GQ Magazine

[Photos & interview- GQ Magazine, 2021] Adrien Brody Finds His Chill.

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October 14, 2021

Nearly 20 years after winning an Oscar and staking his claim as one of his generation’s most serious actors, Adrien Brody is finding a glorious new gear.

Adrien Brody comes bearing fruit. We meet in the parking lot at the base of a popular Los Angeles hiking trail, and he quickly hands over the bounty he’s prepared for us: a plastic container full of cherries and watermelon, along with a couple of bottles of water, some fresh-squeezed orange juice, and two pieces of buttered toast wrapped in a paper towel. He’s a charmer, no doubt—but also an actor who relishes doing the deep work of preparation, no matter the role. We eat sitting on the curb. It’s not quite nine in the morning. The cherries are terrific.

Brody is 48 now, and has been acting professionally for more than 30 years. In that time, he’s become known for the intensity of his commitment to the job: losing weight or gaining muscle or crawling across the forest floor for a part. “I would do whatever it takes for a role,” he says, “and everybody in my life understands that and respects that.” Like all actors, he’s had highs and lows, but maybe because of that intensity, Brody’s highs have felt higher—and his lows perhaps lower—than many of the actors we think of as his peers, and whom he calls his friends. He is still the youngest best actor winner in Academy Awards history. He also decided, not long ago, to spend a few years doing anything but acting.

This fall marks an unusually prosperous stretch for the actor. He’s in the third season of Succession, in which he’ll play an activist investor butting heads with the Roy family. After that comes The French Dispatch, his fourth film with director Wes Anderson. (Their fifth is already under way.) And sometime next year, he’ll appear as two legendary figures: the playwright Arthur Miller, in Blonde, the Netflix film about Miller’s wife Marilyn Monroe, and the basketball coach Pat Riley, in Adam McKay’s HBO series about the 1980s “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers. Keenly aware of how often these things are left to chance, he’s excited that so much is happening at once. “I did a lot of fun stuff, but now we’re catching it at a good moment,” he says. Brody has always applied his maximum-effort Method approach, no matter the quality of the material. And oftentimes, his work was the best thing about the films in which he appeared. Now, though, he’s got a run of parts in projects with auteur-level creators that finally seems properly calibrated to his abilities—and that seems likely to show audiences a different kind of Adrien Brody.

When we meet, the Lakers series is still in production, and as we set off on our walk, Brody—in hiking boots, a Yankees cap, and aviators—explains that something a little strange is happening with the Riley role. Brody didn’t know much about the coach prior to preparing for the part, but he quickly learned that Riley’s story was more complex than he realized. Before Riley became a Hall of Fame coach, he had been a college hoops star, Brody learned, and then a reserve on a title-winning Lakers squad. After a nine-year pro career, Riley hung it up at 30 and, as Brody says, “found himself out in L.A. trying to figure out what his place was within the sport, and not really being able to accept early retirement.” After the Lakers’ then head coach suffered a horrific cycling accident, and the assistant coach who replaced him was subsequently fired, Riley wound up in charge of what would become the signature team of the 1980s. “One man’s misfortune, essentially, created an opportunity,” Brody explains. When McKay was casting the show, he and Max Borenstein, the series writer, needed an actor who could reflect the coach’s duality of spirit. Brody seemed perfect, “because he is a unique mixture of stylish confidence and vulnerability,” McKay tells me in an email. “And that’s a perfect description of Riley. Although Riley obviously doesn’t advertise or isn’t quite as comfortable with the vulnerability as much as Adrien is. But it’s clearly there.”

That’s the Riley he’s been thinking about: not the swaggering, Armani-suited icon but a young man worried that his best years are behind him, baffled by the circumstances that have landed him in what should be an ideal position.

It’s funny, Brody says, just how much Riley’s story seems to echo his own. Living with the comparison these last few months has given him ample reason to think back on the strange storm that seemed to settle over his life and career after he won his Oscar, in 2003, for his work in The Pianist. Back then, Brody struggled with the same sort of contradiction Riley faced when he was handed the reins of the Lakers: He was ostensibly on top of the world and yet felt unable to control the trajectory of a career that might have peaked terrifyingly early. In Brody’s case, the rush of fame and work that followed the film provided a measure of security, but the experience also left him depressed and with an eating disorder, and it permanently reordered the expectations—his own and the industry’s—about how his career should go, about what success might look like.

As he’s explaining all this, pausing for winding digressions about the nature of luck and the vagaries of independent film production, we’re stopped in the middle of the trail by a leather-skinned hiker with a thick New York accent. He recognizes the famous actor and introduces himself as Jack. He tells us that he used to know Gerald Gordon, an acting teacher with whom Brody took some classes when he first moved to Los Angeles. Jack explains that Gordon once prepared him for just this moment, having instructed him to send along Gordon’s best wishes should Jack ever happen to run into Adrien Brody. Which sounds improbable, only it’s exactly what has just happened. Jack seems as confused as we are. Brody offers his appreciation and elegantly ends the conversation.

Perhaps thanks to Brody’s open-to-the-moment training as an actor, or maybe just his congenital sensitivity, humdrum events like these—a hike, a chat with a friend of an old teacher, a discussion about what he’s working on these days—have a way, in his life, of feeling freighted with a special charge. Metaphors, I learn over the course of our time together, tend to follow him around—some days like a litter of puppies, others like a colony of angry wasps.

He’s spent his career pouring every ounce of himself into his roles. But right now, with the Riley job and everything else around it, he seems ready to learn from the work. Helpful lessons abound, if we’re ready for them. “I’m just trying to live openly and fearlessly,” he’ll tell me later.

As we make our way up the hill, Brody pushes the pace. He turns back to me. We’ve been hiking for maybe 15 minutes. “So, anyhow,” he says, “that’s how, if you’re lucky enough, you can find new chapters opening up for you.”

Brody spent the summer shooting the Lakers show in various locations across Los Angeles. Every morning, he’d fold his lanky frame down into his blacked-out, souped-up, stick shift Fiat, and pilot it from his home in the Hills to wherever the production was based that day. He quickly came to love his commute—or maybe less the specific commute than the small joy of finally getting to have one. Much of his work as an actor has taken place in less comfortable climes. He long ago noticed that his friend Owen Wilson somehow managed to always wind up acting in movies that shot in town. Brody wasn’t so lucky. “Owen would live in Santa Monica and have a movie in Santa Monica,” he says. “I’d be in Bulgaria in wintertime, and Owen would go down to Santa Monica, like five blocks, and probably be allowed to go home for lunch. It’s an amazing thing,” he says, having a job he can drive to.

It is true that if you were making a movie set in Santa Monica, you might not cast Adrien Brody. If, however, you were making a film that needed a face easily contorted into Eastern European-inflected despair, or that required the sort of actor who might regard a low-budget indie production in the Balkans as a kind of glorious adventure, Brody would be your guy.

Some of this is plain anatomy. He’s got the ski-slope nose, and the wide, deep-set green eyes, and a pair of eyebrows tilted up in permanent expectation. He looks wry but also a little sad. His voice—raspy, nasal, flecked with wiseguy—feels out of time. Wes Anderson appreciates this quality. “A rare thing with Adrien is that, if it became necessary for him to suddenly have to work in about 1935, rather than 2021, he could do it,” he tells me in a drolly narrated voice memo composed in response to my questions.

Brody comes by it all honestly. His mother, the photographer Sylvia Plachy, left Budapest for Vienna as a teenager, around the time of the Hungarian Revolution, and eventually arrived with her family in New York, where she would later begin shooting for the Village Voice. His mom’s life and work gave her an ability to “see the complexity that most people miss, everywhere around them, and catch it. And immortalize it. And through that lens, I’ve seen the world,” he says. He was a sensitive kid, upset about that quality in himself until he realized that it could be a gift too. Performing opened up a new way of relating with the world, he says: “Fortunately, there were these outlets: There were wonderfully complex human beings to step into, that I could relate to in one way or another. And purge, I guess, or, participate in another human being’s suffering, and not feel alone in my own. And then understand the universality of all of our suffering and joy, but embrace the moments of joy and honor the vast suffering that unfortunately is the pervasive underlayer.”

Mom came back from an assignment to shoot at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with a feeling that her only child—a budding magician and a natural performer—might like to study acting formally. Before long, he was taking four acting classes a day at LaGuardia High School and eventually had booked a part with Francis Ford Coppola in New York Stories.

That one-day job provided lessons that endured: When the script called for a couple of girls to show a strong aversion to the awful cologne being worn by Brody’s character, the director doused the teenage Brody. “Coppola went full Method and poured a bottle of really shitty cologne all over me, so that the girls had something to react to,” Brody recalls.

When Brody was 19, Steven Soderbergh directed him in his Depression-era film King of the Hill. Anderson remembers seeing it with Owen Wilson and being captivated by Brody. “It was one of those entrances where you can just feel instantly, Oh, this is a movie star!” he says. “He sorta smiles his way through it a bit, and he seems so relaxed. And he just grabs you, instantly.”

For a while, stardom for Brody seemed just on the edge of the frame. He scored a big role in The Thin Red Line, only to learn that director Terrence Malick had mostly cut him out of the film, and stole scenes in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam as a liberty-spiked New York punk. Brody kept plugging away.

As we talk, the trail ends and the two of us are deposited out of the canyon and onto a quiet street, a leafy cul-de-sac plump with large homes. Up ahead is the road that will lead us gently back down the hill, to the spot where we left our cars. Brody has a different idea. “I know another way out,” he says, appending a bit of a warning. “But it’s crazy.” Sure enough, he locates a new trail. It’s a narrow, steep single-track path that is presently baking in the midmorning heat. We take it.

It is Adrien Brody’s gift, but maybe more often his curse, that he lives for difficult roles. And not just the difficult ones—the ones that beat him up physically, that test his sanity. “I always go, ‘Why did I take this? Why do I want to do this?’ ” he says. “I’m very excited to do almost anything for a character. Like, I’ve eaten worms. I eat ants. I jumped out of helicopters. And then only afterwards you go, Wow, that was really dumb. Like, why did I do that?

The answer is always the same: “Because you want to be fearless. It takes over any better sense of judgment that you should have, and you just go with it.”

He was 27 when Roman Polanski gave him the chance to put his thoughts about acting and suffering to the test. In The Pianist, a true story of endurance and devastation, he played the title character, Władysław Szpilman, a Jewish musician who survived the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. To prepare, Brody carved his life down to the bone. He sold his car and disconnected his phones. He gave up his apartment and put his things into storage. He spent his days alone in hotel rooms in Germany and Poland, practicing the piano.

“It was an enormous responsibility, and it changed me,” he says. Physically, the shoot was a nightmare. He was depressed for a year after production wrapped, and unhappy with a body ravaged by a crash diet that got him down to 130 pounds. The whole thing left him with a sadness that lingers still. “But I had no idea what was coming,” he says. “I had no idea.”

“I aspired for more, and it felt like my theory of contributing and pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into a project didn’t yield the results.”

Of course, The Pianist was rapturously received—most especially for Brody’s haunting performance. He was nominated for an Academy Award and was seemingly admitted to that rarefied realm reserved for our finest, most committed (and possibly most berserk) actors. He lodged in the public imagination as perhaps the next Robert De Niro or Daniel Day-Lewis—the off-kilter, not-traditionally-handsome-but-still-obviously-sexy leading man who will be every director’s first choice for every serious movie made for the rest of his life.

The week of the Oscars, Brody got a call from Jack Nicholson—they were both up for best actor, alongside Day-Lewis, Michael Caine, and Nicolas Cage. The United States had just sent troops to Iraq, and Jack called the nominees up to his house in the Hills to talk about how they should respond. It was a shock. The first time they’d met, Brody says, “He was calling me Brophy, and now Jack’s inviting me over to his house. I’m there with Michael Caine and I’m there with Nicolas Cage and they’re sipping scotch and they’re smoking cigars and we’re sitting around in a little circle.” All but Brody were previous Oscar winners. Nicholson suggested that they not attend the show, in protest of the war. Brody said, “Hey, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going. But I agree with you: I think that whoever is called to the stage has some responsibility to acknowledge what’s going on.” He just didn’t think it would be him.

And then it was. Brody hadn’t expected to win—the morning of the show, he remembers sitting on the curb on Beverly Boulevard outside a diner in Hollywood, overwhelmed at the enormity of it all, while his visiting parents waited for him to collect himself. But the win wasn’t dumb luck, either. He had put everything he had into the role, and the experience seemed to solidify his conviction that, with enough effort, he could embody and portray the rawest extremes of human experience. It was insane to think he could come close to understanding the suffering of a Holocaust survivor like Szpilman, but there was a sort of euphoria in the effort of trying. “It was like the hardest thing I experienced on so many levels, and then anytime I started wallowing in my own minute suffering, I had this perspective,” he says. He learned a simple, indelible lesson: Making great art is painful. Which is why it’s also pretty much the only kind of art worth trying to make.

His secret, if you could call it that, was that he wasn’t always acting. “I’ve worked with actors who are brilliant and don’t look insincere, but can merely act. They can create,” he says. “It’s a wonderful magic trick. They can act like they love you, and they really don’t. And it takes work for me.” In one scene in The Pianist, he had to clamber over a wall, bust his ankle while landing on the other side, and stumble off, limping. So he stuffed a sharp rock into his shoe. It hurt to land on, and then to walk on, too. “Why have to think about acting a limp?” he asks now. “Just hurt for a minute. Just do it.”

Even now, working through a series of virile icons of American masculinity—Riley; what Brody calls his “shark” of a Succession character; Marilyn Monroe’s husband—this way of thinking comes in handy. “There’s no swagger without damage,” he says. “In fact, probably, most people swagger as a result of a lot of damage.” A swagger, he reasons, being itself a kind of limp.

The audience might only catch the smallest glimpses of this—the armature of pain Brody erects beneath each character’s surface. But he knows it’s there. “That’s essential, at least for my process,” he says. “I don’t always need a rock. But I do often have a rock.” An actual rock, he clarifies, can be useful to convey all manner of emotions, even if his character doesn’t have a foot problem.

“Now you’re learning all my secrets,” he says, laughing. “Fuck. Even when I’m not limping. That’s why I look so melancholy. I have a fucking rock under my foot.”

One thing Brody stresses as we walk is how unlikely this all was—how many tiny impossible things have to go right to make any movie, let alone one that sends its actor through the gauntlet of awards season and out the other side with a business card that reads Hollywood Darling. “You know, those things don’t necessarily happen, ever,” he says. “But the expectation can be that they should happen regularly.”

It took him a while to outgrow that expectation, and so the years that followed his Oscar win were disorienting. “I had been acting for 17 years, and people would recognize me, and it was normal,” he says. “Paparazzi, they couldn’t care less. No one followed me. No one started behaving strangely. No one did odd things. And then a lot of oddness happened.” After the Oscar, every interaction with other people was somehow different. “It was as if a storm rolled in,” he says. “Everything started blowing away—the life I knew.”

Don’t change, people kept telling him. Don’t change. So he didn’t. But then they went off and changed. They talked to him differently. Friends wanted to go into business with him. Photographers wanted to take his picture. Directors wanted him for their movies. None of it quite felt right. “It feels like it was a decade of finding out who and where I was. A lot of living and losing and winning and losing,” he says.

For a while, he had the uniquely bad luck of appearing in a number of panned projects by particularly well-liked filmmakers. He did The Village, M. Night Shyamalan’s first big wobble. Peter Jackson’s big-budget remake of King Kong. Wes Anderson’s dreary The Darjeeling Limited. Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom. All logical choices, on their merits; all performances characterized by Brody’s uniquely intense brand of pathos; all unlucky outcomes, by harsh Hollywood accounting.

He dreamed of getting away—of finding a place somewhere in upstate New York, the kind of house his dad would point out in the real estate listings when he was a kid. His friends Mark Ruffalo and Vera Farmiga had places away from the city, proving that escape wasn’t incompatible with a Hollywood career. He was dating the actress Elsa Pataky at the time, and he thought they could do the same thing. “I had way too much attention for my liking, and I thought I could retreat, come in, do my work and have this honest… I don’t know why, but I imagined it would be simple.”

Brody being Brody, it was not simple. He was working on a movie in Serbia and poking around at real estate listings online when he found the Stone Barn Castle. The enormous cobblestone-and-cement home, some four hours outside New York City, featured stables for horses and even an apple orchard. Brody was smitten. “I’d been dreaming of something dramatic,” he says. He bought it, and surprised Pataky with the purchase.

They set about on a massive renovation. But the relationship ended before they could move from the guest house to the main building.

It would be three or four years before Brody could move into the main house himself, so intensive was the construction. What began as an escape became an all-consuming project, equal parts distraction and balm. He traveled to India and China to find the right materials. He bought church windows and hand-hewn beams from farms in New York and Pennsylvania and Canada. He had a team re-pointing stones for four years. Free home makeover advice from Adrien Brody: Don’t worry about re-pointing stones. “I employed a group of men to come and chisel away every stone, underground and up above. And then when it’s all done, it looks the same. It is a little bit neater.” That feeling suffused the whole project: “I don’t know what the purpose of it really is yet,” he says. “But it is an achievement.”

And then, five or six, or maybe eight, years ago, he looked up and realized that his day job wasn’t getting any easier. He was still applying the maniacal effort that shot him to fame, but the work no longer seemed to repay his exertion. “There was this protracted period where I realized that that path wasn’t working, for whatever reason,” he says. “I aspired for more, and it felt like my theory of contributing and pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into a project didn’t yield the results. There was a disconnect somehow to what I had done for so long, and it just wasn’t working.” So he stepped back. He finished off the projects he was working on, and said no to the ones that came in. He grew his hair long, and started wearing a beard. He hung out with artists and started painting. He made music. He traveled the world.

Eventually, he came to understand the hobbies he’d thrown himself into less as attempted diversions from acting and more as ways of buttressing his belief in his own creativity—different, and often less painful, ways to channel his energy. “That’s living, that’s not running away,” he says. “It’s being present with something, and trying to create something that endures.”

Initially, our plan is to meet again the next day to talk over lunch. But as we nosh in the parking lot after our hike, we figure: Why not do this again tomorrow? We’ll have to get up a bit earlier, to account for the heat, but Brody is game and so am I. Later that night, he sends along coordinates that I follow, at 7:30 the next morning, to a trailhead near an eerie old abandoned zoo complex. This time, Brody has packed a container of sliced peaches and blood orange, and brought along little oyster forks we use to spear the fruit.

Almost immediately, Brody’s attention is captured by a squirrel hiding in a nearby rock. He crouches, willing the creature over, and apologizes to the squirrel for not having brought food. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m not prepared because I didn’t know I would meet such a cute little dude.” Brody is patient and still, and it’s working—the squirrel comes within a few inches, then retreats, then comes closer again. They repeat the dance until the animal is a whisker away from Brody’s hand. “Adrien Brody makes very authentic squirrel noises,” he says, anticipating how the interaction will appear in this story, “then communes with the wild animal right before me in the zoo.” This lasts about five minutes. “I gave him his chance to bite me,” Brody says, after he’s broken eye contact with the squirrel. “He didn’t do it.”

Brody is still putting it all out there—still giving the squirrels of the world plenty of chances to bite him—but lately things have been breaking his way. He’s in a happy relationship with the fashion designer Georgina Chapman. (Because Chapman was previously married to Harvey Weinstein, Brody has again become something of a tabloid fixture. “Life works in mysterious ways—put it to you that way,” he says of the relationship. And then, later, about the strange way his relationship has come to be something in which the public feels invested: “What could I say about that that would make it anything other than what it is?”)

He found his way back to Hollywood, first in bits and then all at once. He spent a while writing and then making Clean, a movie about a New York sanitation worker with a tortured past, which will be released next year. That project let him explore some deeply held ideas about what makes for compelling drama, in filmmaking and in life: “Everything has got to work against you. And then if you make it through, that’s somewhat heroic, and that’s real life, and that’s what everybody faces every day.” (He also got to indulge a longtime passion: His character drives Brody’s personal matte-black 1987 Buick Grand National. “It’s a beautiful car,” he says. “Very menacing.”)

After sitting things out for a little while and gaining some new perspective, he found that “interesting filmmakers were coming to me with things.” Many of these projects have freed him from the responsibility of being the leading man forced to suffer for the audience’s enjoyment. Instead, he gets to do sharply observed character work. He steals scenes, and cracks jokes.

He especially loved tangling with Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong while making Succession‘s third season. “Here I am jumping in with these big sharks really in their element, their ocean,” Brody says. “And then I have to jump in and bite back. I like the thrill of that.” He knows a couple of guys like his character, he says, billionaire hotshots. I ask if he’s hit them up to pick their brains on the finer points of the executive lifestyle. “No, no, I don’t even need to,” he says, smiling like he’s just completed his own piece of corporate dealsmanship. “I’ve already picked it! I already own it!” Brody says he’s enjoyed operating in the show’s raw, funny register. “I tend to harp on a lot of the heavy things that I see in life,” he says. “But there’s a lot of humor in even the not-so-nice qualities of people that you know. Certain things that come out and you go, ‘That was odd,’ or ‘That was a little offensive.’ ”

Elsewhere, he’s tipping into pure comedy. In The French Dispatch, he plays a slick art dealer who recognizes, in a painter imprisoned for murder, the future of contemporary art—and, joyfully, he gets laughs. Directed by Wes Anderson, it’s the latest in a collaboration that is helping him rewrite the trajectory of his career. “Wes allowed me to have fun,” he says. More than that, it seems that Anderson showed the rest of Hollywood that Brody could have fun, too. “It isn’t something he had to pull out of a hat,” Brody says of Anderson, charmingly insistent that he has learned to loosen up and have a little fun.

Of course, Brody still relishes the tough work. Andrew Dominik, director of the Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde, praised Brody’s unwillingness to polish his portrayal of Arthur Miller. “He’s playing a character who’s not being seen sympathetically,” Dominik tells me. “And often where an actor is playing a part that’s unflattering, they will sort of be more of an asshole. It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m playing an asshole, but it’s not me.’ And Adrien’s instinct was completely the opposite.” This year’s Chapelwaite, meanwhile, was an old-fashioned Brody sufferfest. The Epix series, adapted from the Stephen King short story Jerusalem’s Lot, was pure gothic horror, but Brody was nonetheless able to draw from experience: He played a man driven to insanity after coming into possession of a haunted house.

With time, Brody has gotten a little wiser about what is worth suffering for. By way of explaining this shift, he tells me a story about a movie he made more than a decade ago. Wrecked was a queasy thriller that opens moments after his character suffers amnesia (and worse) after crashing his car into a ravine. Brody appears in nearly every shot, in varying degrees of agony. “You just watch me scream and flail about for a couple of hours” is how he describes it. The shoot was brutal—the character spends the whole movie with a broken leg, which meant that Brody spent most of the production crawling on his stomach across the forest floor. After a while, he started using the backs of his hands to crawl, since his palms were stuck full of thorns.

One day, the crew was shooting by a river, and Brody noticed that the rushing water had carved this perfect little oval pool in the center of a rock. In this pool Brody saw “a drowning earthworm, undulating on the bottom of the stone.” It looked like one of his mother’s photographs. This little worm—drowning but still wriggling for the surface, fighting a battle Brody could see it was doomed to lose—filled him with emotion. This, he knew, was why he was suffering through the shoot—this was his character in a single shot. “That guy’s not going to make it, and it’s so beautiful,” he says. “It’s so picturesque and tragic, and it encompasses all that we’re saying.” He asked the director to shoot it.

But Wrecked was an independent feature, strapped for cash and perennially low on time. The director said no. Brody asked again. The director said no again. “I’ll eat it,” Brody offered. The director asked for his camera. Brody ate the worm.

“It was disgusting,” Brody tells me. “I think it got me sick.”

He paused. “But it’s in the movie.”

He shares this story with me on a rocky trail high above sunny Los Angeles, the exciting third act of his career laid out like the freeway humming beneath us. Thinking back on the worm he ate, Brody wonders now what purpose his sacrifice really served. “For what benefit?” he asks. “Who even notices it?” Wrecked was a little-seen indie, and you can barely spot the scene if you’re not looking for it. He knows he didn’t have to do it. “But somehow,” he says, “I’m compelled to.”

What he’s learned, I think, is something about his own expectations. Something liberating, perhaps. You don’t need to believe that eating a worm will turn a fine movie into a great one. Or that re-pointing the below-ground stones—the ones nobody will ever see—will redeem a years-long renovation debacle. Doing the hard thing isn’t always the answer. Suffering doesn’t make you a better artist, and it definitely doesn’t make you an easier person to be around. But you can’t learn what you’re really made of without doing your fair share of suffering.

I’d asked him, earlier in the day, why he held onto his castle—whether, once the renovation started dragging on, he’d ever thought about just getting rid of what had become, inescapably, a very expensive reminder of a difficult time. He’d considered the idea. Of course he had, he told me. How could you not? “I could’ve sold. I could’ve got out immediately and said, This is too much,” he said. And then, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world: “But I can’t do that.”

Sam Schube is GQ’s deputy site editor.

A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2021 issue with the title “Adrien Brody Finds His Chill.”


Photographs by Jason Nocito
Styled by Jon Tietz
Hair by Thom Priano for R+Co. Haircare
Skin by Kumi Craig for The Wall Group
Tailoring by Ksenia Golub
Set design by Robert Sumrell for Walter Schupfer Management
Produced by Eric Jacobson at Hen’s Tooth Productions