Clean: Adrien Brody Talks Developing His Passion Project w/ Paul Solet

Adrien Brody's accomplished a lot throughout his 34-year career as an actor. Having worked on various projects across film and television, nothing is too big or small as long as it challenges him. His efforts paid off, winning an Academy Award in 2002's The Pianist for Best Actor. On TV, Brody recently appeared in Peaky Blinders, Chapelwaite, and HBO's Succession. He's also become a favorite of filmmaker Wes Anderson with his latest in 2021's The French Dispatch. I spoke to the actor about his passion project for IFC Films in Clean, playing the title character, a garbage man with a tortured past, who attempts a quiet life of redemption, but soon finds himself forced to reconcile with the violence of his past.

Clean Director Paul Solet Talks Film's 70s Inspirations & More
Adrien Brody in Clean (2022). Image courtesy of IFC Films

"There is a lifetime of inspirations that have tried to make into one cohesive, creative endeavor," Brody said. "As an actor, I had been yearning to play a role like this for many years, and I had a vision for a story like this. I found it took me a very long time to find the people to collaborate with and help me bring that to life. I guess I love the genre; I love films of this nature. Not only did I yearn to play a role within that, I felt like there was a degree of complexity that I was hoping for in addition to this heroic or anti-hero character that felt very flawed and real. The story itself also represented a level of truth about what is going on around us that leads to all of this anger, frustration, and the hardships that young people face to overcome these obstacles to even survive, let alone find a meaningful, creative, fulfilling life. So I wanted to bring all of that to life and share that. IFC is a wonderful distribution partner. They've been super supportive. We have a theatrical release amidst the time that it's more difficult to achieve. I'm really grateful and grateful to be sharing it finally."

Clean Director Paul Solet Talks Film's 70s Inspirations & More
Adrien Brody in Clean (2022). Image courtesy of IFC Films

Working with director and co-writer Paul Solet, who Brody did previously in 2017's Bullet Head, the actor developed a great trust to undertake such a task to lead. "At the time of I brought this concept to Paul because we had worked together and I appreciated his skill both as a director and screenwriter," he explained. "I do have aspirations to direct them, and this was I felt like it's a very complex task to create something from its inception to be involved financially to hands-on produce on a day to day basis. To act in a very challenging role and do a physical transformation amidst other difficult things just felt like one too many pieces. So I wanted to have someone I could rely on to help tell the story. I think [Paul] did a wonderful job, and having him as a writing partner enabled me to take all these steps that I've wanted to do for so long. We'll see; maybe there will come a time that I'll be able to have the space to manage all of those tasks and honor my responsibility as an actor. I feel I already had way too much on the plate to kind of tell that at that moment in my life without having a creative partner."

Clean Director Paul Solet Talks Film's 70s Inspirations & More
IFC Films

Brody felt the time was right in Clean to tell the very story near and dear to his heart. "As an actor, you are the vessel you are hired to interpret someone else's vision essentially," he said. "You have to bring your vision to that, and hopefully those merge creatively and in a symbiotic way. There's nothing wrong with that. I've spent a lifetime doing that. I have worked enough and understand enough about that creative process that I want to be able to have my creative voice remain intact and not necessarily get off track by too many other creative voices in the room. I know my place as an actor, and there is room to have creative involvement and revisions as long as it meets everyone's understanding of what you're setting out to do, but you're still interpreting something else. You're creating a character based on something else. This character came from within me, and we flesh that out, but this is something that I have been yearning to tell and a complexity of this man that I feel I hadn't had a chance to portray yet in a role that I felt I could do justice to. So that's really how it came about."

Clean, which also stars Glenn Fleshler, Richie Merritt, Chandler DuPont, Michelle Wilson, and RZA, is currently in theaters, on-demand and digital.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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