5 Essential Adrien Brody Facts
This year’s recipient of the Leopard Club Award is Adrien Brody, a New York-born actor who, over the course of a screen career spanning almost 30 years, has worked with several acclaimed directors: Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Peter Jackson, Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson and M. Night Shyamalan are just a few of the filmmakers whose work has been elevated by Brody’s magnetic presence and carefully crafted performances. To celebrate his latest achievement, here are a few interesting facts about him.
Brody’s first experience as a performer occurred very early, before he even began taking acting classes: as a child, he would entertain other kids at birthday parties performing a magic show, using the stage name “The Amazing Adrien.”
He started studying acting at a young age, and made his first professional appearances as a teenager: by the time he was 13, he had done an off-Broadway play and a PBS television film, and at 15 he made his big screen debut playing Mel in Life Without Zoë, the New York Stories segment directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
He’s the youngest person to ever win the Oscar for Best Actor: he was 29 years old when he received the award for his performance in The Pianist. To prepare for that role, he lost 30 pounds, learned how to play the piano and gave up his apartment and his car.
In 2003, he became the first American to win a César Award (the French equivalent of an Oscar) for acting, once again for his work in The Pianist (which also became the first Best Film winner to not have any French-language dialogue at all). As of 2017, only one other American performer has won a César: Kristen Stewart, for her role in Sils Maria (which screened in Piazza Grande in 2014).
For his role in the 2002 film Dummy, where he plays a ventriloquist, he trained both before and during filming with Alan Semok, who designed the title character. Brody became so proficient he was able to perform all the ventriloquism and puppetry scenes himself, without needing to use stand-ins or voice doubles.