By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Adam Brody is one of Hollywood’s fastest-rising young stars. Having stolen hearts on TV shows including “Gilmore Girls” and “The O.C.” the San Diego-born actor has a growing list of film credits including “Jennifer’s Body” and “Scream 4.”
Brody plays the slick heartbreaker Charlie in Whit Stillman’s “Damsels in Distress,” a comedy set against a college backdrop in which a group of co-eds deal with their troubled relationships with the opposite sex.
At 32, Brody was one of the older cast members, but he explains that by indicating his character is reluctant to graduate and enter the real world.
The boyishly handsome actor recently discussed his new film, working with the up-and-coming writer- director and what’s ahead career-wise.
Front Row Features: How did you get the role?
Adam Brody: I had a situation that had never happened previously or since. I went in for a meeting with Whit. He asked if I would read so I read right there, and he gave me the part right there. I’ve been offered parts and I’ve auditioned for parts, and have gotten them and haven’t gotten them, but I’ve never got a part in the (audition) room. So that was kind of nice.
Front Row Features: How aware of Whit’s earlier films (“The Last Days of Disco,” “Barcelona”) were you before this came your way?
Brody: I wasn’t, actually. I loved the script but literally read it on the way in to the audition. I’d seen “The Last Days of Disco” but over a decade ago. I had enjoyed it but hadn’t revisited it as an adult. After I got the part, I saw all his movies and was star-struck by the time I went to set. I became his biggest fan.
Front Row Features: Did Whit change the character so he was more like you?
Brody: All he did for me was he added a line where I’m in my eighth year at school because I’m older. That was the only modification for me as far as I’m aware. I think I’m five years older than he initially envisioned the part.
Front Row Features: What did Whit put on your reading list?
Brody: He gave me four books: “Persuasion” by Jane Austen, “Scoop” by Evelyn Waugh, “Nine Stories,” by J.D. Salinger and “Childhood, Boyhood, Youth,” by Leo Tolstoy. I read them all. I liked “Persuasion” and I liked “Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.” It feels like a breeze comparatively reading. Since we made the film, I’ve asked him for more to read. He was big on Balzac so I read “Cousin Bette.” I would like to go back and read more Evelyn Waugh, actually.
Front Row Features: You play a porn star in your next film. How do you find your inner Harry Reems in the upcoming “Lovelace?”
Brody: I read his autobiography, “Here Comes Harry Reems,” and I found him to a very happy-go-lucky sort of lovable character. In this interview I watched of him, I saw that he giggled a lot, which I thought was an interesting contradiction for this male, mustachioed porn star. I tried to throw in his giggle a little bit in the movie. It’s written pretty clear. He’s sort of the antithesis of the Chuck Traynor character played by Peter Sarsgaard, who is this brutal, vicious abusive husband. Fortunately, I knew (co-star) Amanda Seyfried prior and was friends with her. I think the idea was for this character to be a sort of safe place for her. It is almost a brotherly-sisterly relationship. We already had that relationship anyway so it was pretty easy. Plus, I got to grow a killer mustache.
Front Row Features: You also did a short film (“BFF”) that was written by Neil LaBute. How was that?
Brody: That was really fun. I did it because many years ago I’d met Neil for something that never happened, and he asked me to do this little film and I jumped at the chance. I thought maybe we’d get to work together and that would be my audition for something else. It worked because I’m doing the filmed version of his play called “Some Girls” in a couple of weeks. So it was fortunate I did the short film.
Front Row Features: What other creative endeavors are you involved in?
Brody: I wrote something that I’d like to make, theoretically, but it depends on so many factors. A lot of people I know have things they’ve written and it’s always about finding money or finding the right person who equals money. I had a pretty idle year last year so it was kind of a creative outlet to keep me busy. So I can carry that around in my back pocket and if I get to make it someday, then great, and if I don’t, it’s still okay, because it was therapeutic.
Front Row Features: Did you learn from watching Whit how to get a grassroots project off the ground?
Brody: I’ve been on enough $1-2 million films to know what you can afford. I definitely wrote with that in mind. The story is such that it was hard to do it completely inexpensively.
Front Row Features: What else did you do during your idle year?
Brody: I made some music with a couple of friends. We put an EP on iTunes. Our band’s called “The Shortcoats.” So I did that and I wrote a script. Those are my extracurricular activities last year.
Front Row Features: Where did the band name come from?
Brody: I’ve got a couple of dogs that are shorthaired.
Front Row Features: Do they make an appearance on the EP?
Brody: There is a dog barking in one song, very briefly, in the opening.