Everywhere you turn in your local multiplex these days, it's coming up Adrien Brody.
Having recently given us The Fantastic Mr Fox and Cadillac Records, Brody is currently on our screens in the grifter comedy The Brothers Bloom, which will be joined this week by Predators, and by the end of the month, there's also going to be the biogenetics horror romp Splice. Someone's desperate for some attention, methinks. Or maybe they just need a new swimming pool. Or two.
"Oh, definitely the latter," smiles Brody. "It's actually got more to do with the nature of this business, and how films you've shot over four or five years can all suddenly arrive at once. It can warp the picture a little, and make it look as though all you're doing with your time is running from movie set to movie set."
With Predators, Brody bravely takes on the latest installment of the long-running sci-fi franchise that began back in 1987, with Arnie and his fellow wide-eyed soldiers confronting the alien hitman with the thermal vision and the invisibility cloak. Those nasty ETs have gone into battle quite a few times since that, and like so many horror and sci-fi channels, ended up becoming something of a parody. Which begs the question...
PAUL BYRNE: So, what's a nice Oscar-winning guy like you doing in a long-running, and somewhat jaded, franchise like this?
ADRIEN BRODY: Well, it's the swimming pool -- it just kept getting bigger and bigger. Actually, like any right-thinking person, I took a moment or two before being convinced that there was another story to tell here. And there is. I'm a big, big fan of that 1987 original. I think it shows just how far we've come in that audiences don't expect their heroes to be muscle-bound athletes anymore -- your average Joe can be a hero. Even when he looks like me.
PB: So, did the wiry Adrien Brody have to hit the gym for 23 hours a day in preparation to play action hero Royce?
AB: Not exactly 23 hours, no, but close -- I did manage to put on about 25lbs of muscle. I'm just glad that we've moved on from the notion that the hero of a pic like this has to be John Wayne-shaped, or Arnie-shaped. Otherwise, I'd only ever play the annoying sidekick who gets all the stray punches.
PB: The tables are turned here, in that it's a bunch of American mercenaries who suddenly find themselves trying to survive on the aliens' planet.
AB: It's a clever twist, I thought, and one that does throw up a few new challenges, a few new ideas. It just goes further into the world of the aliens themselves, and also comes up with a whole new perspective.
PB: This is a script Robert Rodriguez took to 20th Century Fox, and was told was too expensive. Today, they're happy to let him take the whole shebang down to his Texas studio.
AB: It's great working with someone who understands every element of the filmmaking process. This guy writes, directs, composes the music, handles the camera work, whatever, but he's also smart enough to hand those jobs over to other people when necessary. As here, letting Nimrod Antal direct. We shot most of the film in Robert's studio, but we also shot in Hawaii and at Canyon Lake Gorge. It was a fun shoot.
PB: Fun enough, it seems, to have Rodriguez talking about a sequel.
AB: It's pretty much a given with a franchise like this that, as long as there's an audience out there, someone will always be thinking about a sequel.
PB: Do you think the franchise has gained a certain amount of credibility, given its longevity?
AB: I think there would an acceptance that there's something there that has lasted, and that audiences have definitely responded, too. I'm sure if you went back to all those reviewers who dismissed the Arnie outing, they'd have a different opinion about it now. There's a pattern with certain genres, especially sci-fi and horror, where critics tend to dismiss them outright. Mainly because a huge amount of what comes out in those genres does tend to be cheap and nasty, but many of our best filmmakers came out of horror and sci-fi.
PB: You might have had some weird dreams of late, given that not only have you been battling aliens but, in Splice, you wander into The Fly territory, as one half (opposite Sarah Polley) of a genetics couple who take their DNA cocktails a little too far.
AB: There's definitely elements of The Fly, but there's a little of Rosemary's Baby in there, too. I think science is getting so close to what these two characters Sarah and I play in the movie are capable of. And it's therefore even creepier than if you'd just come up with some creature from a nearby lagoon.
PB: The creature which Sarah's Elsa creates from human and animal DNA, she is soon mothering like the child she thought she never wanted. By this stage, it's hard to know whether you should laugh or scream.
AB: That's the beauty of a movie like Splice. It keeps throwing you curve balls, and the comedy gets mixed in there with the grotesque, with the family drama, with the thriller aspects. If I can keep mixing it up like this, I'll be happy.
Predators is out tomorrow. Splice hits Irish cinemas July 30