Albert Brooks Goes Gangster


Friday, September 16, 2011

If you’re of a certain generation, you will always love Albert Brooks for his role as a nervous TV producer in Broadcast News; if you’re of another, you will always love him as the voice of a daddy clownfish in Finding Nemo. But his latest performance may also be his greatest, and is already generating Oscar buzz.

In the new movie Drive, Brooks plays a Hollywood B-movie producer turned mobster. It's an unexpected turn for Brooks, whose characters have tended toward warm, funny, and neurotic. He tells Kurt Andersen how he resorted to intimidation to get the role. After a meeting with Drive's Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn, "I pinned him up against the wall — which I really did — on the way out. I thought, 'Should I do this? Should I not? It's sort of cliché.' I took him by his collar and pinned him up and quietly said, 'Just so if there's any doubt in your mind: I'm a strong man, I can play that."

Brooks is full of surprises this year, having written his first novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America. Cancer has been cured, and China ends up controlling a huge chunk of California. The creative control (and lack of budgets) made novel-writing a revelation for Brooks. "It was like taking a blanket off my brain, it was so exciting."


Bonus Track: Brooks on his love-hate relationship with Twitter

    Music Playlist
  1. Bride of Deluxe
    Artist: Cliff Martinez
    Album: Drive Soundtrack
    Label: Lakeshore Records
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. He Had a Good Time
    Artist: Cliff Martinez
    Album: Drive Soundtrack
    Label: Lakeshore Records
    Purchase: Amazon


Albert Brooks

Produced by:

Michele Siegel

Comments [1]

Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

I think Albert might be interested in reading this. I love his insight into the impasse he sees developing between the baby boom generation and those that follow. We are indeed heading for a very material kind of resource war within our own culture. As we consume all the affordable resources on the earth there'll be less to go around and disputes over who gets it.

I also like his complaint that he can't see what else could happen. The histories of growth systems in nature are peppered with impasses like that, that serve crucial roles in tipping balances that trigger changes in their form and design. All successions of changing form in organisms and cultures are of that kind, actually.

Why no science studies the subject is that these are nature's dynamic "rule making" processes and traditional science is only able to study "rule following" processes. That might be the story Brooks could sink his teeth into. It's a fabulous and "hair raising tale" about the human struggle to make nature work the way our minds think... instead of the other way around.

I'm not the only one to think of this, of course, but I've studied it more closely than anyone else I know of. Keynes was also one of those who saw the problem, but found it hard to talk to others about it. He actually concluded his master theory of growth with a chapter on the end of growth, foreseeing that this very impasse was sure to come up. He proposed we explore the unavoidably necessary solution, too. How he discovered it, I think, was to see how the impasse shattered all his assumptions, then sitting with all the broken pieces in a jumble on his lap, going over and over trying to see what could be put together in a new way.

The economy would need to stop escalating its demands on the earth, and to do that finance would need to stop escalating its demands for more productivity from people! Now if THAT isn't a hair raising model for change in our culture,... then nothing is. It's so counter intuitive no one in our culture would ever think of it. I think that's why its so hard for Brooks to see what our real choices are, because they violate some of the most central (outmoded) principles of our culture!! ;-) We'd need fresh thinking, when old thinking runs out, all that nature actually demands of us.

We can't know what parts of society will adopt nature's script for how to successful transition from growth. All we can know is that those will be the only parts of society that survive.

Sep. 18 2011 04:26 PM

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