THE VILLAGE - Q&A with ADRIEN BRODY
Given the secrecy surrounding the secrecy in the making of THE VILLAGE, what can you say about the movie?
ADRIEN BRODY: Let's talk about the process and Night's idea of us all getting together prior to filming. There was a sort of 19th century boot camp, which I loved. We were living in the woods, camping out in tents. It kind of forced you to get know everybody really well, which I loved. It created a sense of community and at the same time we were learning about these kind of Utopian societies and communities and their structure. You saw people becoming their roles in front of you, which was fantastic. Including myself, I wish I could tell you my experiences there. But I can't. Though I can say that my character was rebellious, so I didn't have to follow the game that everybody else had to follow. It was in character, so I had an excuse to go off and have a blast. It was a thrill, it really was.
So at boot camp did you live life without the benefit of modern conveniences?
ADRIEN BRODY: Yes. We used candles for light, a quill and a pad to write with. It was the first time in ages that I was without my cell phone. I didn't miss the cell phone to tell you the truth. There were no electrical lights and virtually no heat. We had a little gas heater because it was cold at night. We used hot water bottles. Tea was made over big kettles. Food was cooked for us. We weren't about to start preparing our own meals, I think that would have been a lot to ask. At one time we did an Indian sweat lodge. At first this was something about which I was a bit sceptical. I wondered if I wanted to do that...a bunch of white actors doing a Native American thing. I didn't want to be disrespectful. But it was actually very spiritual. It was probably the intense heat and the inhalation of all that smoke that made me more connected to the Earth. But at that time I did feel more connected to the Earth than I had ever been in my entire life. We were in this little sweat lodge that we had built and had put in these hot stones in this pit. And afterwards we left and we were by the lake and I knelt down and literally hugged the earth. I felt this connection to the roundness of the Earth. It was amazing. There was a full moon. Also at boot camp I went out on a canoe and there were wild animals around. It all felt like a summer camp in which I couldn't get into trouble. It was something that I didn't want to end. It was one of those great moments. Then during the filming of the movie we stayed in communal living. The whole core group of actors lived together in a farmhouse. We had separate rooms but we had dinner together and lived together like a family.
It's been suggested that the film refers to both WUTHERING HEIGHTS and THE CRUCIBLE?
ADRIEN BRODY: I can't say but I do think it is a metaphor for society. The dark forces beyond our borders that we are fearful of in the film is very similar to what we are experiencing in the world today. The film is one of those journeys that makes you think about the state of things but it is not forcing things down your throat. It is entertaining and it is a thriller.
Is it scary?
ADRIEN BRODY: It is scary - there are scary moments. I do like scary movies and I like as an actor to scare people. I think Night likes that idea too.
What makes Night such a special filmmaker?
ADRIEN BRODY: He is one of the most unaffected human beings I have ever met. He lives a very simple life with his wife and children; he doesn't leave his home too often, unless he has to. He was lovely to work with. I definitely felt I was working with him, not for him. There are similarities in our age and it was amazing to see this guy tackle so much with this kind of ease. It was inspirational to me.
Did he give you access to the entire script or were there bits he kept secret?
ADRIEN BRODY: I had access to the entire script. My agents didn't have access to the script.
Do you get a particular kick knowing you are part of a film that is so mysterious?
ADRIEN BRODY: Yeah. I like that very much. I like the twists of films. I have had to keep THE VILLAGE's twists a secret from my girlfriend, my representatives, my parents. No one knows. Ultimately I made the decision entirely on my own to take this role. Normally you have a lot of people telling you what to do. It came after the Oscar and I was being offered things but not what I wanted. If there had been something great that was a leading role then I would have been doing that. But I didn't find that. I was not about to be fearful of playing a supporting role in a movie like this because I responded to the role. It has been how I have chosen my roles in the past. I find a director who is interesting and the kind of role that I will learn something from and grow from. It inspired me so I said I would do this small role. It is an interesting thing that happens after you get that kind of recognition (with the Oscar) - you can get paralysed with the desire to make all the right moves, to get to the next level or stay at that level. You can be afraid of knocking yourself to a lower level. I don't believe in that. If you do a bad movie then that is not good for you. But I have read enough to know what I am getting involved with. To do a bad movie just because it is a big movie is a mistake that a lot of people make because they think that being in a big movie is going to do what they think they need for their career. I've been fortunate to not have to do that. Now my real studio debut as a leading man (KING KONG) has all the right elements. I think I am very fortunate.
Is there a lot at risk in doing an iconic film like KING KONG?
ADRIEN BRODY: I'm confident. Peter Jackson is a great filmmaker and if anyone is to tackle that film then it should be him. It has been a passion of his for years.
You must be looking forward to being in New Zealand for the film?
ADRIEN BRODY: It probably is going to be life changing for me. Most things seem to be. I'm open to it. I think it times being that far away from everything will be very difficult. But who knows what that brings? It is going to be a cleaner life for me. So it is an interesting time. There is a lot of pressure. So it will be nice to focus on work, on music, to have time to read and watch films and be with nature. To have a little simpler life away from Hollywood, away from a lot of the bullshit. That is a dream come true, really healthy. It feels right. Struggling with THE PIANIST for six months in Eastern Europe was not very healthy but it was worthwhile on a lot of levels. Even with all the struggling that I did it has made other experiences, like Night's movie, like most of the things I do, a lot easier.
Where do you keep your Oscar?
ADRIEN BRODY: I have given it to someone to hang on to. I could put it somewhere safe but I decided to let it be with some people who enjoy it.
What has the Oscar changed for you?
ADRIEN BRODY: I think it has probably changed a lot, interestingly enough. Your life changes and people around you change - so how can you be the same person when the world changes! It has changed some things for the better. I am still me, in the midst of all this chaos. It is amazing to see how people approach me differently and how their perception of me has changed. But I have not changed that much. I still live a pretty simple life. I don't have an entourage. I am very fortunate in a lot of ways to know what my priorities are. Being exposed to the nonsense of the paparazzi behaviour and the frenzy for it has taken away the mystique and allure. I feel grateful and honoured but when you are living in the middle of something it is very different to what it seems like to other people. Things look extremely glamorous and some are. Like I'm about to drive in a car rally from Paris through Spain and Morocco and then to Cannes. Why am I doing it? Because they can't stop me. I love cars. I could fix an old car but not in the middle of Morocco. My point is I probably would not have been able to do this before the Oscar. This was a real last minute thing. They fitted me in and someone is loaning me the car. That moment at the Oscars has made me more famous than all the movies combined. With that kind of fame there comes familiarity and you'd loan a car to someone that you are really familiar with. You wouldn't loan a car to an actor that you hadn't heard about. But you saw me kiss that girl (Halle Berry) - you know the guy.
What was the most fantastic thing on Oscar night?
ADRIEN BRODY: A combination of the moment and having the clarity of thought to express what I wanted to express. It was to be able to speak about things without over-stepping my boundary and without gushing and losing my mind because it was an overwhelming thing to stand in front of the world. It was the highlight of my career.
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