ADRIEN BRODY’S BIOGRAPHY
Adrien Brody (born April 14, 1973) is an American actor. He received widespread recognition and subsequent acclaim after starring in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002). He is the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, at 29 years old.
Brody was born in Woodhaven, Queens, New York, the son of Sylvia Plachy, a photojournalist, and Elliot Brody, a retired history professor and painter. Brody’s father is of Polish-Jewish descent; Brody’s Catholic mother was born in Budapest, Hungary, the daughter of a Catholic Hungarian aristocrat father and a Czech Jewish mother. As a child, Brody performed magic shows at children’s birthday parties as “The Amazing Adrien”. He attended the Joseph Pulitzer Middle School (I.S.145) and New York’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (famous as the inspiration for television’s Fame). His parents enrolled him in acting classes to distance him from the dangerous kids with whom he associated. He attended summer camp at Long Lake Camp for the Arts in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Brody attended New York’s Queens College from 1991 to 1993, majoring in Performance Art, but returned to acting before graduation.
In 1992, Brody was seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident in which he flew over a car and crashed head-first into a crosswalk. He spent months recuperating. He has broken his nose three times doing stunts. His nose was broken once again during the filming of Summer of Sam.
Taking acting classes as a youth, by age thirteen, he had done an off-Broadway play and a PBS-TV-movie. Brody hovered on the brink of stardom, receiving an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in the 1998 film Restaurant and later praise for his roles in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam and Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. He received widespread recognition when he was cast as the lead in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002). To prepare for the role, Brody withdrew for months, gave up his apartment and his car, was left by his then-girlfriend, learned how to play Chopin on the piano, and lost 29 lbs (13 kg). The role won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, making him, at 29, the youngest actor ever to win the award, and to date the only winner under the age of 30. He also won a César Award for his performance, becoming one of two American actors to win one, along with Johnny Depp. Throughout his career, Brody has been compared to Al Pacino for his unique looks and method acting. He is also widely known for giving presenter Halle Berry a back-breaking kiss before accepting his Best Actor Oscar, and as the spokesman for fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna.
Brody appeared on Saturday Night Live on May 10, 2003, his first TV work, but he was banned from the show after giving an improvised introduction while wearing faux dreadlocks for Jamaican reggae musical guest Sean Paul (the show’s producer, Lorne Michaels, is notorious for hating unscripted performances). However, the unscripted intro remains in reruns of the episode. Other TV appearances include NBC’s The Today Show and on MTV’s Punk’d after being tricked by Ashton Kutcher.
After The Pianist Brody appeared in four very different movies. In Dummy (released in 2003 but originally shot in 2000, just prior to his work in The Pianist) he portrayed Steven Schoichet, a “socially retarded” aspiring ventriloquist in pursuit of a love interest (his employment counsellor). He learned ventriloquism and puppetry for the role (under the tutelage of actor/ventriloquist Alan Semok) convincingly enough to perform all of the voice stunts and puppet manipulation live on set in real time, with no subsequent post dubbing. He played Noah Percy, a mentally disabled young man, in the movie The Village, by M. Night Shyamalan, shell-shocked war veteran Jack Starks in The Jacket, writer Jack Driscoll in the 2005 King Kong remake, and father-to-be Peter Whitman in The Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson. King Kong was both critical and box office success; it grossed $550 million worldwide and is Brody’s most successful movie to date in monetary terms. He also played a detective in Hollywoodland. He has also appeared in Diet Coke commercials and Tori Amos’ music video for “A Sorta Fairytale”.
On January 5, 2006, Brody confirmed speculation that he indeed was interested and very willing to play the role of The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. However, Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. eventually decided to cast Heath Ledger as The Joker. He was also in talks with Paramount to play Spock in J. J. Abrams Star Trek XI, but it ultimately went to Zachary Quinto. In “Hollywoodland” (2006), he portrayed Louis Simo, a down-on-his-luck private investigator who digs into the tawdry life and mysterious death of “Superman” actor George Reeves (Ben Affleck), whose apparent murder leads to dark and complicated revelations about the famed TV actor, while he learns about his own connection to the events. Though most of the praise went to Affleck for his surprising turn as Reeves, Brody, nonetheless was cited for his strong turn as a man on the fringe. In 2006, Brody filmed “Manolete,” a Spanish-made look at the famed 1940s bullfighter who had a passionate love affair with tempestuous actress Lupe Sino (Penélope Cruz) until he was killed in the ring in 1947. He next joined forces with acclaimed indie filmmaker Wes Anderson for “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007), the director’s rather uninspired dramedy about three brothers (Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson) who embark on a spiritual journey across India following their father’s death.
Brody next played real-life record producer Leonard Chess in “Cadillac Records” (2008), a highly fictionalized look at the man who launched the careers of Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Chuck Berry (Mos Def) and Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles). Despite director Darnell Martin’s liberal use of creative license – she ignored facts about Chess not paying his musicians and even removed his brother, with whom Chess formed his record company, from the equation – the filmed was cited by several critics for award-worthy performances, particularly from Brody. Meanwhile, he starred in the caper dramedy, “The Brothers Bloom” (2009), playing a successful con artist partnered with his brother (Mark Ruffalo) and their sidekick (Rinko Kikuchi), who falls for a beautiful heiress (Rachel Weisz) while trying to relieve her of $2.5 million. Also in 2009, Brody starred in Splice, a science fiction film directed by Vincenzo Natali. Most recently, he played the star role of Royce in Predators (a sequel to the original Predator), directed by Nimród Antal and produced by Robert Rodriguez.