• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Adrien Brody and the Horrors of War

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors, and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind – over 10,000  items – is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library. In 2002, Adrien Brody shone with a breakthrough role in Roman Polanski‘s The Pianist. For Brody, the film echoed a previous acting experience.

“Before I did The Pianist, I was a war photographer in Bosnia, in Yugoslavia in Harrison’s Flowers. I’ve been kind of embracing and really thinking about the suffering that war causes and what people have lived through and it was heavy.

I have lost Jewish ancestors to the Holocaust in Auschwitz. I do feel a connection to it even though it’s hard to grasp on any level the loss of 6 million people. I think one of the advantages of (The Pianist‘s) story is that it’s the story about one man’s journey. It’s not a history lesson. It’s not going to prison camps. It’s about a man’s story of survival at that time and you get a real personal look at one individual’s suffering that may be easier to grasp than a larger sense of that. By playing that one man, by walking around with the Star of David on my arm and making myself hungry and being beaten and staying in that state of mind psychologically it really disturbed me and gave me a far greater connection.

But it goes beyond being Jewish or not being Jewish, it’s a connection to the suffering that exists in this world and the suffering that people have lived through and man’s evil nature, the evil nature of man’s inhumanity to man. I did learn a great deal of the details of that time and I felt really privileged to kind of get just a sense of what it might have felt like. I didn’t lose anyone like that fortunately and I couldn’t truly feel that loss but, believe me, I really tried to and I did as much as I can to feel pain, to be fair in my interpretation and coming home. I felt how fortunate young people are, especially Americans. I moved back into the West Village and within a few weeks, the World Trade Centre was destroyed. I was there and the feelings Ifelt were very similar to the feelings that I felt playing someone witnessing their city being destroyed and that was 3,000 people.”