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(1973– ). American actor.

Acted in: Angels in the Outfield (William Dear 1994); Solo (Norberto Barba 1996); The Singing Detective (Keith GORDON 2003); The Village (M. Night SHYAMALAN 2004); The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan (tv "mockumentary") (Nathaniel Kahn 2004); The Jacket (John Maybury 2005); King Kong (Peter JACKSON 2005); King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie (video game) (Michel Ancel 2005); Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter 2006); Splice (Vincenzo Natali 2009); Predators (Nimrod Antal 2010); Midnight in Paris (Woody ALLEN 2011).

Appeared in documentaries: Inside the Village: A Movie Special (2004); The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes (video) (Mark Rance 2005); Wish You Were Here: A Look Inside 'King Kong'"  (tv) (George Sunga and John Wheeler 2005);  King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries (video) (Michael Pellerin 2005); "King Kong" (2005), episode of HBO: First LookIt's All Gone King Kong (tv) (Steve Kemsley 2005);  Sci-Fi Inside: King Kong (2005); MovieReal: Hollywoodland (tv) (Michael Meadows 2006); Recreating the Eighth Wonder: The Making of 'King Kong'" (Pellerin 2006); A Director's Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the Set of Splice (Philippe H. Bergeron 2010); Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn (Javier Soto 2010).

No doubt, Adrien Brody has a tremendous amount of acting talent, as he has demonstrated in several films, and no doubt, his unexpected Academy Award for The Pianist (2002) was well-deserved. But acting skills alone have never made anyone a star, for achieving that status also requires, among other things, the ability to forge an appealing screen persona by means of wise decisions to pursue certain roles and reject others. And to say the least, after his Oscar win gave him a plethora of choices, Brody has so far failed to demonstrate that ability, and having linked his name to a series of prominent box-office disappointments, and having failed to establish himself as a distinctive screen presence, Brody seems perilously close to fading completely into obscurity. If he is to salvage his career, he must among other things resolve to stay away from anything related to science fiction, a genre which requires actors to appear passionate and sympathetic, and a genre where Brody consistently comes across as cold and self-involved.

After he was mostly inconspicuous in films like Angels in the Outfield and The Singing Detective, the now conspicuous, Oscar-winning Brody began to make the bad decisions which are necessarily the focus of this entry. It is, of course, always a bad decision to appear in any film directed by M. Night SHYAMALAN, but it was particularly stupid to agree to play a slobbering idiot driven to homicide in the risible The Village, a part destined to impress no one in a film now thankfully forgotten. Starring in Peter JACKSON's big-budget remake of King Kong seemed a smarter move at the time, but the problem here was that people who remake King Kong always make the same bad decision, which both gave Brody the opportunity to participate in the film and doomed him to become one reason for its failure. You see, the person who should be the hero of King Kong is the flamboyant entrepreneur who tracks down the giant ape and captures him, as appealingly portrayed by Robert ARMSTRONG in the original film. But in our more politically correct times, directors do not want to celebrate an aggressive exploiter who reeks of condescending colonialism, so they turn the Armstrong figure into a heartless clown and introduce a new male character to serve as the hero. Say what you will about John GUILLERMIN's disastrous 1976 remake, but at least Jeff BRIDGES made a valiant effort to carry that hopeless effort; Adrien Brody, given the same assignment, is a failure from the very get-go, since his purported attraction to Naomi WATTS is always overwhelmed by his obvious preoccupation with preserving his own fragile health, both in pursuing a giant ape in character and in enduring the rigors of filming a big-budget action movie as himself. Thinking about Jackson's film today, you simply cannot remember much about Brody in the film; your attention was pulled elsewhere whenever there was an alternative, and your memory has mercifully erased those scenes in which he was central. Indeed, if Jackson had been preternaturally perceptive while watching the dailies, he might have giddily contemplated saving the film with a last-second rewrite in which King Kong suddenly goes gay and seizes Brody to come with him to the top of the Empire State Building, so that he can be pursued and rescued by Watts (who, unlike Brody, manifestly had both the motivation and the capacity to do the job).

Still, one cannot say that The Village and King Kong were failures simply because of Brody's participation, since as already intimated there are plenty of others to blame for the weaknesses of those films. This is not the case with Hollywoodland, a film of genre interest since in involves one of the earliest and most influential science fiction television series, and a film which is fatally flawed only because Brody was given a major role. For in actuality, Hollywoodland is two films: a well-done and surprisingly well-acted biopic about actor George REEVES and his years of portraying television's Superman, which keeps being annoyingly interrupted by a second film about some seedy, unpleasant creep (Brody) who goes around asking questions about Reeves's death and forming theories about its cause. Now, far be it from me to disparage the acting talents of Ben AFFLECK, particularly while discussing a film in which he was so visibly striving to do his very best as never before in his career, but let's face it: when you're watching a film and are desperately longing for the return of Ben Affleck, there is something seriously, seriously wrong with the actor you are watching in his stead.

After that disaster, as if heeding the advice long ago given in this entry, Brody stuck to low-key comedies and dramas for a few years, but the poor man must still feel driven to be an action hero, for he then accepted two spectacularly inappropriate roles as a scientist spawning horrors in Splice and a mercenary soldier fighting against implacable alien Predators, surely making Brody the most unlikely successor to Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER ever observed on film. Conversely, he seemed an ideal choice to play eccentric artist Salvador Dali in Woody ALLEN's Midnight in Paris, but that shrewd director, as if worried about what this actor might do if allowed to indulge himself, limited him to a cameo appearance.

So, what lies ahead for this skilled but consistently errant performer, whose chances of appearing in one more big hit seem dimmer and dimmer every year? As if fearing the worst, Brody did accept a small role as a voice in the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox, readying himself for the standard backup career of fading stars; he has also begun to dabble in producing and writing, so that if necessary he can earn a living away from the set. If he is determined to primarily continue working as an actor, he must firmly abandon his dreams of big-budget movie stardom and limit himself to realistic dramas in lesser venues—independent film, television, theatre—so I will not be required to revise this entry one more time with an updated list of celluloid horrors.

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