Adrien Brody Exclusive Interview – THE BROTHERS BLOOM

     September 12, 2008

Written by Monika Bartyzel

The trick with actors is that no matter how engaging and alluring you find them on-screen, you can never really tell if that’s them, or just an indication of their talents as a performer. That gleam on-camera might turn into a glare off. With some, they’ll amp up the charming charisma in an interview, leaving their real personality safely behind closed doors – you’ll get a pleasant experience, but not one that feels particularly genuine.

I am happy to say that this is not the case with Adrien Brody, star of the upcoming film The Brothers Bloom. Even on an early Saturday morning, tired from the rush of press obligations and schmoozing, Brody was charmingly compelling. Wrapped in a old black leather jacket and full beard, Adrien is both deliberate in his responses and coy – pensive, yet funny. We talked about how he came to be Bloom, the allure of magic, his card-throwing talents, and just a little bit about his upcoming roles. Finally, you can read my review of The Brothers Bloom here.

Collider: How did you get involved with Rian Johnson and this film?

Adrien Brody: Well, they sent a script, and I read the script. I had a meeting. I saw Rian’s work, and I was really impressed with Brick and the screenplay. It was a pretty conventional way of meeting the director in this case. It was a wonderful role. It was a very original and unique story, so I was drawn to it. I was finishing Darjeeling Limited in India. I spoke to Rian from there, and there you have it.

How do you prepare for a role like this? Did you watch any con movies, or try to just make it your own?

Adrien Brody: Well, it was so unique… I often don’t try to draw from other material specifically, like watching other movies. Like, I hadn’t seen the second King Kong before I did King Kong, so I opted not to see it. You know? Even though they were vastly different. I like to try and find it on my own, and I think this was a con artist, con men story, but at the same time, there are elements of broad comedy, and romance, and all of these things that I was attracted to and I was looking to do. It’s such a timeless world. I wanted to let it be something in and of itself – not look to other things to influence me.

Now I have to ask – It’s The Brothers Bloom, and your character’s name is Bloom, so does that make you Bloom Bloom?

Adrien Brody: We’ve had this discussion. *laughs* I don’t know. I have no idea. That’s pretty much it. We’ve joked around about what the first name might be, but we’ve all settled on being happy with “Bloom.” Someone mentioned that it’s The Brothers Bloom, like a verb, which is, actually, a nice observation. So, it is what it is. … Ferdinand Bloom there you go.


Adrien Brody: It just wouldn’t be as cool.

No… Ferdinand just doesn’t flow as much.

Adrien Brody: Nope.

As a kid, you were the Amazing Adrien, performing magic tricks. Bloom seems a bit like that – making something magical into something real. Did you put any of yourself and your childhood memories into this?

Adrien: You know, I have used sleight of hand in other movies. I figured out how to fix an effect that wasn’t working in Oxygen, where I had to pull a wire from under my fingernail. It was a really creepy scene, and the effect that they’d figured out didn’t work. So I did some sleight of hand to make it work. So my magic days paid off for that. I think there was an understanding of the pattern, and the routine, and I think con artistry goes hand in hand with a magician’s routine. It’s much about illusion and pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, rather than acting, which is, I find, much more complex. It’s less about fooling someone. For me at least, it’s finding something to connect to on a deeper level, and then having that almost transform me in a real sense. That becomes more magical then, you know, anything else. If I experience that transformation, then it should visible, rather than making it look as though I’m something that I’m not. It’s difficult, but that is the objective.

Considering your past, I thought it was interesting that while both Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz have scenes where they do tricks with cards, you do not. Did you happen to teach them their moves?

Adrien: Card tricks were not my forte anyway. There was a scene where I was throwing cards off the mountain, but it’s not in the movie. I think I had a deck of cards in that scene, contemplating … tossing them. I’m very good at throwing cards.

Oh, are you?

Adrien: I can throw them pretty far.

How far?

Adrien: Pretty damn far.

Good enough for an Olympic event sort of thing?

Adrien: Oh, I probably could. I’m excellent, as good as anybody.

The film is set today, but the brothers are kind of old-school in their hats, suits, and everything. How do you portray a timeless character that is now, then, and everything in between?

Adrien: That’s a good question. I don’t know… You revel in the ambiguity. When it feels right, it feels right. You know it. I think as far as the costumes were concerned, I loved that it had this look that you couldn’t tell if it was past, or almost futuristic. The film doesn’t get dated, I think. It’s more magical. You’re transported elsewhere. You’re not watching 1986, Germany. You’re somewhere on the coast of Montenegro, with these guys in white suits. And I think also, they’re orphans and they came from a difficult past, so they kind of created these characters that they would like to be. They put on an air of elegance. It’s interesting. Self-created.

There are some basic similarities between the travel and brotherly relationship in this film, and your role in Darjeeling. Did you pull anything out of that character for this film, or do anything to differentiate them?

Adrien: Well, I think the characters are very different. I think Bloom’s journey is much more complex. More tragic. He had far less opportunities than the character I played in Wes’ film. It did have an influence on me, I’m sure. The tone of making that movie kind of warmed me up for this film, and this was right on the heels of that.

Structurally they’re very different.

Adrien: I see similarities. The three brothers, and Bloom, are all going through a crisis, basically. It’s all about handling them in different ways. Bloom goes through a much greater transformation on-screen. He has to really find himself – through Penelope and meeting someone who is so different and full of life. It’s what he was looking for.

Why do you think it is that no matter how much Bloom keeps saying he wants a different life, he comes back to his brother?

Adrien: I think it’s because he doesn’t know himself. Unfortunately, he’s kind of found comfort, perhaps, in these roles. At the same time, instead of finding one personality type to become and imagine himself…Like, you know, when people are young, they look up to people who influence them – their fathers, their teachers, their mothers – and he doesn’t have a parental figure. All he has are these fictional characters that are essentially manipulative things. It’s a very complex place to be, and I think that when the charade is gone, he finds himself being very lost. The shell of a man. When he tries to act beyond that, he’s kind of paralyzed because he doesn’t know how to make those moves on his own. He keeps retreating back to the old patterns. He wants to break free, but just can’t.

He always goes back to Montenegro when he retreats from the life. Why there?

Adrien: There was someone that they knew, some old woman. She was in the movie, and she unfortunately got cut out. But she stayed there. It’s a strange, surreal hideaway – the lone house on an island. It’s a pretty good place to retreat to.

I’d say so.

Adrien: Yeah. You really don’t have to deal with much.

How do you bring it all together – your method of acting and those of your co-stars?

Adrien: It’s hard for me to describe, I guess, someone’s process… It just kind of worked. The key is to listen, when you’re working with people. So whatever they’re bringing, you listen to it, and hopefully they’re listening. When you’re listening to one another, you can answer each other honestly, whether you have a line written or not. And they’re both great actors, as well as Robbie and Rinko… They’re all great. That was a pleasure.

And quickly, what do you have next on your plate?

Adrien: Well, I have Cadillac Records, which is the story of the blues era, and I play Leonard Chess.

Do you know when that’s coming out?

Adrien: I don’t know… Hopefully, I guess, early next year.

I did Splice with Sarah Polley, which is a great sci-fi thriller.

Adrien: That’s much different than…

Yeah, much different.

Adrien: I did a horror thriller, with Dario Argento. [Giallo] I’ve been trying to explore different territories, and have fun, and be creative.

And are there any roles that you’re looking at, or itching to do next?

Adrien: There are a few things that are interesting. Nothing is set, so I can’t really comment on it, but I’m taking a little bit of a break and then we’ll see. If these are inspirational and brave enough, I’ll do them.

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