Adam Brody has gone from lounging in Southern California's Orange County to hanging "In the Land of Women," and the 27-year-old actor says he's happier than he's ever been. Brody talked with MTV News about his new flick, in which he plays a young writer who escapes Los Angeles after a traumatic breakup. He also offers a spirited defense of that much-maligned city and explains why he can't wait for you to come up to him and tell him that you're from the "real" O.C.
MTV: Your "In the Land of Women" character, Carter, wants to be alone, but he winds up deeply immersed in the drama of a family of women. What does he see in each of these characters that helps him become happy?
Adam Brody: I think they all sort of serve a different purpose in that way. As far as the Hardwickes across the street, they are both very attractive, and that always helps. [He laughs.] But I think that Lucy [Kristen Stewart] sort of represents the young naivety of first love and reminds him of what it's like [when love begins to] blossom. And while Carter is going through this thing that is so devastating, he knows he will feel better at some point. He looks at Meg Ryan's character and sees her going through [cancer], a really dark, life-changing thing, and he sees love at a stage of compromise. It helps him with his own dilemma.
MTV: Your grandmother, played by Olympia Dukakis, is a comic character, but she seems almost the most important one.
Brody: I think that's probably it. The grandma says, "I have been doing this for 80 years, and I still don't understand [love]. You are not going to wrap your head around it because you can't put it in a box." There is a moment when he just decides to let go. [But] his revelations don't [ultimately] amount to a whole lot. You know, he doesn't come back home a much wiser person. But I think he comes back a little healed and a little more ready to go with the flow.
MTV: Well, he comes back to Ginnifer Goodwin. There are much worse things than that.
Brody: Absolutely. He comes back and meets someone else — the best way to get over somebody.
MTV: What impressed you about working with [writer/director] Jon Kasdan?
Brody: What's interesting is that people think Carter is specifically Jon and the Hardwickes are these fantasy characters Jon made up, but that's not true at all. He's not just making the lead his voice and everyone else fantasy versions of X, Y and Z. What it really is, and the reason I think they are all so well-written, is that they are all facets of Jon. Jon can tell you the experience that spawned every story, every character in this movie. Jon had Hodgkin's disease when he was 17, so that's where [Meg's] cancer comes from. It's all very personal.
MTV: Jon's a young director — do you feel like a young guy in the industry?
Brody: I guess so. It's amazing — I'm 27, but in a couple years I will have been in this business a decade. A big part of me feels like I moved to L.A. a year ago, but I also feel like a veteran, in a good way. I can go to a bar and know so many people — 90 percent of them I even like. I feel like I'm the happiest and most content I've ever been.
MTV: That's interesting because your character has to leave L.A. to become happy.
Brody: For Carter that was more personal. It's not that he wanted to go someplace more real, it's just that he wanted to be alone and L.A. happened to be his home. I personally don't have a problem with the culture of Los Angeles at all. A lot of people hate on L.A., and that's fine — I understand it. But I have surrounded myself with people who I consider just as good and just as real as anyone I grew up with.
It's actually a subject I've spent a lot of time thinking about. I feel like I have gotten a little window into this by being slightly recognizable. I think I can say I am a celebrity in certain circles, and what I've realized is that having any sort of celebrity is akin to walking around with money taped to your jacket or being very beautiful. It represents a little bit of power, and people want to grab onto it. But I think you would have that anywhere — if Michael Jackson walked into a bar in a coal-mining town, it would get ugly really fast. Anywhere you have money and wealth and fame and beauty there is going to be a dark side, there is going to be greed, but it doesn't mean that everyone is consumed by it. In other words, I think it is more that L.A. is where fame is [mostly] located, [not] that it's where all the fake, shady a--holes live.
MTV: Do you still get people coming up to you and saying something like, "I'm from the real O.C."?
Brody: That is the thing I have never known how to answer. When someone tells me they're from Orange County, I just don't know what to do besides nod. I'm like, "I'm from San Diego, I know where it is." Maybe nothing else is required. I understand why people would say that — it's a connection — but I wish I had a better response besides, "Cool!"
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