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(Credit: Focus Features)


Six Definitive Films: The ultimate beginner's guide to Adrien Brody


From his Oscar-winning performance in the Roman Polanski war drama The Pianist to his recent appearance in the award-winning HBO show, Succession, Adrien Brody remains a consistent actor working at the very heights of Hollywood popularity. 

A frequent collaborator of Wes Anderson, Brody has featured in four of the filmmaker’s 21st-century movies, including the Roald Dahl adaptation Fantastic Mr. Fox, the ensemble classic The Grand Budapest Hotel and the director’s most recent venture, The French Dispatch.

Consistently showing his capability for wrought emotional performances as well as sharp comedy, his performances in such aforementioned films have made him a fan favourite. 

Rising to prominence in the 1990s, Brody has been fortunate enough to work with some of the finest directors of all time since, including Peter Jackson, Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Terrence Malick and Tony Kaye, as well as Anderson and Polanski.

Very much still growing into his potential as an influential Hollywood actor, Brody is capable of true greatness, particularly after considering his six most definitive films of all time. 

Adrian Brody’s six definitive films:

Bullet (Julien Temple, 1996)

Having taken acting lessons since the age of 13, Adrien Brody worked his way into Hollywood with middling TV roles, before starring in The Boy Who Cried Bitch in 1991, and, more importantly, Bullet, in 1996. Appearing alongside Tupac Shakur, Mickey Rourke, Michael K Williams and Peter Dinklage, the movie directed by Julien Temple helped to raise Brody’s profile considerably. 

On the brink of success, Brody worked to consolidate this newfound fame with later roles in Six Ways to Sunday in 1997 and Restaurant in 1998.

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)

Fresh off the back of such celebrated films as Badlands and Days of Heaven, Terrence Malick created the war movie The Thin Red Line in 1998, forming a mighty ensemble cast in order to complete his vision. Adrien Brody was chosen to feature in the film alongside the likes of Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, John Cusack, George Clooney, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, John Travolta, John C. Reilly and many more. 

In collaborating with the vast ensemble cast and the influential filmmaker, Brody’s industry stature became ever-more significant, allowing him to soon collaborate on the Oscar-winning film The Pianist.

The Pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002)

No doubt Brody’s most defining role, the actor’s performance as a Jewish musician trying to escape Nazi persecution is nothing short of incredible, winning him the Oscar for Best Leading Actor. Appearing with Thomas Kretschmann and Frank Finlay among others, Brody delivers one of the finest performances of the year and was celebrated fairly with multiple prizes across the board. 

Taking the lead role in the emotional war drama, Brody has rarely proved himself since in a leading actor role, with the Roman Polanski classic certainly illustrating just how great the actor can be.

King Kong (Peter Jackson, 2005)

Now that Hollywood had firm eyes on the star, Brody began to be picked up for more significant industry projects such as John Maybury’s The Jacket and M. Night Shyamalan’s mystery, The Village. Undoubtedly his most high profile role was in the 2005 remake of King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson who had only recently completed his iconic Lord of the Rings trilogy.  

Standing tall beside the likes of Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Andy Serkis, Kyle Chandler and Jamie Bell, Brody showed himself to be a significant asset to Jackson’s successful remake, bringing some emotional weight to the popcorn thriller.

Detachment (Tony Kaye, 2011)

Defying convention, Brody’s career following King Kong has not been a straight road, moving into independent cinema to collaborate with Wes Anderson for The Darjeeling Limited in 2007 as well as the throwaway sequel Predators in 2010. Detachment from director Tony Kaye exemplifies the actor’s surprising project choices, with the celebrated low-budget film starring the actor as a substitute teacher who desperately tries to connect with his struggling students.

Going back to what the actor knows best, Brody leads the film from the frontline with the help of supporting actors Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu and James Caan, once again reaching the heights of his acting potential.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

Despite a rich cinematic history, these days Adrien Brody is well known for being part of Wes Anderson’s exclusive actors’ club, as well as starring in HBO’s influential series, Succession. In what may be Anderson’s greatest film of all time, Brody features as the supporting character Dmitri in the ensemble film that also stars such names as Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Murray. 

Having since appeared in multiple films, including Wes Anderson’s popular follow-up The French Dispatch, Brody continues to be a fierce screen actor with plenty more to give to Hollywood if his Oscar-winning performance in The Pianist is anything to go by.