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