It’s not usual to see an Academy Award winning actor in a science fiction thriller – but Adrien Brody, who won his Oscar portraying real-life Holocaust survivor Wladislaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski’s haunting The Pianist, is now taking on the persona of genetic scientist Clive Nicoli in the creepy horror flick Splice. Along with his wife Elsa (Sarah Polley), he has specialized in splicing DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrids. Now they want to go a step further and splice human DNA with the animals, which could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, Clive and Elsa secretly take their experiment underground – the result is Dren (Delphine Chaneac), a creature or uncommon intelligence, but as she grows her existence turns into their worst nightmare.
I spoke with Adrien about his role and the movie, which obviously has social and moral undertones.
What was the initial thing that fascinated you about this, was it your role or the concept of the movie which was so interesting?
The role is really interesting, Clive deals with a lot of complex issues and dilemmas, but I think it just was one of the most strange and unique scripts that I’ve ever read. The levels in which things go wrong, and mistakes that were made and the repercussions of those mistakes and how they affected the characters and their relationship and the rest of the world (is immense).
I like science fiction very much, I like to find characters and subject matter that is complex, and so to find that within that genre is very exciting. It’s fun to do something that has an element of it that’s scary, on a real level I think because the advancements in technology and scientific research in today’s world are not that far off, so this has an element of truth to it.
Were you a little concerned that you had a small budget and you knew that there were going to have to be special effects, were you worried the creature wouldn’t look believable?
Vincenzo Natali, our director, showed me a tremendous amount of material that they’d done, worked on renderings of what Dren would look like. This isn’t just a blind choice (where) I read a script and say, ‘Oh okay, that looks great.’ I like his work very much, I think he’s very talented and he did a tremendous job with this film, especially considering the financial limitations. I liked the people involved, I knew what I was getting into and it was a very creative, collaborative process.
If you look at my resume, most of the films I’ve done are independent movies, so I’m very supportive of that; I’m very understanding of budgetary constraints. What’s most important is the creative process, I’m working with likeminded individuals, and this was very rewarding and tremendously fun to make.
Tell us a little about your character.
Clive is a genius, very successful in his field, and clearly that aspect of his life came easily. He loves his work. He believes in the power of science and is excited about its possibilities. He and Elsa are young, successful and adventurous. They’ve received a lot of praise and enjoy a lot of freedom and, theoretically, it’s a positive thing they’re working toward. But sometimes with that enthusiasm comes carelessness. He ends up in a situation that throws his life into a tailspin because, despite his and Elsa’s intelligence, they’re unprepared for a lot of things in life. They get carried away.
Can you talk about working with Sarah? She said she had a really good time with you.
Sarah is lovely. She’s an amazing person. Obviously she’s a very talented actor but she’s so intelligent, she’s so well-spoken and thoughtful and prepared and has this crazy sense of humor, so it’s pretty ideal.
Delphine was very open and free and very giving to the demands that were needed to play a role like that. She has permanent burns from the adhesive remover on her arms, and she just kept going forward and wasn’t complaining, she’s a remarkable girl. So I had great people around me. Sarah was so much fun, I have to tell you, plodding away at this path that is destined for destruction with her was really fun.
Can you talk about Predators and your character in it?
Predators, I’m very excited. Royce is a tragic, flawed anti-hero, leading man character that I’ve wanted to play for many years. I had to work very hard to get to that point to convince the studio that strength that is often depicted in Hollywood films is often based on a more superficial interpretation. I think real strength comes from within, especially in military minds, and leaders are not necessarily physically imposing but they carry that weight, and they have something within them that I felt that I could convey.
It was an opportunity to incorporate a lot of things that I love into a movie that I saw in theatres when I was 14. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would get this kind of Schwarzenegger role. It is a dream come true to me.