When I think who should be the leader in an action movie, I definitely don’t think of Adrien Brody. After all, the guy won an Academy Award for his amazing portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, and he’s been busy making Wes Anderson and Rian Johnson movies these past few years. But that’s the reason why he’s such an amazing choice for director Nimród Antal’s Predators, as he’s a great actor that isn’t overexposed in the action genre. In Predators, Brody plays Royce, and he’s one of the killers that the Predators have brought to a hunting planet.
Anyway, last December I got to visit the set of Predators when the production was filming at Robert Rodriguez’ Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas. While on set, I was able to speak with Adrien Brody (along with a few other online journalists) and he discussed making the film, how he prepared for the role, Schwarzenegger impressions, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read the transcript or listen to the audio:
Since some of you might not have seen the Predators trailer, I suggest watching it before the interview.
Like I always do…you can either listen to the interview as an audio file by clicking here or you can read the transcript below. Predators gets released July 9, 2010.
Question: We were told that you might have a six pack for this movie. True or not true?
Adrien Brody: At least a six pack. [laughs] Hey, if I can’t come with that, you know…I have a bit of a responsibility to do that.
Can you talk a little bit about that? I mean, everyone always talks about getting in shape for certain roles. Was this one of these roles that you felt the need to get in shape?
Brody: Well, look. We’re making a very different movie, but there’s always going to be some expectation, especially because of Schwarzenegger making the original PREDATOR and being such a body builder. It’s a very different. You know, I’m not trying to do anything like that. I feel like, in any role that I play, it’s important to look the part, but also within a movie like this, you know, there’s a playfulness that has to come with it, and I think that it’s a balancing act. I feel that, if you open up the newspaper and you see any of the myriad images of G.I.’s today, they’re more my build than anything. What I’m trying to create is an authentic look for it, but also, this is an action movie and you kind of have to look fit. And the important thing for me, rather than a six pack and being kind of buff, is to put on a little size and you know, both as a look and what that does for me as a person, how I feel. To feel strong enough to handle myself in a situation that this guy would be presented. I’m almost twenty…I’m basically up twenty pounds from my last role. I eat all day. [laughs] I work out and that’s part of what comes with this. It’s not the only thing, but it is definitely, I think, an important part of it.
But were you a little bit surprised, I mean, even saying all that, were you surprised to be asked to do this role?
Brody: Um, no. I’m surprised that there’s…I mean, I’m an actor, and I think, you know, it’s…you’re given opportunities and if you do them well, you do your job well, somehow it’s difficult for people to not identify you with parts you’ve played. But I’m very malleable and this is a dream come true for me. I mean, I’ve been trying to play a role of this nature, to get a heroic character in a film like this. And have the ability to play a flawed human being who is also heroic, but not necessarily fall into the mold of what Hollywood had created, and come to it my own way. And to be given that opportunity now is a big honor for me and I love these movies. And when I was a kid, I loved PREDATOR. When I went to see that movie, my friends and I were blown away by it. It’s fun, so my objective is to bring as much authenticity as I can with my work, but at the same time, be playful and keep it fun and exciting. But, no, I’m not. Forever, it was very difficult for me to get a comedy. People thought I was very serious. Partially, not just because of the roles that I played, but when I had to support THE PIANIST, and do the press for the movie, that was my introduction, beyond some people who knew my work from some of the films I had done in the past, that was my introduction to the world. And the topics I was discussing were very serious. And I take the work seriously, I take all that…but I don’t take myself that seriously. What I guess is conveyed is, ‘Oh, what a serious young man that person is.’ And then it’s impossible to be seen differently. And I think it’s very surprising to people when I end up doing films like THE DARJEELING LIMITED or THE BROTHERS BLOOM has humor. You know, so it’s important for me to just find new challenges and to keep it interesting for me, and also people that hopefully want to see my work and see me evolve as an actor.
Can you talk about Royce? He sounds like a real badass.
Brody: He’s somewhat of a badass. He’s, um, Royce is a complicated guy. The bottom line is trying to not be complicated. He’s trying to…he’s someone who’s done everything in his power to shed emotional attachment to things…the antithesis of me. I’m a very emotional person and I try to have empathy and I think it’s an interesting way of viewing the world, to come at it from an opposite perspective. But you know, I think deep down within him, there still lurks within him the human being. But he’s a survivor, and I think ultimately, just like a scientist, there has to be a level of detachment in order to put survival first. And I think that makes him very well suited for the circumstances that he’s found himself in.
What do you think Nimrod brings to this film that wasn’t brought in the original one?
Brody: Well, it’s hard to say. I don’t know what vibe was there when they were shooting. It was a very different time, but I think, working with Nim, he’s got a great enthusiasm as you probably saw. And you know, he really is very passionate about this. This really means a lot to him and I think his excitement helps motivate everyone else and, I mean, we’re all very excited. We’re pretty motivated to bring something. And the look of the film, I don’t know if you can get a sense of it from the monitors, but this looks like you’re stepping out of a Geiger painting. It’s reminiscent of ALIEN and all these kind of movies that I love and the feel is very kind of foreboding and spooky. So if we can create a world, which, you know, with the help of the art director and the DP, and our DP is phenomenal, and when we shot the jungle sequences, you didn’t see any of that, that’s just epic jungle. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’ve traveled a lot. The scale and scope of the jungle we were in was just mind blowing. So if we can create that environment and then live within that environment, it should be a fun ride, I think.
Can you talk about Nim giving you the ‘pancakes compliment’?
Brody: I’ve gotten it. I’ve gotten a few ‘blueberries on top’. [laughs] Yeah, I think his Christmas gift is going to be…whatever I get him, I’m going to get him some pancakes and blueberries as well. [laughs] He’s a sweetheart. I really enjoy working with him.
What about getting to fight Predators and what that means to you…and also, filming some of those action sequences?
Brody: It’s very exciting. I mean it’s pretty bitchin’. [laughs] I mean, I was like sitting with this Predator on a totem pole and we’re in this kind of horrific environment, the camp that we’re shooting in. Once it’s done up and things are burning and carcasses are hanging, it is hell. It is hell. I looked around, and I was like, wow, this is hell. This is what hell would look like. And I’m interacting with the Predator, you know. It was a dream-like moment, because it was so surreal that I was in this situation with something that I grew up with, you know? It had such a significance. And yet, in between shots, he was like, ‘Are you alright, brother? Did I hurt you?’ [laughs] He was choking me out and it’s just funny, chit chatting with this monster with an articulating jaw. And what’s beautiful is that we have something pretty scary to work off of. Sometimes you don’t have that. They didn’t really have that in the original. Half of that movie or two-thirds of that movie they didn’t even know what the Predator was going to look like. They were winging it. I think then they changed it. It was going to be somebody else. You know that whole story.
One of the things that’s cool about the Predator is, well, a little more interesting than cool, at least in the first two movies, is that, despite all the violence and horrific action, both of those characters, the Predator and the hero…sort of come in a weird way to respect and honor one another’s abilities. Is that sort of present in the film and how do you play that?
Brody: Yeah, there is a bit of that. Yeah, I think there is kind of…I agree with you on what…there’s this mutual appreciation of mastery of being such a warrior. There was another draft that had even more of that which I really liked, but I don’t think…we’re not going to go that route. But there is a cool moment. But it can’t be, I mean, it has to be, again, there can be a level of understanding, or essentially being deemed worthy. And enough not to have my spine ripped out. You know? [laughs] And that’s it. It can’t be like, we’re now cool. It has to be handled delicately, where I have to kind of negotiate the situation. And have the upper hand and then keep it at bay, but he’s still a Predator and I’m still a human being. We can’t be pals. But I do think that will be present. That was a really cool part of the original.
Well, obviously there’s Super Predators in this film and there are certain dog-like creatures. How much interaction do you have with the dogs and you mentioned you were fighting a Predator. Which of the Super Predators do you fight?
Brody: I get into it with…I get into it. I don’t know if I should elaborate on it, but I get into it with them. And the dog sequence is pretty awesome. There was kind of a cacophony of different things going on in that one. There was a lot of action happening in that sequence, but the battle between the Predators was the most exciting. We’re not done yet, so it’s interesting to be talking about stuff. I’m chomping at the bit to do some stuff…
You’re done in a week and a half? Two?
Brody: Yeah. About that.
Any close calls or injuries? Or have you stayed pretty healthy?
Brody: I’ve been alright. I’ve clobbered myself a few times. It’s funny because the guy who’s putting on the nicks and scratches was like, ‘I’m telegraphing all the places you’re injuring yourself. But it comes with the territory. I actually feel blessed.
Is this going to be one of those characters or projects that you’re going to be sad to see go?
Brody: I mean, I feel that way…yeah. It’s a fun movie to make, which was part of why I wanted to do it. I thought it would be really fun. It’s fun to show up for work and to transport into another world, to face such extreme danger in such a horrible situation, that you don’t have to really face that, but you can experience it to a certain level. I mean, KING KONG was an amazing thing, interacting with two story creatures and giant gorillas and all that stuff. And I love that. So it is fun. But none of my roles ever fully go. You know? The feelings and things you learn about yourself and others, they always kind of stay with you to a certain extent. You forget a lot. You forget a lot of the details, you forget a lot of the discomforts that come with the challenges of making a movie, but you know, those things linger, and I think they’ve shaped me and kind of helped me evolve anyway and be a little better or a little worse.
That said, would you be up for returning to this character?
If the opportunity presented itself?
Brody: Yeah. I’m pretty game.
How has it been working with Laurence Fishburne?
Brody: Fish is amazing. He’s so cool. Telling war stories from APOCOLYPSE NOW, it’s great. I mean, he brought such a wonderful energy to the movie and it comes in the right spot, and I think people will get a kick out of that, but I don’t think they’ll be taken out of the picture. It will be fun. We came up with a funny exchange, and you’ll have to see the movie. Hopefully they’ll put it in, but some choices that Fish had made gave me an opportunity for something I improvised and they were cracking up. So we’ll see. If I can get them to let me play a little bit, it will be in there.
That’s very important though, not having one particular tone for the whole movie, having some humor…
Brody: Yeah, absolutely.
…mixed in with some violence. So can you talk a little bit about that, with the tone?
Brody: Well, that’s what I was trying to allude to early on, that it’s important to not indulge yourself and the joke, necessarily, over the drama or whatever it is that kind of tells the story and keeps the audience there. But at the same time, you know, those one-liners, or whatever are really…if they work, they’re really fun. We all love them and [in the Schwarzenegger voice] ‘Stick around,’ is really funny. [laughs] Nobody would say that to you if they just stabbed you in a jungle somewhere in the middle of nowhere. See, I’m trying to play Royce in the way…this is the guy I want to be with if the shit hit the fan. This is the guy. This is the go-to guy. He’s got an answer. He’s level headed. He does his business and moves on. But within that, you know, we’re making PREDATORS and I’m constantly trying to incorporate those things and some elements that…I’ve given it a lot of thought. I’m taking it very seriously, but I have a sense of humor about it. [laughs] I take it seriously, but…
Are you trying to say that you have a one-liner or two?
Brody: I’m hoping there’ll be a one-liner or two, yeah. I’ve contributed them. We’ll see if they (unintelligible) the higher powers…beyond me.
Are they written one-liners, or are they all improv?
Brody: I have a few that I’ve asked to put in and some that we’re working on, and well, we have yet to do the couple that I’ve thought of. They’re pretty funny. To me. And then I’ve done a couple that were scripted that I think can be deemed one-liners. So…I’d like there to be. It’s pretty fun. It would be good to have on a reel, at least, somewhere, where you’re very serious and you have all these kinds of movies [laughs] and then you have [in the Schwarzenegger voice] ‘Stick around!’
Is everyone doing Schwarzenegger impressions?
Who’s the best?
Brody: I don’t know. We’re all pretty good at it, it seems.
No one sticks out?
Brody: I’ve done it quite a bit, but…[in the Schwarzenegger voice] ‘Run for the chopper!’ [laughs]
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