Sunday Reads: We Chat With the Amazing Adrien Brody

Adrian Brody

Defining Adrien Brody is no easy task. Is he A-list or art house? Is he a big-budget bet or part of Wes Anderson’s mismatched crew of eccentric talents? Is he a New Yorker from Queens or a European aristo? Is he beautiful or… you get the point. His changeability and defiance of categorization are what help him disappear into his roles, and what keeps him working with the world’s greatest directors. While exactly who Adrien Brody is may be hard to pin down, the one thing he always is… is an artist.

Most people know that he was the youngest man to ever take home a Best Actor Oscar for his turn in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, and his memorable trip onstage to collect the award. But not everyone knows about the sacrifices he made to play the role. Beyond the 31-pound weight loss, he learned Chopin (without reading sheet music), sold his apartment and, we hear, even broke up with his girlfriend of the moment to try to feel he had nothing to come home to, like the Holocaust survivors. In addition to having taken the art of acting to extremes, he composes instrumental music that he describes as “cinematic and downtempo,” and, he paints. In fact, on the day we speak, Brody is readying his first show that will reveal his artwork to the public for the first time since he picked up a brush 22 years ago.

“What I love most about painting is the creative autonomy I have, which is not afforded to me as an actor,” explains Brody. “Filmmaking is a collaborative art form and truly a director’s medium of creative expression.” Indeed, when it comes to canvas and paint, finished work begins and ends with the artist. So the success — or failure — of his first show titled Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Handguns, is on his shoulders entirely.

“Whether I’m a commercial success or not, the fulfillment gained from the creation is what’s important. That, and hopefully, bringing some joy, or laughter, or contemplation to someone,” he says.