Adrien Brody – Zero to Hero

One of the least typecast actors in Hollywood, Adrien Brody — star of the new period biopic Hollywoodland — has defied critics by choosing a wide range of roles on the basis that they “look like fun”. This approach has taken him from the most serious role imaginable, as a Polish Jew in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, to portraying Jack Driscoll in Peter Jackson’s big budget adventure King Kong.

Despite Brody’s seemingly overnight success in The Pianist — a role that made him the youngest actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor — he had actually been struggling to make a name for himself since he appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s 1993 movie King of the Hill. He went on to receive praise for his turns in The Thin Red Line and Summer of Sam, but wasn’t widely noticed until the success of The Pianist.

Since his Oscar success, however, Brody’s movies — with the exception of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village — have tended to underperform at the box office. His 2005 psychological thriller The Jacket made only $15million at the worldwide box office, barely half of its $28million budget. Even the blockbuster King Kong failed to live up to expectations. In fact, his only success since The Pianist came from Esquire Magazine, who voted him Best Dressed Man in America 2004.

All this may be set to change, though, with the release of Hollywoodland, Brody’s crime drama/biopic of Louis Simo, the detective investigating the suspicious death of TV’s Superman, George Reeves, in 1959. Including Brody himself, the movie boasts two Oscar winners and two nominees — Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins and Diane Lane. Such star power, combined with reports that Hollywoodland was described before production began as “one of the best scripts unproduced”, will have Brody hoping to return to our good graces and box office success. Will it  work? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

James Shenton is an oft-published entertainment writer and celebrity gossip columnist from New York.