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Adrien Brody Talks About "The Jacket"

Adrien Brody on Donning the Jacket and Shooting Conditions

By

Adrien Brody The Jacket

Adrien Brody stars in "The Jacket"

© Warner Independent Pictures
Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody ("The Pianist") gives another terrific performance in "The Jacket," a movie that doesn't confine itself to any one genre. Part romance, part thriller, part psychological mind trip, director John Maybury says the film changes genre with each reel, though he claims the one genre it never touches on is horror (so don't let the trailer and/or movie posters fool you into believing this is a horror film).

In "The Jacket," Brody plays a Gulf War veteran who is shot in the head, gets accused of murdering a police officer, and winds up committed to a mental institute where a doctor uses a torturous treatment program that involves a straight-jacket and being placed in a drawer in a morgue for hours at a time.

INTERVIEW WITH ADRIEN BRODY ('Jack Starks'):

What kind of preparation did you do for the movie?

I grew up living in New York in an apartment there, and it was pretty small. No, I did - I actually found a sensory deprivation chamber where we were shooting in Glasgow. Are you familiar with them? These tanks where you lay in a thin saline solution? It was really an interesting experience. I would do quadruple sessions that they were pretty amazed that I could endure. And then you become very aware of how your mind works and how cyclical thoughts are, and how you sort of [can] guide them. It’s an interesting way to meditate in a way, but also to separate yourself from your physical being. I did it a number of times, but it was hours on end.

How would you describe this film?

That’s up to you. That’s up to you. Well, I think it’s the kind of…it’s pretty amazing to go to a movie and not be spoon-fed, as you know, because you see films all of the time. You don’t want to be fed everything. I like the ambiguity of it because like in life, things are ambiguous, and people are ambiguous, and people’s interpretations of people are ambiguous. That’s part of what attracted me to this role was the fact that the character is not really defined by any of this. His ethnicity, his religious beliefs, where he’s from, on any level that’s not described, nor does he have any allegiance to his own past, which defines us. How we are raised and how we are told who we are and what we are.

I think it’s a remarkable place to be as an actor or at any point in life… It’s liberating but at the same time, who are you? That’s a very kind of exciting concept to explore in-depth, because it’s all a way for us to kind of understand or assume we understand each other, by how we perceive one another. Now we’re perceiving each other on a very kind of physical level, or a level of beliefs or whatever, but that’s not tapping into who we are within that or the soul, not even the mind or the beliefs who we are within that. Especially in Hollywood, that’s hard to obtain with everyone telling you, “What are you wearing? How do you look?” “You look this way,” or “You look that way.” That’s what was interesting being in that drawer in the deprivation chamber. You start feeling in that utter blackness of space…it’s a chance to kind of let go of your own physical being, so it was a pretty fascinating process.

I liked the ambiguity of it all because it’s cool. I have my own ideas of what it’s about, but I also have to suspend that too when I’m doing it, not even in explaining it to you. My process is that I have to kind of believe everything my character is believing while he’s believing it or while he’s enduring it or experiencing it. My character is going mad whether I’m dead or I’m dreaming or whatever, I’m going mad in that moment. And I have to experience that as part of my reality.

What kind of shooting conditions did you face during the scenes in the morgue drawer?

Very hostile (laughs). What do you mean?

The lighting, the physical set, etc.

Well, we shot in a mental institution in the basement. They built this in the basement of a mental institution and it had that vibe. It had the kind of energy somehow of that. We were using real gurneys and they were all kind of instruments of medicinal - I don’t know, professional instruments around that were frightening. And the crew was nice but the state of mind I was in was not. I don’t even try to communicate with anyone when I’m working.

I was restrained in the jacket and I would often ask to be left alone on the gurney and wait while they set up the next shot instead of them getting me out of it and sitting around and having a conversation. I think that’s not conducive to staying in that state of mind. Plus I think it’s just important to stay centered. So therefore it doesn’t matter where it is, what it is, I would be in the same place as we were shooting. If we were shooting it anywhere, I would be in the same kind of my own space. So I kind of am oblivious to what’s going on, for the most part, while I’m filming. When I’m done, it’s cool. “Have a good night everyone.” But in the moment I’m not really…

Adrien Brody on Spending Time in the Jacket and Working with Polanski on "The Pianist"

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