about things, and find the humor and perversion and all that in the strange reality in which we were living, and I’m grateful to work with people like that.
AB: That’s also something I considered when I read it, because I thought that was an interesting dynamic to play with. This genre thriller that happens to have a family drama that has some weight, and the dilemmas that young ambitious parents have, when one parent wants a child and the other one is not really ready for it because they’re more focused on their career, and then they have this child, so to speak, and then initially there’s all this attention given to the mother and the mother’s nurturing of the child, and then Clive feels left out. Then the girl matures and starts leaning more toward Daddy, and then Daddy is all screwed up… It’s a very convoluted relationship they have. It’s fascinating to me, to think of all that is entailed in that, let alone all the things that really went wrong and all the strangeness that takes place in this film. Just to play with all the new stresses that come in and raise the stakes was really fun.
IH: Were you comfortable with using scientific terms and working with scientific equipment?
AB: We had a chance to not only learn the lingo, but we worked with geneticists in the lab. Sarah and I got to spend time in the hospital in the genetics research department and work with pipettes and the process of…not quite splicing, but similar techniques. I think it’s important that you have a certain degree of understanding of what you’re doing; you can’t play any character without a basis of that. You can’t play the piano, you can’t do a military role, you can’t play a geneticist unless you know the proper way of handling certain things. Anything I can do to be more familiar with the day-to-day dealings of a character, the better, and frankly, it’s absolutely necessary. You can’t wing anything or you’ll feel like you’re faking it.
IH: Is that what you did with Psycho Ed [High School]?
AB: That was a lifetime of research. Psycho Ed is an amalgam of various types I’ve encountered in my life and is a wonderful, broad comedic role and a wonderful character to play — amazing. What can I say? I played him as almost a weed rafe, like a demonic character, which really was unrelated to marijuana, necessarily, on such another level of being — the dark side of it…but high intelligence. The backstory of that character is that he was an attorney, he went to Tijuana and smoked a laced joint, and never came back. Really funny scenario. I can’t wait for that movie.
IH: If Predators should prove successful, is there any way we’d see you do that series again?
AB: I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say, but I’d love to. That was just epic.
Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Splice' was released on June 4, 2010 and is now on DVD via Warner Home Entertainment.