Were you nervous in the early parts of the documentary that you weren’t going to find those parallels? That you weren’t going to end up with a story worth telling?
Brody: Not really, because the key was to distill it. That was the challenge. There was so much that was vastly interesting. All the supporting characters in the movie were so interesting. The townspeople that were working and contributing to this with the complexity of their lives. There’s so much that didn’t make it into the movie. My friends and their friends, all these hardworking carpenters and builders. And my experiences in India and going to China. The travelling aspect and the search for Budas that spoke to me. All these things were fascinating to document. I just didn’t know how it would fit in. Most of it got whittled away.
Perhaps it helped me come to terms with much of the disappointment that I was dealing with. It was another creative avenue into something that I set out to do that was creative, but so daunting and ending up being a lot of management. That takes away the joy of the creativity. But setting off with my friend and discussing what gems we mined from it, it’s confessional in a way. It’s ultimately me having someone to confide to. I share it with everyone, but I’m confiding in Kevin along the way about what on Earth I was thinking. Can you imagine this? And this part is going on in my life. I guess there was value to me in that process. That aspect was definitely not a mistake. Embarking on it in the first place might have been but it’s too late for that, and at least there’s definitely growth for me and entertainment for others perhaps.
You said a few minutes ago that it came about at the same time you were moving back from being such a public person. Were you hesitant at all that putting your life out there would contradict that?
Brody: Yes and no. I’ve also had 12 years to adjust to that level of public awareness. I’d been acting for 17 years before The Pianist. Before I won the award and was the youngest Best Actor. Overnight there was this shift. And as beautiful as that was, it was enormous and very challenging. Very difficult to navigate and to keep track of my own goals and values. My own personal interactions with people shifted because people’s perception of me shifted. I didn’t shift, but all of a sudden there was this massive change in who people thought I was, what I was about. I was misconstrued constantly, so I felt the need to retreat a bit and focus on things that were still creative to me. So I could also step away from being that guy and just be myself. Be a guy with a pickup truck, a guy who’ll work on a house. I craved something really real and authentic. I’m much older now, and I’ve lived a lot. I’ve got nothing to be embarrassed about.
I feel that in one way, the journey has been very helpful to me. I didn’t set out on it to do what it did, but I think it helped me. I prefer much simpler things now. A simpler lifestyle. I feel really blessed for the understanding of both sides, and I think most people cannot know both sides unless they’ve experienced it. Even as a working actor for many years, I would know some actors who were of that celebrity status. Their reactions to certain things seemed strange to me. On the other side, I can see how their reactions were justified or their behavior shifted. All that is very interesting. I think people benefit from seeing authenticity. And they benefit from seeing how similar everything really is, even with such a shift. I like that. I’m willing to share that. I’m willing to do that to give that to people. It benefits everyone.
Do you have any plans or ambition to direct a narrative film?
Brody: I don’t have a specific project that I’m committed to. I’ve considered several. I’ve directed some commercials. It’ll definitely happen. I still have to work with my day job and directing will take an enormous amount of time from that. It’s also a very personal journey to direct. You live with the project for a much longer time than you do as an actor. So I have to find the thing that really speaks to me and then I’ll do it.
Are you working on anything exciting now?
Brody: I started a production company. We co-financed and produced a movie that we shot in New York that I was the lead in. It’s called Manhattan Nocturne. It’s a really cool contemporary crime thriller with some film noir elements. It was very exciting to make. I just did a Jackie Chan movie in China that was a big success in Asia. I was a martial arts fighter in that movie. That was really fun and different. I have another movie called Septembers of Shiraz that will be coming out, hopefully soon. It’s a really beautiful movie with Salma Hayek. It’s about the shift that took place in Iran with the shah and the new regime and the revolutionary guard basically taking all the wealthy families, the Jews, and threats to the government, they killed and confiscated their assets. So we were bringing some of that to life.
That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Adrien very much for taking the time to talk!