This has been an interesting year for Academy Award winning (The Pianist) actor Adrien Brody. He has appeared in two science fiction movies – Splice, and now Predators.
In 1987, Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, introduced one of the most enduring characters in sci-fi history, an invisibility-cloaked extra-terrestrial warrior who wreaked havoc in the jungle.
He back with a 21st century look and feel. Adrien Brody portrays Royce, an ex-military man and reluctant leader of the humans, who have been parachuted onto the island filled with predators.
Brody spoke with us about this new chapter in his career – one he’s been patiently waiting for a long time.
Between this and Splice are you redefining yourself as an actor?
I’ve looked long and hard for an opportunity like this; it’s not something that I just decided upon lately. It’s a challenge, I think, when you’ve established yourself as a certain type of actor, or an actor that has not had an opportunity to be seen in a physical role like this.
I look at this as an opportunity to do something really special within a type of film that I love, and that I feel sometimes historically Hollywood has had an over-reliance on physical brawn as the deciding factor as a way to portray a strong man. But that strength has to come from within.
I felt it was very important, especially in today’s audiences with young people. We’re all unfortunately very familiar with what young soldiers look like and they’re not dissimilar to my build.
I think military leadership comes from, as I said earlier, a tactical and technical confidence and skill set and an intellectual strength, and self-reliance and all these qualities that do make him a leader.
I did feel that I had to make a physical transformation, because I think on one level it’s exciting for an audience to see that. I like to see a heroic character look strong, but I didn’t want to rely on just that transformation for me to convey what I feel is necessary in portraying the leading man in a film.
I know you had to go through a lot of physical training for this movie, but how did you get into this character’s head?
Thank you for (acknowledging) there is more to it than physical abilities. They do go hand-in-hand. It’s an interesting thing, and it’s always surprising to me how much of an emotional and psychological transformation enthuse with the physical transformation. I experienced that also with The Pianist.
Obviously if you feel strong and look good, your confidence level grows and vice versa. In addition to feeling strong I had restricted my diet in a way and my lifestyle in an effort to harness everything that I had (in) my power to be ferocious and keep that contained.
For the first time since college I lifted really heavy weights to put on size and I think that is a very different workout process than I’m used to and that creates additional testosterone and your body chemistry changes.
I felt that physical transformation was important, but I spent a lot of time cultivating the qualities I felt Royce would possess that put him in a leadership position. I poured over military manuals and field guides and read Eastern philosophy as much as I could to create someone who has a sense of control and awareness in the moment.
The ability to not let the fear, that would naturally ensue, paralyze him, but to actually propel him into being a warrior, and the way you have that is from a technical and practical prowess.
Are there any deleted scenes?
I’m sure there’s stuff that didn’t end up in the film. I’ve seen it once and was kind of awestruck at both loving the film and simultaneously being so proud to be in it. I was so excited, it brought me back to being a child and watching Predator and being like, ‘I love this movie,’ and then, ‘That’s me in it.’ It was a gift when I saw it, so I wasn’t dissecting it.
Were you tempted to have your character say amusing remarks?
I think you have opportunities, certain lines you have to be playful with, but for the most part you need to rein it in and be sincere. It was important for me to create a character that young people today can relate to, that they can believe in, that is not superficial and not a superhero, but someone who is flawed and tragic.
This is a man who has suffered tremendous loss, both of his own soul and of people that were dear to him on the path to get to where he is. Being a survivalist in general is a very isolated, very lonely place to be. You above anyone else, and that’s what he’s grappling with, he’s lost most of his humanity but a little remains. So for me to squander it by goofing off would be a waste.
This means too much to me to kind of play with it. I take that responsibility very personally and I feel it’s important for me to deliver that to the audience and for them to have that when they go see a film.
Will there be a sequel?
I think a lot of that is determined by the success of the film and I don’t think that far ahead. I think the idea of reprising a role and going further into that character sounds interesting to me and is something I haven’t had an opportunity to do.
So it would be exciting to watch a character progress or deteriorate. That’s exciting for an actor. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Royce.
What I loved about Royce was that he had this emotional hardness that most of the characters I’ve played don’t come close to possessing, and that’s an interesting state-of-mind to cultivate and stay in.