With Predators out this Friday, and sci-fi horror Splice out at the end of the month, Adrien Brody proves himself an unlikely action hero. Paul Byrne pulls up a stool.

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 the leading man with the broad, broad smile. “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, but very few people have the luxury of such a life.

“Not that I’d actually want to spend my time running from movie set to movie set. I’ve got more important things to be doing with my spare time…”

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 E.T.s have gone into battle quite a few times since that 1987 debut, 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 franchise like this?

ADRIEN BRODY: Well, it’s the swimming pool – it just kept 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, and to be part of that line is something of a guilty pleasure, to be honest. I don’t get to play the action hero all that often, and I think it shows just how far we’ve come in that audiences don’t expect their heroes to be musclebound athletes anymore – your average Joe can be a hero. Even when he looks like me.

So, did the wiry Adrien Brody have to hit the gym for 23 hours a day in preparation to play action hero Royce?

Not exactly 23 hours, no, but close – I did manage to put on about 25Ibs of muscle. I generally like to keep myself fit, and be right for whatever role I’m taking on. 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…

In a plot which handily ignores the various Alien battles of the last 20 years and is being touted as a sequel to 1990’s Predator 2, 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. It’s a sport they soon realise has been going on for years…

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. Literally. And let’s not forget that it’s a lot of fun too. It’s good to have a brain behind the camera, but it’s important too to give the audience a thrill ride in front of the camera.

This is a script that Robert Rodriguez, fresh off of his 1995 breakthrough Desperado, 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 Austin, Texas studio…

It’s great working with someone who understands every element of the filmmaking process, and has the quick-fire solution to just about any problem you might face. 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, you know…

Fun enough, it seems, to have Rodriguez talking about a sequel.

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. It would be nice to see Robert and Nimrod taking it further. They’ve come up with this whole Predator Planet, and there’s just so much they could do with it. I’d love to see the story go on and on…

These kinds of films rarely get an easy ride from critics, with that 1987 original garnering very mixed reviews. Do you think the franchise has gained a certain amount of credibility, given its longevity?

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. So, you know, you always have to watch out for those true originals that break through amidst all the lazy, contract-filling product.

I’m guessing you might have had some weird dreams of late, given that not only have you been battling a fierce alien race in the jungle of late, but, in Splice, you wonder into The Fly territory, as one half (opposite Sarah Polley) of a genetics engineers couple who decide to take their DNA cocktails a little too far…

There’s definitely elements of The Fly, yeah, but there’s a little of Rosemary’s Baby in there too, and quite a few others. I think science is getting so close to what these two characters Sarah and I play in the movie are capable of, the horror side of it doesn’t seem all that farfetched. And is therefore even creepier than if you’d just come up with some creature from the a nearby lagoon.

The creature you speak of is Dren – ‘nerd’ spelt backwards – which Sarah’s headstrong Elsa creates from human and animal DNA, and 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…

And 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. Isn’t that wonderful when that happens? And Sarah’s amazing in the film – you feel for her, even when her character is so clearly doing something selfish and foolish, and dangerous.

If I can keep mixing it up like this, I’ll be a happy man…


Words – Paul Byrne

Predators is out July 8th/Splice hits Irish cinemas July 23rd