Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Dragon Blade" Premiere in Singapore: Adrien Brody Shares About Being in A Martial Arts Flick

Adrien Brody caught the attention of the world in 2002 when he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for "The Pianist". He was 29 years old, and his record of being the youngest actor to ever receive the award has yet to be broken.

Now at 41 years of age, the tall and lanky Adrien was here in Red Dot Island for the gala premiere of historical martial arts movie, "Dragon Blade". In the movie, Adrien was the protagonist, a cruel Roman ruler named Tiberius.

He was part of the entourage which consisted of his other co-stars - action superstar Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Chon SiWon, Lin Peng and Wang Ruo Xin. A few hours prior, the group had fielded questions from a hoard of photo-hungry media folks at the press conference. Red Dot Island was their first stop of a whirlwind promotional tour for the film, and during the press con, Adrien looked visibly jet-lagged. Yet, from time to time, a slow smile would form on his trademark lugubrious features.

That same afternoon, together with her favourite movie-watching companion Vernon, Red Dot Diva was patiently waiting outside the 22nd level of Pan Pacific hotel for their roundtable slot with Adrien. When they were finally ushered into the room, Adrien (who was dressed in a simple yet stylish combi of dark greyish sweater, blue jeans and white striped scarf), was already standing, politely greeting each media person with a firm handshake.

Strangely enough, most of the journalists seemed to favour taking up space on the other end of the table from where Adrien was at, so ever the opportunist, Red Dot Diva decided to position herself right opposite him. As everyone got ready for the interview, Adrien folded his daddy-long legs and settled into his seat in a languid manner, taking a few choice sips of water from a glass.

Red Dot Diva attempted to break the awkward silence.

"How are you feeling?", she asked Adrien.
His clear green eyes settled on her, sending a quiver to Diva's heart. "Good. I'm good," he said in an easy tone of voice. "How are you?"
"Good, I'm good!"
"I'm very excited about the movie," he added, as he looked keenly at her again. (Damn, those mesmerizing green eyes! Diva got lost in them for a few quiet pauses. Why wasn't anyone else saying anything?!?) As Diva tried to read his intentions, she thought that Adrien, with his unique looks, was one of those actors who looked even more handsome in person.
"I'm excited about seeing it tonight. I haven't watched it yet!"
"Oh. It's an epic action film. Lots of fun."

That was when Red Dot Diva was just about to segue into her first question, when a few more reporters were rushed into the meeting room. The new group included Jedd, who had his official Predator collectible action figure perched prominently in his shirt pocket.

Uber-observant Adrien noticed it immediately. "Oh look at you! Predators fan!" he remarked to Jedd.

A couple of the newcomers had to set-up their camera, and while everyone was waiting, Jedd suggested that Adrien could play with the Predator doll instead. Which was what he did. Here's the photo proof:

Finally, everyone was ready to begin and Diva had to give Adrien some more extra points for remembering that she was the one who had posed him the first question just now.

"OK. Coming back to you," as he placed his attention on her again. (*swoon*)

Red Dot Diva: Jackie mentioned about the late night forays that you guys had after the film day’s done. We’re wondering if there’s anything that you’d like to share, what you were discussing that night. Were you discussing about your roles and anything fun?
Adrien Brody (AB): Oh, we had many discussions. We hung out a lot and ah, you know, the fun thing was that in Hanjian (where I showed up), John Cusack already had a scooter gang created so I bought a scooter and we all rode around ever night after work and that was really fun, that was really exciting to do, to see that town and be around there.

I think a lot of time was spent with Jackie. Jackie and I spoke on many things. He spoke also a lot on philanthropy and the opportunities to use the power of celebrity for more valuable things, which I think is really wonderful. And we have a lot of similar interests and we spoke about martial arts films and we spoke about life.

Jedd: Adrien. Who were some of your favourite cinematic villains and did they influence your portrayal of Tiberius?
AB: I can’t think of one that’s a specific direct influence for this character but Darth Vader comes to mind. [laughs] Maybe! Yeah. There are quite a few, I think.

Red Dot Diva: So do you think bad boys have all the fun?
AB: (with a rather evil twinkle in this eyes) You know, bad boys sure have the opportunity to have fun. The interesting thing to playing a villain is that all your own sensibilities and the conscience and the repercussions of your actions are all out of the window so it’s very exciting to play in that realm, and then... I always like there to be a degree of complexity, degree of humanity left within that. I think that’s much more intriguing to watch a character that has a glimmer of hope left within him somehow.

Adrien Brody being a bad bad boy in "Dragon Blade"

Vernon: What’s the backstory for your character? Is there any secret behind him that is actually not already in the film? 
AB: Well, there’s quite a lot that I worked with to try and establish why he got there. We had this... Daniel and I had many conversations about it. But essentially, Tiberius was born into a position of power and he had a father that did not show him the affection that a child needs in those nurturing years and to the contrary, manipulated him in a way to you know, crush a bit of his own spirit. And so what evolved in this personality was a reaction to that and a violent reaction to that loneliness that he felt from the lack of love from his father and then he ultimately murders his father and everything that gets in the way of that... And this desire for power and respect all comes from this insecurity that lives within him, you know.

I think probably there is some similar in true life for a lot of people who ended up being despicable in their actions as a result of them either being tormented at some point of their life or comes from... It can come from many things but that felt like an honest and logical place for his downward spiral and his own desire for more at any means.

Journalist 1: You get a final fight scene with Jackie. 
AB: That’s the best part!
Journalist 1: The final thing where you get to cross swords with Jackie. Was there any expectations building up to that? Because obvious everybody is looking for that one pay-off right at the end. 
AB: (his eyes lit up with much boyish joy) Well, I sure was looking forward to that. I sure felt a responsibility with that and also tremendous excitement about that. That was the deciding factor here: I was so excited just to work with Jackie and would love that even if we weren’t doing any of these things. But for me really: being a lover of martial arts films, for my father being a lover of martial arts films, to have this definitive battle between good and evil. And final swordfight with Jackie was just the pinnacle. It’s really way more interesting to me than a big epic CG battle scene with me with a... you know, as a superhero. I’m now fighting China’s greatest warrior [laughs] with this... and beating him primarily for a large part of that. So there has a level of truth to that, there has to be. And I think that’s really exciting.

I’ve been saying it, that I have to come to China to be perceived as someone capable of doing that. When I’m at home in America, they get second thoughts about giving me the action hero role.

Journalist 2: You’ve worked on "Back to 1942" as well as "Dragon Blade". How does the Chinese film scene differ from Hollywood in terms of culture, in terms of the production? 
AB: Well, there’s obviously going to be cultural differences and style of conveying storytelling. The whole thing speaks to... The beauty of being an actor is to find yourself in new situations where you evolve and you grow as an actor and the only way to really do that is to constantly push the envelope and try new things.

When I made the film with Feng Xiaogang, I really was very grateful for that opportunity because it gave me not only insight into the film community and the different styles that films may be made, but it was a major historical learning experience for me, which I can then thereby help share, you know, help make the world aware of some of the hardships that people were experiencing in another place. You know, where simultaneously in the western world and Europe, there was all the atrocities going on in WW2, but at the same time, these people were afflicted with starvation and left alone and not really cared for properly. So personally I thought: very brave filmmaking for China. You know, there are certain restrictions on content and I was very happy to be part of that and very honoured to be included.

In this case, this is a style of filmmaking that I love and really gravitated towards and influenced my life a lot of ways. My interest in martial arts probably came from seeing characters in films originally, you know. Not to mention, it is a... I feel it is a classier way of defending oneself rather than you know, picking up... defending yourself with other means, to be physically prepared to discipline and all that, and be able to fight someone that’s bigger than you or several people and prevail. I think that is also empowering.

You know, all of it is vastly interesting to me, the chance to come and explore that, to come back to China, to Asia in general. I travel through Asia extensively on my own many times, so it’s just another chance to be more a part of the world

Jedd: Has acting opposite Jackie Chan made you feel like you’d consider playing a straight-up action hero again? 
AB: Yeah, of course. I feel like I’m open to many things. If you look at the type of films that I’ve made, I try to do everything. I love comedy. I love the excitement of an action, high stakes action film. I feel compelled by socially relevant material. I think that’s the beauty of being an actor: you live so many lives, you have the opportunity of telling stories in so many different ways, gaining empathy and becoming a character that’s dissimilar to yourself. All that is the journey. So yeah, hopefully there will be other opportunities. I have to say it was lots of fun. There’s a different responsibility there, of course. I’m going make things work as best as I can but it’s fun so there’s a... I was smiling ear to ear when I saw this movie.

Red Dot Diva: Did you sustain any injuries and did you show it off to anyone?
AB: I don’t show it off.

Journalist 3: Maybe a short digression. This is Oscar season and "Grand Budapest Hotel" is right in the centre of it. It’s getting a lot of attention as well. And of course, there’s "Birdman". Have you seen some of these movies and what do you hope? 
AB: I have seen alll of them, yeah.

Journalist 3: What’s your hope for "Grand Budapest"?
AB: Well, obviously it’s a big triumph for Wes and I’m very... I’m honoured and thrilled to be part of that whole journey. I’ve worked with Wes now three times and it’s really wonderful to see how his creative voice has now expanded immensely. And I think the film is wonderful. I think it’s an achievement to come up with something so interesting, even assembling such a wonderful cast of people to collaborate with is just so great. That’s all very exciting.
There are lots of interesting films. It’s nice to see great work get some recognition. All those people who have worked so hard. It’s very nice.

Journalist 4: Because you’re such a slim-built actor but you have to be a muscular body, at the same time you do the martial arts training. How long it takes to prepare for this role?AB: Well, I didn’t have the luxury to prepare as long as I would’ve liked for this. I have another film that will be coming out next year and I had three weeks of prep time for just one battle scene. But I was shooting another film called Septembers of Shiraz where it was the opposite of this, where I play a man who was abducted from his family in Iran in the 80s and I was immersed in a very tragic drama—and then I had to jump into Tiberius.

But again, I thrive on challenge and the excitement of that. Jackie Chan’s stunt team was so gifted and I’m a quick learner so we worked hand in hand. Every free moment we were on set, I was learning to move and working on the move and then we’d be filming and then they’d be shooting another sequence. I’d practise the moves again.

Then, all too soon, it was time's up for our interview with Adrien. After posing for a few photos, he gave another of his enigmatic smiles, said thank you, and glided effortlessly out of the room with his minder.

Brody So Charming!


Thanks to Vernon for transcribing the interview!
Red Dot Diva will be featuring Vernon's movie review of "Dragon Blade" next week. Look out fir it!

Meanwhile, one can check out Vernon's other movie reviews at his blog here.

Also thanks to Encore Films for the media opportunity!

No comments:

Post a Comment