THE JACKET directed by John Maybury, written by Tom Bleecker, Marc Rocco and Massy Tadjedin, with Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch, Brad Renfro, Laura Marano and Daniel Craig. 103 minutes. A Warner Independent Pictures release. Opens Friday (March 4). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
Park City, Utah - To get to Adrien Brody, you have to descend. This afternoon he's found a corner in the Chimayo restaurant on Park City's Main Street.
Upstairs, co-star Keira Knightley and director John Maybury are busy chatting their way through Sundance film festival interviews. But Brody has escaped to the lower level. He"s stretched out down there in a booth, a collection of pale angles in the dim light. But when he sits up, surprisingly, he looks healthy.
He"s made such a specialty of playing characters wracked and tortured by life that it"s a shock to see him relaxed and dressed for winter hip. He"s sporting a grey cap tilted down over his face and massive 70s sunglasses.
In the movies at least, Adrien Brody is our sacrificial lamb. His Oscar-winning role in Roman Polanski"s The Pianist was the very image of the suffering victim. It"s since ushered in an era of gaunt extremes from the likes of Christian Bale and Ethan Hawke. Now, in The Jacket, Brody endures more punishment, this time as a Gulf War veteran subjected to cruel, mind-bending treatment by psychiatrist Kris Kristofferson.
The movie is a dizzying jumble, but what stands out, as always, is Brody"s intense commitment to capturing the full picture of anguish.
"I"m not trying to play a tormented character all the time," he protests, laughing. "They"re just interesting roles."
Still, he clearly has a taste for it. In The Jacket, his character gets drugged up and locked away in a morgue drawer. Although the acting was only an imitation of life, those scenes struck a claustrophobic nerve he didn"t even know he had.
"It was very difficult to remain in that state," he admits. But he also admits that he would "encourage" that anxious state.
"I"d rile myself up more," he says, "be more disturbed at the discomfort. You can"t say 'Fuck, this sucks, but I"ll stick it through." You gotta start thinking about what if you can"t get out, and if you were on some form of medication that was enhancing the feeling."
To research the role, he even spent time in sensory deprivation chambers.
"Hours on end," he confesses. "Why? Because I guess I am a bit of a masochist. I felt it was important to understand the feelings of disconnecting from my physical self."
Better him than me, which really sums up the entire Adrien Brody filmography. And yet, Brody is also the model for Italian menswear designer Ermenegildo Zegna. Esquire magazine named him its best-dressed of man of last year. He"s clearly got a taste for a nice tailored suit, too.
Given his age and his New York upbringing - he was born to acclaimed photographer Sylvia Plachy - it"s no contradiction at all that the pinstriped, Oscar-winning Brody also produces hiphop beats in his spare time.
"I"m a kid from Queens," he says. "I grew up with a very urban influence, when hiphop was about the struggle of people who are less powerful than the powers that be."
That little quotation from Public Enemy dates his creative formation at exactly 1989.
"Perhaps," he says, "in my work I still identify with those kinds of roles. That"s why I make beats."
Working under the name A. Ranger, he"s contributed to the soundtrack of an indie film called Restaurant with a joint called This Ain"t A Movie. Today he"s walking around Park City with brand new beats.
"A friend of mine, an associate of Dr. Dre"s, let me into his studio. If I had the time," he concludes in in his low, lazy drawl, "I"d be in the studio a lot." firstname.lastname@example.org