Adam Brodyâ??s Lack of Pretense

Published April 17, 2014

Filmmaker Susanna Fogel’s directorial debut, Life Partners (written with collaborator Joni Lefkowitz), takes stock of the complex nuances of female friendship and the struggles that accompany transitioning into adulthood. On the verge of 30, two best friends, Paige, a high-strung lawyer (Community‘s Gillian Jacobs) and Sasha (Leighton Meester), an aspiring musician-cum-receptionist, spend their downtime sleeping over at each other’s houses, drinking rosé, watching America’s Next Top Model, planning getaways to cheap motels, and comparing notes on terrible dates. Or they do until Paige meets Tim, a goofy doctor (played by The O.C.‘s Adam Brody), and the pair starts getting serious.

On the occasion of Life Partners debut tomorrow night at the Tribeca Film Festival, Brody, recently seen in a guest spot on New Girl and playing porn star Harry Reems in Lovelace, called up Interview from Paris, where he was filming the pilot for Whit Stillman’s The Cosmopolitans.

COLLEEN KELSEY: When we first meet your character, he’s defined as this guy who wears message t-shirts that say things like “Pizza Slut” or “Epic Fail” and is obsessed with quoting movies like The Big Lebowski. What did you think about Tim when you first read the script?

ADAM BRODY: It was fun to not have to try to be cool in the slightest. I like his lack of pretense. I think he’s a sweet caring guy but he’s not overly concerned with what people think about him, or the fashions of the day, or what have you. He doesn’t have that many inhibitions. It was fun to do that.

KELSEY: It seems like those little quirks about him are something that Paige is initially repelled by, but then they end up charming her.

BRODY: That’s fair. I think Paige is a stylish individual and I just think, perhaps she wonders if they have enough in common. “These things kind of annoy me, are there other things?” [laughs] You know, is there enough to compensate? Obviously, as it turns out, there is. I don’t even think those are necessarily superficial things that she’s worried about… I mean, maybe a little. All those things make up a person and if you’re going to spend your life with them, you want to have enough in common. Obviously it’s not the most important thing if it’s fashion, but you gotta talk about stuff all day long, so hopefully you have some common ground.

KELSEY: Was there a particular shirt they put you in that you liked the most?

BRODY: God, I had so many. They all sucked. They all sucked equally.

KELSEY: This movie is really about this friendship love affair between Paige and Sasha, and Tim’s this agent of change that shakes things up. How did you approach embodying him in that situation?

BRODY: He’s a little oblivious. He’s maybe too oblivious, to be quite honest. Especially at first. He kind of gets it in the end, but he’s fairly oblivious and lighthearted about the situation. It’s Paige and Sasha’s thing to work out in a way. Tim can kind of just be there and want to see his relationship blossom.

KELSEY: It’s Susanna’s directorial debut—how did you first get involved in the project?

BRODY: It was the old-fashioned agent way. My agent really liked the script. He sent it to me. I thought it was a very fun read, very sweet. It was a movie I wanted to see, it was a part I wanted to play. Susanna and Joni, who wrote it with her and produced it, they’re just awesome. It was Susanna’s first time directing a feature, but she’s directed a lot of short stuff on the Internet before, and she’s been a professional writer for years and years and years. I didn’t feel like I was in green hands at all. She definitely knew what she was doing and was very confident.

KELSEY: So much of the film revolves around ideas about what success or adulthood or relationships can be or are expected to be. Did you find the material to be particularly relatable?

BRODY: I’m a little older, having just gone through that age myself, not that it’s so specific to that age, but you get to a certain age and you start pairing off. In your early twenties, people get in relationships and spend less time with their friends, but it still doesn’t seem to be on average as serious as when you get a little older. I think everyone can relate to it, at least of a certain age.

KELSEY: The film sets up 30 as this time where you have to reevaluate.

BRODY: Of course, in terms of career questions, love questions, and responsibility questions, too. You feel like, well, you’re a full-fledged adult now, so anything that you could’ve passed off as youthfully naïve or charming… you really just have to own who you are. [laughs] I’ll just pick any number at random, but let’s say 30, it just feels like you’re not a kid anymore and also, you’ve done a lot or you had a lot of time. It goes by fast but you can also look back and go, “Wow, there’s some history there.” Whether you haven’t got up off the couch or whether you’ve accomplished a lot, a fair chunk of time has gone by. I think it is a real reality check, certainly, and it doesn’t have to be a bad one. But it does feel like somewhat of a milestone.

KELSEY: Over your career, you’ve done a variety of roles. This film in particular, and I know you also have Growing Up and Other Lives coming up, are really rooted in comedy. Is that something that you’ve been interested and excited to take on lately or is it just the natural order of how work has been coming your way?

BRODY: I think that might be where my natural inclinations lie.  I like just dead-set, no sense of humor, just melodrama, drama occasionally. But most of the time, my favorite drama has comedy in it as well. I think most good dramas have comedy in there. And all of the dramatic actors I look up to are also very funny. My feeling is, anything Robert Downey Jr. can do, I can do worse. In terms of dream roles, not that I could do it justice in remotely the way he did, but Johnny Depp had a lot of stuff in the ’90s that I really like. I’m about at that age now and I’d never claim to be talented like the way he is but, Ed Wood, Hunter S. Thompson. Those are things that interest me a lot. Then again, I would love nothing more than to just be in Step Brothers.

KELSEY: I’m also excited to ask you about The Cosmopolitans, since the news about the pilot came out, everyone is just really excited, myself included. What’s it like re-teaming with Whit?

BRODY: It’s great! I’m in Paris right now, actually, and we just started shooting. It’s really, really exciting for me. He’s one of my absolute favorites and I’m truly nothing short of honored. I was so honored and happy to be in Damsels [in Distress] and I’m such a fan of that movie as a whole, even more so now that I’m in his gang. I love that he’s using me again and it’s definitely one of the highlights of my career to get to work with him multiple times.

KELSEY: I’m sure a lot of things are top secret now that you guys are filming, but is there anything that you can reveal about your character or the show so far?

BRODY: He’s pretty tight with that, but that said, I can’t say that there are any bombshell revelations to be had. I’m playing Batman. That’s about all.

KELSEY: Since this is for Amazon, how do you think Whit’s universe will translate to a television format rather than the cinema?

BRODY: I think it’s great. First of all, he’s a writer by nature. He’s an auteur in the sense of you can completely tell who wrote and directed everything. It’s so distinct. His signature is over everything he does, but first and foremost, above all else, he’s a man of the written word. Even though now television is allowing, when I say television, I mean serialized stuff on all these cable channels, is allowing directors a lot more freedom in terms of what they want to do with the look and feel and camera and they can get a lot more creative that way. Still, a serialized format is a writer’s medium, first and foremost. It’s the writing that is going to make it special, and stand the test of episodes, and so I think he’ll thrive because he’s just a great writer. It makes his stuff more valuable that he’s worked so little, so infrequently over the past 25 years. He only has four movies to his name, even though he’s kind of this great cult figure.

What is so great is that if we end up doing this series, I feel like we’ll have so much Whit, for everyone who’s a fan and I’m nothing if not a huge fan. It’s not just one half hour. We get almost more Whit Stillman than has existed before now, period. If we do just one season, it’s going to equal his output thus far. So I’m really excited just to have more of his work and I think that it’s so precious, because it is kind of precious, but also because it is so scarce. Again, which I like! [laughs] I like great directors who are scarce. Prolific ones are nice too but for me, there’s something about the scarcity that makes it all the more valuable.

LIFE PARTNERS PREMIERES TOMORROW NIGHT AT THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL