My Son the Oscar Contender

The Amazing Adrien's Grand Illusions

I've been blown up before in movies: They totally blew my left ear out in Harrison's Flowers. It still hurts—they forgot to give me earplugs. In Summer of Sam I had to smash a glass on my head. Spike [Lee] said, "Just do it, it's candy glass." I said, "Are you sure it will be all right?" and he said, "It's candy glass!" and I smashed it and cut my head open. I know better now. I know it looks so glamorous, but they can destroy you in the movies.

So I said to Roman: "Has anyone tried this?" and he said, "Don't be a pussy . . . you Hollywood actors . . . don't be a pussy!" And he jumped up and said, "Huh, I'll show you!" He runs into the building, jumps out the window, flies down like Harrison Ford, jumps off the ledge, jumps down in front of me, brushes himself off, and says, "There, somebody did it. Now, do it!"

Tell me about your trip to Auschwitz on your day off. It was probably more disturbing than had I gone on a random visit. I was so immersed in this part, in this history, my own connection to it, my own isolation. The horror of anyone living through that is still hard to imagine. I took some photographs, which probably helped me process it. I tried to make something creative instead of falling into it. In Harrison's Flowers too, I noticed that the camera shielded me. In the war scenes, when you put the camera up to your eyes, it becomes something else, not your experience, but something you can reflect on later. It's no longer something that exists within you, but it exists there, in a single image and you can store it.

Brody: "I know it looks so glamorous, but they can destroy you in the movies."
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Brody: "I know it looks so glamorous, but they can destroy you in the movies."

What was it like seeing The Pianist for the first time? I had to loop in Paris. Roman showed it to me in a private screening room with a few sound engineers. Had they not been there, I probably would have stayed in that room a good hour and would have wept. The film was so subtle and unsentimental, so strong, that I was overwhelmed. I was eating my sweater to prevent myself from crying. At the end of the film, Roman turned to me, "Not bad, huh?"

Related article: J. Hoberman's review of The Pianist

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