The son of Hungarian-born photographer Sylvia Plachy and retired history professor Elliot Brody, Adrien Brody grew up an only child in the Woodhaven section of Queens, New York, where he accompanied his mother on assignments for the Village Voice. He credits her with making him feel comfortable in front of the camera. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York.
Despite a strong performance in The Thin Red Line (1998), time constraints forced the director to edit out much of Adrien's part. In spite of his later work with Spike Lee and Barry Levinson, he never became the star many expected he would become until Roman Polanski called on him to play a celebrated Jewish pianist in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. He pulled off a brilliant performance in The Pianist (2002), drawing on the heritage and rare dialect of his Polish grandmother, as well as his father, who lost family members during the Holocaust, and his mother, who fled Communist Hungary as a child during the 1956 uprising against the Soviet Union.
Intense Physical and Mental commitment to his roles
Often plays Intellectuals or artistic types
Frequently plays characters with mental illness'
Is the only actor to win a Best Actor Oscar when nominated alongside four previous Oscar winners.
Has great appreciation for hip-hop music. Like the Beatnuts, one of his favorite groups, Brody is also from Queens.
Performed magic shows at children's birthdays as a child as the Amazing Adrien.
In 2004, Esquire Magazine named him the Best Dressed Man in America.
Once owned and drove a Hummer H2.
Was considered for a role in Pearl Harbor (2001).
Was dressed by Zegna for the Academy Awards.
Is a big hip-hop fan and plans on becoming a producer. He is being mentored by The RZA.
Ranked #21 on VH1's 100 Hottest Hotties.
His father, Elliot Brody, is a retired history teacher of Polish-Jewish descent who lost family members in the Holocaust. His mother Sylvia Plachy, the renown photographer, fled Communist Hungary as a child during the 1956 revolution against Russia.
Taking acting classes as a youth, by age 13 he had done an off-Broadway play and a PBS-TV movie.
In 1992, he was seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident in which he flew over a car and crashed feet-first into a crosswalk. He spent months recuperating.
To prepare for his title role in The Pianist (2002), he learned to play Frédéric Chopin pieces on the piano and shed 30 pounds off his already-thin frame. He cut himself off from his real life by giving up his car and apartment because he felt responsible to those Polish Jews who had suffered greatly and wanted to connect, to some small degree, with their hurt and despair.
Shares a birthday with Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Admits a shot of his parents in a passionate, back-bending embrace inspired his famous kiss with Halle Berry at the Oscars in 2003.
Is the only American actor to win a César, the French equivalent to the Oscar.
Did sessions in an isolation tank, performed prison exercises, and went on a protein diet for his role in The Jacket (2005).
He was furious when his nose was broken during the final fight in Summer of Sam (1999). When he had it fixed, he didn't change it: his nose is one of his most distinctive features and sets him apart from other actors.
Close friends with Asia Argento.
Grew up in the Woodhaven section of Queens in New York.
He signed on to make Bread and Roses (2000) without a script because he trusted the director Ken Loach. Prior to filming, he also went undercover to research life as a union member in Los Angeles, California. He went to conventions and sat in on strike talks. A couple of the members recognized him, but Brody persuaded them not to blow his cover.
Attended CUNY Queens College in the Flushing section of Queens, New York.
Put on 25 pounds of muscle for the role of Royce in Predators (2010).
He attended a charity auction in November 2011 for Artists for Peace & Justice, which was offering "Tea with Gerard Butler" as a bidding item; it was a chance to meet and chat with Butler. Brody's $15,000 bid was the winner. On a whim, Brody offered to host "Champagne with Adrien Brody" as a last-minute addition to the auction, if it could take place later that day; he had a bottle available. Brody's offer was accepted, and it earned an additional $17,000 for the charity.
[Referring to his portrayal of Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman who survived the Holocaust, in The Pianist (2002)] It made me have a much greater understanding of loss, of loneliness, and the level of intense tragedy that so many people have experienced in this world, I take a lot less for granted. It's really valuable to gain that, especially at a young age.
[on his role as the village idiot in The Village (2004)] It just felt like it was the unconventional choice. It was the kind of role that I would have taken prior to the Academy Awards. A lot of actors tend to wait for the perfect role. And that perfect role may never come. I don't want to start changing the way that I view things and become precious.
I was a wild, mischievous kid and I had tremendous imagination. Any experience I had, I'd try to reenact it. I always had an actor within me.
I think to be a well-rounded person, you have to experience good and bad, wonderful moments and pain. You need to meet people who have no exposure to kindness, who lack any opportunity and have no way out--like the homeless, the mentally ill--and you've got to learn empathy for them.
[on his role as Jack in Love the Hard Way (2001)] I identified a lot with that character, I was exorcising the demons that I'd has as a hoody kid in Queens, where you hold your own or wither. So my character out-hustled the hustle.
My dad told me, "It takes fifteen years to be an overnight success", and it took me seventeen and a half years.
[on giving up material possessions and shedding 30 pounds for The Pianist (2002)] There's no comparison to what Wladyslaw Szpilman went through and the suffering that people during the Holocaust, or nations afflicted with famine are going through, but it gave me a much greater understanding of that. And you can't act that. I take the work very seriously.
[on working with Roman Polanski on The Pianist (2002)] We were shooting a scene and he's like, "Adrien, I need you to climb up the building. And I want you to go up to the roof and I want you to climb out the window. And I want you to hang and they're going to shoot at you. And I want you to slide off the building and hold on to the gutter and then you're going to fall". And I said, "Has anyone tried this before?" And he said, "Hollywood actors! Come on, I show you, I show you." And he runs up the building, sixty-eight years old, climbs out the window and hangs from the window, slides down the roof of the building, hangs from the gutter, jumps down to the ground, brushes himself off and he said, "There, somebody did it. Now do it".
[on proclaiming himself a magician at age five] I was an amazing Adrien. I may still be at times. In retrospect, I see that was my first performance. And you know a lot about magic is not just the trick, it's the pattern. It's the delivery. It's the presentation. And this is why you're going to be amazed.
[on Roman Polanski] He wasn't easy on me, ever. He wasn't particularly kind to me, but he wasn't -- he was never disrespectful regarding the work. I grew. I'm stronger, I'm tougher from Roman. I'm tougher. I'm not harder, I'm just tougher.
[on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor] It's interesting, winning an Academy Award as a young man . . . life-changing, but I'm just me within that. It's been very helpful for my career, but I'm trying to stay on the path I was on before.
[on being strapped in a straitjacket and thrown in a body drawer for The Jacket (2005)] Those situations are very challenging, emotionally and psychologically, to find yourself in a confined space like that. I thought it would be interesting. It was very painful and I kind of encouraged that pain. I spent time in an isolation tank -- lots of time -- and I would let them leave me in the jacket and leave me in the drawer for a while.
I'm not the kind of person to deliberately behave differently for the sake of behaving differently, but there are certain things that you have to kind of be true to and sacrifice your own freedom at that time to do.
I've never taken a role for money. I felt it would be wrong - not necessarily a career decision - just wrong.
[on playing hero Jack Driscoll in Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005)] I've always wanted to do something like King Kong. It's a phenomenal role that any actor would kill for. I've been looking for this kind of iconic leading man guy for years, but they are hard to find.
They compare me to Al Pacino -- I admire and appreciate the comparison. But, really, I'd rather be thought of as "the first Adrien Brody," than "the new Al Pacino".
[on growing up in Queens, New York] I hung out with troublemakers. I was a sensitive teenage boy, who luckily had kind parents, but I lived in a not-so-kind neighborhood. In order to deal with it, I toughened up and became more of a hoodier kid. It was never malicious, that's not in my nature, but I was much harder than I am today. Had I not had parents I could talk to, it would have got out of hand.
[on being enrolled into acting classes by his parents when he was a teen] I liked it instantly. Aside from being one of only three boys in a class of 20 girls - the odds were fantastic - I felt I was good at it, it was creative. I had been encouraged by my parents to be outspoken and free, so I was pretty much disinhibited. It was a good outlet for me.
[on his role in The Thin Red Line (1998) being cut down from lead character to bit part] It kind of felt like a soldier coming home after giving his soul and then not being appreciated. At 24, it sucked; it was embarrassing because I would assume if an actor was cut out of a movie of that nature with a director of that caliber it must be as a result of a flaw in the actor's work. Not as a result of a director changing his vision. But you pick yourself up. The advantage of being a bigger name is it costs them too much money to cut you out of a movie.
I suppose that means I'm not easy to define. But that's good, isn't it? In this town they love to define you to death.
Everything is harder than you would imagine, including success. You might think it's lovely to be famous, but if your process is to constantly observe people and human behavior and yet everyone is observing you all the time, how do you do what you do? I never saw that coming as an obstacle.
I don't think anyone saw me as the heroic leading man before I won an Oscar. I'm not sure anyone does now, outside of Peter Jackson.
I would have loved to make a lot of money as an actor. I would have loved to not live in a shitty little apartment for most of the time I've been in Los Angeles. I would have loved to have nice things and bought new cars, but it's painful for me to do a bad role. Personally painful. You feel like you're lying to everybody. It's just not worth it.
I grew up without a lot of money and my parents grew up with far less money. And that's kept me in line. Really in line.
You get a little fame as an actor and suddenly people ask your opinion on world politics and why we're in Iraq. Why is my opinion any more valid than anyone else's? My opinion doesn't count more just because I'm famous now.
[Upon being described as "a young Al Pacino"] I'm a young Adrien Brody, thanks.
[on motorcycling in India] I almost died. I jammed on the brakes, skidded and nearly slammed into it. I was laughing, thinking, "This is the way I'll be remembered: rear-ending a cow".
What guides me is to do work that's more avant-garde - things that I think are special. You can easily become a celebrity and get caught up in all that blur. I just want to work and surprise myself.
[In 2010, regarding fame after The Pianist (2002)] Even though I've had plenty of ups and downs, I didn't have the maturity and the sense of self-awareness to have gotten me through it as positively as I did if I had been in my early twenties. A five-year difference would have had a big impact. Because you have a tremendous amount of attention: All the girls think you're beautiful all of a sudden, and people wanna be your friends - and they genuinely wanna be your friend. I don't feel that it's insincere. You now emanate some sort of light that you didn't have before, and it's created, but it's too much. Even tons of positive energy on one person is still energy, and that does something. There're repercussions for that kind of energy. It's a lot of forces coming right at you, and that's tumultuous for any young person.
[In 2010, on his career] I work when I want to work. I don't feel the pressure that I used to feel as an actor that I may not have an opportunity to work, that I will not find gainful employment with something that inspires me, that I might have to take work just for the sake of working. I feel honestly so fortunate to have that.
[In 2010, on acting] I was always an actor - not in a way that people might presume actors to be, 'cause I believe there's a presumption that they like attention all the time, and that they're very outgoing. Acting is perhaps misunderstood. I'm a relatively shy person. I often liken it to my mother's approach as an artist, because she's a photographer and she sees so much in a situation that very few people might see. She'll see so much happening beneath the surface with an imagery that says something else. And I have a fascination with a similar kind of thing where I see details in people's mannerisms, or beneath something that's said to someone else. All these things that lay beneath the surface and things that are really special and that make us all so unique. Growing up in New York, I encountered so many different kinds of people everywhere. I went to the School of Performing Arts, but I feel like my real acting training came from going to and from school on four different trains each way, because of how many human beings I've encountered, between homeless people and immigrant workers and shark businessmen and every kind of human being - every kind of human being every other step. My natural fascination was that I gravitated toward their mannerisms - not to use as an actor, just because I'm curious, I guess. And rather than capture the image with photography, I feel like I capture it somehow and remember details very specifically, and I retain things very easily and evoke them later.
[In 2010, on acting] An actor has a responsibility [to be] connected and present and able to be very malleable and exist in a space that isn't his or her own on set, and when they're working. I'm not able to fully engage with you when I'm working on a set. I couldn't do an interview justice because it's impossible for me to separate from myself, and then to engage as myself, and then go back to [that character]. So then my producer who needs that interview might say, "Oh, he's being pretentious." But it's detrimental to my process of being truthful [to the character], nothing more. Sometimes I am very gregarious and outgoing, and sometimes I'm not. I'm relatively introverted, and I'll stay by myself; but they'll misinterpret what that is.
[in 2010] The reality is that, for me, acting is somewhat of a painful process. A beautiful process, but a painful one. The more I have to do battle to find truth, the more painful it is if I don't, because film is permanent. So it's important the work I choose is something I can have that confidence in. Otherwise, a movie becomes a permanent reminder of a mistake you made.
[i 2010, on losing or gaining weight for a role] It's exciting when you physically change, when you change your body chemistry and you feel a transformation, it helps you feel a connection to the character. You feel different from yourself. It's another level of involvement.
[in 2010, on adding muscle for Predators (2010)] Putting on weight obviously is more enjoyable, though I was trying to put on lean muscle. So they're both very strict diets. But one diet builds confidence and the other strips it away. The diets are similar, but with volumes more food when you're building muscle. I have a fast metabolism so I had to gain mass and then shred it. I started with heavy weights to put on size; then I did higher repetitions with smaller weights to give the muscles definition. No carbs and I did a workout with more cardio.
[on his first role in Home at Last (1988) (TV), when he was 14] I was in high school and I went off to Nebraska by myself and I loved it. I was playing an orphan from the 1800s and I went wild. I hung out with the wranglers' sons and was riding horses and chewing tobacco and having amazing experiences. I remember when it was over, the director kiddingly said that they were going to turn it into a series. I was ready, I didn't want the experience to end.
[in 2010, on doing a film for the paycheck] Everybody has a price, I'm sure. Often times the jobs you'll be well-compensated for are that way for a reason. The roles that speak to you usually don't have resounding success, or even compensate you fairly. There is a balance you try to strike. Really, if I wasn't an actor, I don't know what the alternative would be. I'm glad I don't have to face that.
|The Village (2004)||$2,750,000|
|King Kong (2005)||$10,000,000|
(September 2008) Attended the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Onatrio, Canada on Sept. 9th.
(June 2009) Attended the 2009 Moscow Film Festival in Moscow, Russia on June 19th.
(June 2009) Attended the Hugo Boss: Paris Fashion Week Menswear in Paris, France on June 25th.
(July 2009) Attended the BOSS Orange Fashion Party: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in Berlin, Germany on July 2nd.
(May 2008) Attended the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 19th.
(December 2007) Attended the CatHouse grand opening at the Luxor Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Dec. 29th.
(September 2007) Attended the 64th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy on September 3rd.
(November 2006) Attended the 2006 MTV European Music Awards in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 2nd.
(October 2006) Attended the Elle Magazine 20th Anniversary Party in Valenica, Spain on October 20th.
(October 2012) Haikou, China: Attended the World Celebrity Pro-Am golf tournament.
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