Like Ryan Gosling, Adam Brody got his start on a hugely successful TV show. (The only difference was that Brody was old enough to swoon over from the start.) Like Gosling, he won the heart of almost every girl between the ages of 12 and 40 before kind of disappearing, only to pop up in a role or two each year after The OC’s end. Also like Gosling, he has great style, a few stellar celebrity ex-girlfriends and legions of fans hoping he’ll appear in more than a Funny or Die skit this year. So if last year was the year of Gosling—he commandeered almost every single movie theater, magazine cover and conversation—this year could be Brody’s.
The first of the five films starring Brody this year opens tomorrow. Damsels in Distress is the first film from Whit Stillman since The Last Days of Disco and Brody plays Charlie, “a playboy operator” according to his co-star, Greta Gerwig. We wanted to know which parts, if any, of the role rang true with the real life Brody.
ELLE: This movie comically coins—and repeatedly uses—the phrase “playboy operator.” What does that even mean?
Adam Brody: A strategic operator. Someone who is hell-bent on the seduction of the opposite sex and will resort to any means necessary. I suppose, someone who has a lot of notches in their bedpost? Charlie is sort of accused of it, in the movie, but he isn’t a bad guy and probably hasn’t had many conquests. So, I guess it applies to anyone who is interested in courtship and is pursing almost any methods—charming methods—to get there.
ELLE: It sounds like a tough job.
AB: The truth of the matter is your real self comes out pretty soon [when dating] anyway. You can put on a lot of airs, but it’s pretty hard to hide your natural self, at least for too long anyways. I know that Whit takes a pretty sympathetic view of reinvention. As for myself, I don’t bolster myself up. I’m somehow more secure in just laying it all out there and owning who I am. But, yeah, we all sort of dress ourselves up in clothes and wit. So, where is the line between artifice and you? Lying can take, sometimes, courage.
ELLE: Can you explain that last bit?
AB: There’s something that I find incredibly strong about being able to lie to people’s faces—something that I myself can’t do. And it’s not because I’m good-natured. I could never with a straight face do it. It’s so different acting in a contained space where we’re all in on the joke and I’m performing, but we know it’s fake versus pulling a fast one on someone. I just couldn’t. I would break. I would have to let them off the hook. I don’t have what it takes to stand there and keep doing that. But, I admire it. Sacha Baron Cohen is the highest brow example of it that I can think of at the moment. I am so in awe of what he does. I think it’s so brave. You know, you’re in sort of an uncontained environment, so anything can really happen [and] he provokes those consequences.
ELLE: Your character in Damsels actually makes up an alternative identity to be more alluring. Have you ever done that?
AB: My middle name is Jared and I tried to get everyone to call me AJ in elementary school for a minute, not for any real reason, other than I wanted a change. They all started calling me Apple Juice, so then I went back to Adam.
ELLE: The fashion in this film really stood out, its modern take on the1950s, do you play attention to women’s fashion? Like anything in particular?
AB: I do and I sort of like, there’s just a wide spectrum I guess. I think the sort of 1950’s conservatism can look great and, at the same time, I like a bit of a hippie style. Specifically—this thing is like five seasons ago—but all the girls started wearing the high-waisted jeans from the 70s. It took me a minute to come around, but I really like that. That can be quite attractive. It’s not my favorite thing, but I’m picking a style at random. But again, that might be out now… And it’s not an insecurity about my height or anything, but I tend to not like an excess of heels. I like heels for an occasion, but otherwise—I think people just like to be comfortable. Every girl I’ve ever dated has a bunch of cute flats… I’m not someone that dresses formally all the time and I’m not really attracted to someone who dresses formally all the time. I love a suit, but at the same time, I love being barefoot.