Adam Brody Interview by Tim Nasson
Adam Jared Brody was born December 15, 1979. He began his acting career in the early 2000s, appearing on the Gilmore Girls and other series, and subsequently came to fame for his role as Seth Cohen on The O.C., establishing his defining screen persona, with Joel Stein of Time having described Brody as having created an “Adam Brody type”, a screen persona of a “nerdy, sarcastic, obscure-reference-laced Jew”. Brody has also appeared in several film roles, including Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Thank You for Smoking and his most current release, In the Land of Women.
Brody was born in San Diego, California, the oldest son of Jewish American parents Mark Brody (a lawyer) and Valerie Siefman (a graphic artist). He has younger twin brothers, Sean and Matt. Brody attended Scripps Ranch High School and grew up in suburban San Diego, spending time surfing. He attended community college for one year and dropped out at the age of nineteen, moving to Hollywood in order to become an actor. He subsequently hired an acting coach and signed with a manager.
After a year of training and auditioning, Brody landed the role of Barry Williams in the TV movie, Growing up Brady. He was cast in recurring roles on Gilmore Girls as Dave Rygalski and the Canadian comedy television series The Sausage Factory. In 2003, he wrote Home Security (a short film), appeared in the feature film Grind, and began playing his most famous role to date, Seth Cohen, a slightly awkward teenager, on the television show The O.C. The role turned Brody into a teen idol, with the character having been described by the Los Angeles Times as “TV’s sexiest geek” and by Time as having “redefined” the screen persona of “unapologetic” nerdiness; his character (defined by director Jon Kasdan as the “new kind of nerdy Jewish guy: both self-deprecating and self-possessed” has since inspired scripts to describe particular characters as “Adam Brody types”. The role also developed Brody a female fan following and as a result, Brody was ranked No. 17 in Independent Online’s “100 Sexiest Men Alive”, was twice placed on Teen People’s annual list of “25 Sexiest Stars under 25″, and was the first male on the cover of ELLEgirl. Brody improvised some of the character’s comic dialogue.
During the show’s run, Brody appeared alongside Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in 2005’s film Mr. & Mrs. Smith and played a Hollywood studio assistant in the 2006 film adaptation of Thank You for Smoking. Brody was signed to a seven-year contract for The O.C., which was eventually cancelled in 2007 and ended its run in February of that year; Brody has said that he is “not unhappy” with the show’s cancellation and that although he was “fortunate” to be on a successful series, he was also glad to “not be on it for 10 years”. After the end of The O.C.’s run, Brody turned to a full-time film career. His next role will be in the film In the Land of Women, a romantic comedy co-starring Meg Ryan and Kristen Stewart and scheduled for a release on April 20, 2007. In the film, Brody plays the lead role, a Hollywood screenwriter who returns to his Michigan hometown. Brody did not have to audition for the part, but was almost unable to appear in the film because of scheduling conflicts with the second season of The O.C.; the film’s director pushed filming back eight months because he wanted Brody to star. The same year, Brody will also appear in supporting roles in the lower budget films Smiley Face, playing a pot dealer, and The Ten, as a skydiver.
Brody, along with actor Zac Efron, was in consideration for the lead part in the film Speed Racer, a role which was eventually given to Emile Hirsch. Brody was also set to produce a remake of Revenge of the Nerds, which was cancelled early during filming.
Brody lives in Los Angeles. He dated The O.C. co-star Rachel Bilson, a three-year relationship that ended in 2006. He and Bilson still share two dogs named Penny Lane and Thurmen Murmen. Brody is friends with director Jon Kasdan.
Brody plays drums for the band Big Japan with actor Bret Harrison. He writes screenplays and songs during his spare time and has co-written, along with Danny Bilson (father of Rachel Bilson) and Paul DeMeo, a comic book miniseries for Wildstorm Comics called Red Menace. Brody has also volunteered as an actor with the Young Storytellers Program, which is dedicated to developing literacy, self-expression and self-esteem in elementary school children.
Brody has described himself as a “fake intellectual” and his sense of humor as sarcastic. He is a secular Jew and has said that he “couldn’t be less religious”.
Wild About Movies recently sat with Adam Brody in Los Angeles in conjunction with his most recent movie role – “In The Land of Women.”
Wild About Movies: How did you come to the project?
Adam Brody: The old-fashioned way. My agent sent the script to me and it worked out nicely. I read it and, it was funny. I hadn’t read the script yet and my agent called me and said ‘I’m sending you the script. It’s really good’ and I went to The Coffee Bean, this was three years ago now, I went to The Coffee Bean to get coffee and Jon, who I did not know yet, was meeting an actress there who I knew so I bumped into her, we said hello and she introduced me to Jon and he said ‘hey, I think I’m meeting you in a couple of days’. I’m like ‘oh, I heard about it. I can’t wait to read it, well we should just meet here in a couple of days.’ I went home and I read it and it was fantastic. I was in from the first page. I knew I would do it if he would have me. We met in the same spot a couple of days later in the evening and he came in and he’s like ‘let’s just go to a bar’. I said ‘all right’. So we went and got a drink and he gave me the part right away. It worked out great. It was a breeze. It was the easiest job I’ve ever gotten in terms of I didn’t have to do anything. I just had to read it. I really lucked out.
Wild About Movies: Was that script you read the original one that was more R-rated?
Adam Brody: Yeah. It’s funny, this thing has undergone… It was a little more rated R and that was it. It was rated R so there was some more cursing. There was a love scene and, not having anything to do with the rating or the indie quality, but I had some more scenes with guys. There was a scene that got cut that I filmed with Clark Gregg where I meet her husband, that’s good, that I liked. There’s a scene on the porn set where you meet my boss. There’s a scene at the end with my best friend who was originally in the diner with me that you finally meet. Just a coincidence. It wasn’t a purposeful thing to excise all the men out of the movie but I think those are just cutting room decisions to keep it at a breezy pace. I don’t know. That said, it is what it is. So much of how it changed doesn’t have to do with the PG-13 rating and the wide release. So much has to do with the nature of filming and editing and things changing through the process and it taking on an unexpected life of its own.
Wild About Movies: Have you ever had a family member embarrass you like the grandma does in this film?
Adam Brody: Yeah, I had my dad embarrass me horribly. The worst mistake I ever did. This was five years ago or maybe more. My dad was in town and I had an audition and I said ‘why don’t you just come with me? I’ve got to do this thing and then we’ll get a bite to eat.’ I was in an audition where there was a mix and match with girls so you read with them. I was reading with this really cute girl. My dad thinks he’s funny. I think he’s funny in the sense of how not funny he is. I’m not just saying that to be a dick. His jokes are bad. We went into the audition and it was fine and we were leaving and I said, ‘I think I want to ask for her number so could you go get the car and I’ll meet you there in a minute’. She came out and I started talking to her and my dad pulls up in the car and like honks the horn and rolls down the window and gives me the thumbs up. I was truly pissed. I was actually like ‘it’s not even funny.’ In hindsight it’s funny but at the time, he said ‘give me a break. She thought it was funny. Come on.’ I’m like ‘it wasn’t, man. You really blew it for me. It’s not funny.’
Wild About Movies: So did you get her number?
Adam Brody: I did but I don’t think she called me back.
Wild About Movies: Do you miss the long hours of TV?
Adam Brody: No. I certainly don’t. Not when I’m sitting in my backyard on Monday morning thinking, ‘wow, I could be in the Cohen kitchen for six hours right now.’ No, I don’t.
Wild About Movies: So what are you doing with the free time?
Adam Brody: I don’t know. I’m sort of figuring that out. It’s the small things. I’m getting adjusted to my old sort of unemployed life where the coffee shop is like eleven, twelve, one, whenever I may get up, is a big part of my day. That’s the first appointment of the day. The matinee I see is on the schedule too. It’s the little things. All little things and it’s really fun actually. I enjoy the routine of making your own Sunday routine Monday through Friday.
Wild About Movies: Are you reading lots of scripts?
Adam Brody: Yeah, of course. I read them too quick. My agent will call me about a script and then it won’t get to me for two days and I’m like pissed….I call him like, ‘just sent it to me. I’ll read it. I’ll get right back to you but, I’m excited. Come on!’ But yeah, absolutely. I wish I could say I was reading tons but I just read what comes my way.
Wild About Movies: Are there women in your life who have inspired you?
Adam Brody: Yeah, I think every relationship I’ve ever been in has been ultimately a good thing and was really a learning experience. I don’t have any horror stories there. I think my mom is fantastic. She’s a really great person and she instilled in us, if nothing else, compassion.
Wild About Movies: Did you have to research soft core porn?
Adam Brody: No, because I used to be in it (he say’s jokingly). That was actually something I brought to it already.
Wild About Movies: Now where did you have this porn experience?
Adam Brody: Well, when I moved to L.A. …. I never did soft core porn. It was very rough for a while and I couldn’t find a job… (he says, laughing).
Wild About Movies: What was it like working with Jon as a first-time director?
Adam Brody: Jon’s fantastic. You would never, ever know it on set. I can’t believe he hasn’t directed a short film. Granted, the household he grew up in is certainly well-versed in film but still, and he wrote it but, it’s not just in the story, in the shooting, for a guy who’s never shot anything, he sure knows a lot about DP’s and lenses and texture and color strips and film stock. It may have been his first thing but he’s absolutely a veteran.
Wild About Movies: How is he to work with for an actor?
Adam Brody: He’s great. He’s also a good actor. He would give me some line readings and do it better than I could do it. Also, the script is really personal to him in more helpful ways. It’s not autobiographical, the story but almost anything anyone says in this movie is either from Jon’s life or from someone very close to him. You ask him why a comma is here and he can tell you the personal story. That was actually very helpful in terms of motivation.
Wild About Movies: You’re a California boy, so would you want to write a story about your high school experience? Would it be anything like the mid-West experience?
Adam Brody: No, I think that’s what Jon’s fascination is with that high school experience, and mine, growing up out here. I grew up in a typical high school, but I spent most of my high school actually at the beach, which the majority of my high school didn’t.
Wild About Movies: Were you ditching?
Adam Brody: No, but I sort of checked out, socially, around high school. I was reminiscing with a friend the other day and, as a result, the beach was its own high school. Everyone had their local beach and a bunch of the surfers from different high schools would go there. As a result, a lot of my high school friends were completely different ages and went to different high schools. And then, I’m friends with a few random bums, who are really crazy people. We still talk about the local bum.
Wild About Movies: Did you have a Big Kahuna on your beach?
Adam Brody: Sort of, yeah. His name was Emmett and, I don’t want to be rude, but he had an arm problem. He was a really sweet guy, and he never wore a wet suit. It was mind-blowing in the winter. But, if I did write a true movie about my youth, it would heavily involve the beach. I don’t know what that is, emotionally. I just know the setting. It’s weird how similar Jon and I are in this. Jon went to Crossroads out here, which is not a typical high school experience either, and Carter is very clearly describing that school in the movie. He has this fascination with the high school of John Hughes, and so do I. I have that fascination with the east coast too, and foliage, and all of that, in this idyllic suburb that I’ve never exactly been to, but I’m pretty sure maybe exists.
Wild About Movies: Did you have any influence on the music in the film?
Adam Brody: Just barely. Jon, obviously, had his opinions and songs picked out. And, we had a great music supervisor on this movie, that does all of Jon’s brother’s movies too. At the end of the day, I weighed in as heavily as I could and I think I got a few songs in there, but I’m really happy with the soundtrack, actually. I think it’s cool. I think it’s also underrated, in the sense that no one’s talking about it, no one’s selling it. I mean, somebody is selling it, but it’s not a big part of this movie, and I actually think it’s a really good soundtrack that is hand-picked. It doesn’t feel like a studio soundtrack. It’s very much a personal reflection of everyone’s tastes that made the movie.
Wild About Movies: You took your dog to the set and it became friendly with the neighbor’s dog?
Adam Brody: Yeah. It was rare on this movie, but all the interiors were shot in the interiors of those houses that we did the exteriors at, which isn’t always the case. So, we spent a lot of time on that block and that street. They don’t have things filmed there — it was on Vancouver Island — so, as a result, the neighbors would come out. We got to know all of them and they would watch. It was really cool. It was a neighborhood thing. At night, everyone would gather around and all the neighbors would be walking their dogs, and they’d chat outside the set. It was really fun. And, yeah, my dog befriended a Boxer up the street. They were fast friends. It was actually great because it was that or my trailer, and she got to go in this backyard and play all day, and then I’d grab her, so it couldn’t have worked out better.
Wild About Movies: What do you think you will miss about ‘The O.C.’?
Adam Brody: Money. Also, the steady job is nice. Even if it can be a drag or doesn’t feel artistically satisfying, there’s something nice about stability. As much as you bitch about your job, there’s some security knowing it’s there. When you do take it away, it’s definitely a different feeling. And, I’d say the people, but I still keep in contact. Everyone I really want to see from there, I do, on a pretty regular basis. Even that part is not too bad.
Wild About Movies Would you ever do an ensemble TV show again?
Adam Brody: Sure, I would. Although, next time around, I will be thinking a little more about schedule and how it’s going to work and what it means for my days of the week. When you’re going to do something for 1-10 years, it’s something to think about. We’ll see if I’m in a position, when that happens, to factor that in.
Wild About Movies: How was working with Meg Ryan?
Adam Brody: It was great. She’s really good in the movie, I think. And, it was nice to do a classic romantic comedy walk-and-talk with Meg Ryan, which is sort of her staple. It was nice. I felt like I was doing a piece of classic cinema. I don’t mean the thing will live on, but the Meg Ryan walk-and-talk is a big deal for me.
Wild About Movies: Was it fun to work with Kristen Stewart?
Adam Brody: Yeah, she’s great. It absolutely was. She’s a fantastic actress.
Wild About Movies: What did you do when you weren’t on set?
Adam Brody: The one thing I didn’t do was have that active a social life there. It was Vancouver Island, so it kind of closes early. And, Jon was my only peer there, and he was so pre-occupied. The director is so much busier than the actors. So, it was me and my dog. There was a dog park right next to the hotel, so I did that and I saw movies. It was kinda lonely, but in a good way. I had a lot of alone time.
Wild About Movies: Talk about what you’ve done since this film.
Adam Brody: I’ve cameoed in a couple independent comedies. And, I did two more seasons of ‘The O.C.’ Now, I have no idea. I truly can’t wait to go to work on something. I did this two years ago now, coming this summer, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into something again. I just don’t know what that will be or when. I don’t even have a preference. I just want it to be good.
Wild About Movies: Is it weird to talk about something you did so long ago?
Adam Brody: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It is. I haven’t even seen it in awhile, but it takes on a life of its own, the more you talk about it and I hear Jon talk about it. It starts to steam roll. It was weird, for a second, going, ‘Alright, I’m going to have to do a bunch of press for this and I’m going to have to dredge up old stories.’ But, now I’m in the thick of it and it feels like I did just do it because I’ve been talking about it for a week.
Wild About Movies: Is there a movie genre you’re dying to do?
Adam Brody: I love all sorts of genres, and I would love to be a part of any kind of quality movie, but I would love to figure out a way that I could be in a movie that’s kind of big. When I say big, I mean explosions. And, I don’t have to be the guy. I can be the funny guy. It’s so funny that Jon wrote this movie and this is the movie we did together because all we talk about is comic book movies and action stuff. We’ll be forever disappointed that this movie doesn’t really necessitate a teaser poster and teaser trailer. I can speak for him too. We’re just huge fans of that. Even more than the summer movies, I like the poster and the whole event film idea. I would love to be involved in something someday that has a big poster, a big teaser and feels big — a big event film.
Wild About Movies: Can you describe ‘Smiley Face,’ and was the Rastafarian hair written in the script?
Adam Brody: I play a pot dealer. I come and do a transaction. As far as the dread locks and tattoos go, that was Gregg Araki. I met with him and he said, “I was thinking this,” and I said, ‘Sure, I’m game. It’s a day, I don’t care. Put me in whatever. The crazier, the better.’ So, I was up for anything.
Wild About Movies: What has been your Sundance experience?
Adam Brody: I was a little underwhelmed. I had been waiting to go for a long, long time, and I really wanted to go. I wanted to wait until I had something there, so I felt like I could go on the rides. It was okay. It was fun. I had a blast. But, it was a weird dichotomy of the most pure movies being made around the world, and the truest artists and people working with the most creative freedom, mixed with the most corporate environment I’ve ever been in, in my life. I’m for the sponsors. I understand, and all that stuff’s great. But, when I’m getting handed blue Direct TV shots, it’s weird. Everything is a red carpet. And, as much as those swag suites are cool, they’re not that cool. I took pictures with a lot of shit I didn’t like and I didn’t want, in the first place. The movies were cool and the people are really nice, but it was a scene, in a way, I wasn’t totally expecting.
Wild About Movies: So, would you go back?
Adam Brody: Yeah, of course. That said, I had a fun time, and I would love to have a reason to go back. I would love to be in a movie that gets in there. But, just as a whole, it just felt like much more of a corporate trade show. And, I knew it wasn’t the arty, independent scene, and that’s fine. I was going for big Hollywood parties. I was. I realized, ‘I know a lot of people here, but really the only actors here are the three people in the movies, that are in town this day.’ I took a lot more pictures than I expected to, at some of these parties. It was a bigger scene in a way I wasn’t expecting. But, I would go back in a second. I still had fun.
Wild About Movies: Are you the kind of guy that girlfriends would come to for advice?
Adam Brody: I think I’m good at that stuff. Absolutely. I think I’m a fairly good communicator, and I can offer some good relationship advice, when asked, I believe. I don’t have a lot of high drama friends, so no one’s ever running to me. If you keep needing to ask for advice a lot, then something’s probably not working.
Wild About Movies: Were you comfortable with this role then?
Adam Brody: Yeah, very much so. I was completely. It was sort of a natural fit. I felt like I got the voice very easy.
Wild About Movies: Are you apprehensive between projects, while you’re looking for the next thing?
Adam Brody: Yeah. I think everyone is. I can’t even believe how fast it moves now. This is an agent-y observation that I wish I wasn’t so aware of, but I am good friends with my agent and we always talk business. It’s fun. It’s like the stock market. But, I can’t believe how fast it moves now. It really is your last project. Film is so unbelievably trendy. There’s so many good actors, but it’s so much about who was in the last successful independent film. Look at the cast of the new ‘Batman’ that they’re filming vs. the ‘Batman’ 10 years ago when everyone in that had been a star for 10 years, minimum. Now, if you look at everyone in it, nobody’s exactly famous famous, and everyone’s in it, based exclusively on their last successful independent film, which is great and I’m happy, and they’re all great actors, but it works so fast now. Of course, there’s anxiety about the next job, but, man, it is so out of your hands that I really am trying to zen out a little and go, ‘Look, I can just work with what I’ve got and it’s not up to me, exactly.’ It isn’t. There’s a lot good actors. There’s a lot of good people that can do what I do. Hopefully, the cards fall in a nice way.