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Adam Brody Is a Man At Work

From the thriller Ready or Not to the politically charged series Mrs. America, this former teen idol is expanding his reach

There are certain television shows that can define a stage in your life. Especially before the instant gratification of Netflix and Amazon Prime, waiting an entire week for the next episode of a television show to air allowed viewers to become fully invested in a show and even more so, a character.

For me, I vividly recall watching Gilmore Girls as a pre-teen and admiring the delicate balance that Rory Gilmore struck between being a bookworm and a sharp-tongued teenager. A few years after that, The O.C. became the cinematic soundtrack of my teens, with rebellious Marissa Cooper as the first track.

Adam Brody’s roles in each of those series—on Gilmore Girls in 2002 and 2003, and The O.C. from 2003 to 2007—have served as many people’s Rory Gilmore and Marissa Cooper. His portrayal of Seth Cohen on The O.C. captured the hearts of viewers across the globe so effortlessly that there is still a loyal fan base surrounding the sarcastic and loveable character.

Since then, Brody has expanded his repertoire beyond playing the awkwardly charming love interest. In August, he starred opposite Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, and Andie MacDowell in the unexpectedly hilarious thriller, Ready or Not.

“Blood works better as a surprise,” Brody says in response to my reaction to Ready or Not. “I once did a movie called Cop Out with Bruce Willis and had the joy of being in a shoot-out with him. He said to me, ‘you can never have too much dirt, blood, and sweat.’ I’ll always remember that.”

While his character in Ready or Not boasts layers of moral conflict, understated wit, and emotional torment, Brody humbly credits his performance to the sweat. “Sometimes good makeup is half the battle,” he says self-deprecatingly.

The truth is that Brody’s endearing sense of humor is self-critical but the 39-year-old actor genuinely cares about his roles and the strategy that goes into making his characters’ decisions. “I love talking about the creative process as much as doing it. I like blocking a scene as much as I do filming a scene,” Brody says. “I love to go over a scene with another actor and director and make choices as a team about what feels right in terms of moving here or there.”

So, is a behind-the-scenes gig in the future for this onscreen heartbreaker? Maybe. “I love music, I love cinematography, I love acting, and I love set design. Being able to weigh in on all the creative things that go into a story seems thrilling and I would love to do it as some point,” Brody admits. I ask what type of project he would want to work on and the answer feels like a colorful piñata bursting through the phone, serving as a testament to Brody’s creative instincts. “I would combine comedy, a little violence, tragedy, as well as larger-than-life sets. I think I’ve gotten more sophisticated with my storytelling over the years, but at heart I am still very much a little boy, and I just want to play with dinosaurs. It’s about merging those two things.”

Before Brody can create sophisticated stories starring dinosaurs, he will be featured in the upcoming FX limited series, Mrs. America, as part of an all-star cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, John Slattery, and Elizabeth Banks. “I am very excited to work with all of these incredibly talented and charismatic people,” Brody says of his upcoming cast mates.

The period drama will follow the 1970s political battle surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment, a fight that was eventually lost. “With everything in our society and the shift we are going through, nothing is more relevant right now,” Brody says of the timely subject matter. “It’s an honor to be able to take part in that conversation on such a big stage. It’s such an important conversation.”

Although some celebrities calibrate how political they appear in public, Brody had no hesitations about joining the project’s cast. “I’m not totally prepared to give a dissertation, but I will say that in terms of today’s politics, this is just disgusting and it is terrifying.”

Taking a stance and using your platform to showcase your opinion is something Brody holds close to his heart. “Everyone has to find their own balance, but if you have a microphone or a lot of Twitter followers, as far as I’m concerned now, if you’re not using that to speak for change, then I have no time for that.”

It was during these moments of our conversation that I could feel Brody becoming more passionate. At this point he offered his first and only mention of The O.C. “I understand that of the people who follow me on Twitter, half of them are O.C. fans from Brazil. But fine, you follow me, so here’s a New York Times article for you. Read it or don’t, at least you’ll scan the headline. I try to amplify some of this stuff. That’s not to say that I do remotely enough, but I am certainly concerned.”

After having no social media presence for a long time, Brody decided to create his own Twitter account in 2017 to show support for his friend Justin Kanew, who was running for Congress. Since then, Brody has actively taken to Twitter to promote his various projects as well as political opinions from different news outlets. “I try not to tweet everyday. I’ve erased so many tweets that were just pure hate–pure anger. A lot of it is retweets of people who I follow that can say it better than I can.”

From the thriller Ready or Not to his return to television with Mrs. America and a repeat appearance on Single Parents, which stars his wife, Leighton Meester, Adam Brody is proving he’s more than a teen heartthrob. And we’re listening to what he has to say.

Main image credit: Hong Jang Hyun