Adrien Brody Biography

Actor, Film Actor (1973–)
At age 29, Adrien Brody became the youngest person to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2003, for his role in Roman Polanski's 'The Pianist.'


Actor Adrien Brody was born April 14, 1973, in Woodhaven, Queens, New York. Early in his career, Brody appeated in films including Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line and Spike Lee's Summer of Sam (1999). He became an international star when Roman Polanski cast him in the lead role of The Pianist (2002), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 2003.

Early Life

Adrien Brody was born on April 14, 1973, in Woodhaven, Queens, New York, the son of Elliot Brody, a history professor, and Hungarian-born photojournalist Sylvia Plachy. Brody accompanied his mother on assignments for the Village Voice and learned how to be photographed from by watching her work. He attended New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts at the age of 12. As a child, he performed magic shows as the Amazing Adrien at children's birthday parties, and also acted on the Off-Broadway stage. He went on to attend the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. After graduating from high school, he attended Stony Brook University before transferring to Queens College. 

Early Career

Early in his career, Brody appeared in films that earned him critical praise, but failed to launch him to stardom, such as Steven Soderbergh's drama King of the Hill (1993), Angels in the Outfield (1994) and The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997). Despite a strong performance in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line in 1988, many of Brody's scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

Acclaimed Actor

In 1999, Brody received critical praise for his performance as punk rocker Ritchie in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam, but didn't receive true stardom until three years later, when Roman Polanski cast him in The Pianist (2002) as a celebrated Jewish pianist in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. To prepare for the role, Brody drew on the heritage of his Polish-born grandmother and father, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, lost 29 pounds and meticulously mastered the dialect he spoke in the film. His powerful performance earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor. At age 29, Adrien Brody became the youngest actor to win the Best Actor Oscar. After winning the award, he famously embraced presenter Halle Berry and kissed her on the mouth, joking: "I bet they didn't tell you that [kiss] was in the gift bag." Brody also became the only actor to win the French César Award. 

After his Oscar win, Brody appeared as a ventriloquist in Dummy (2003), a developmentally disabled man in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village (2003), a war veteran in The Jacket (2005) and a screenwriter in the 2005 remake of King Kong. In 2007, he appeared in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited and worked with the director again in the Academy Award-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). His other films include: Hollywoodland (2006), Splice (2010) and Predators (2010), a sequel to the 1987 sci-fi classic Predator. He also portrayed artist Salvador Dalí in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011).

Brody took on another historical role, playing legendary magician Harry Houdini in the History channel miniseries Houdini. He received Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for his performance.

Personal Life

Brody dated Spanish actress Elsa Pataky from 2006 to 2009. He began dating model Lara Lieto in 2013. 

In addition to acting, Brody has worked as a director, producer, composer and artist. He took a year and a half off from acting to focus on his art, according to People magazine. In July 2016, his painting "Tiger on Last Legs" was auctioned off for around $275,000 at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala to raise money for environmental awareness and research.

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