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Adrien Brody Details His Villain Character In Ghosted And Working With Chris Evans And Ana De Armas - Exclusive Interview

Since his best actor Oscar-winning role in the 2002 Holocaust drama "The Pianist," Adrien Brody has been working nonstop in film, navigating roles in a variety of genres including mystery, sci-fi, and adventure-fantasy with "The Village," "The Jacket," and "King Kong," and horror, comedy, and fiction-laced biopics in "Predators," "Midnight in Paris," and "Blonde," respectively.

Additionally, Brody has been a go-to actor for filmmaker Wes Anderson — whose offbeat indie comedies are a genre unto their own — with such films as "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "The French Dispatch," and the upcoming "Asteroid City." Basically, Brody's career knows no limits, as he's also even dipped into true life-inspired sports drama as legendary Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley in the series "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty."

Yet for all Brody has accomplished in his career, he hasn't been called upon to play a Bondian-like villain — that is, until the new action-adventure comedy "Ghosted." Debuting on AppleTV+ on Friday, April 21, Chris Evans stars as Cole, a farmer and botany expert who by mere happenstance meets and falls in love with Sadie (Ana de Armas) in the brief time after they met. After Sadie won't return his texts, the lovelorn Cole throws caution to the wind and travels to London to surprise his new love after learning of her location, only to find out she's a veteran CIA agent in the middle of a major operation. Suddenly, Cole is pulled into Sadie's dangerous world as she tries to keep the Aztec — a frightening weapon of mass destruction — out of the hands of Leveque (Brody), a wicked black market arms dealer.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Brody discussed the process of becoming a world-threatening villain, his work with de Armas and Evans, and his special tie to former James Bond star Daniel Craig.

Brody loved the opportunity to do some comedic riffing in Ghosted

You get a script for "Ghosted" with the names of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick — two screenwriters whose names are synonymous with greatness — on the cover. Plus, you get Dexter Fletcher at the helm and Chris Evans and Ana de Armas as your co-stars. This had to have been one of the easiest times you had signing the dotted line, yes?

Yeah. I loved the experience. I loved the script when I read it. I don't think it was that complex to say yes or no, as I recall. It was a blast. There are aspects of it that were really fun. Dexter is such a joy to work with, and he encouraged a lot of comedic riffing on the role. In the initial discussions when I signed on, we spoke a lot about that, and we went there.

There are elements of that which were so fun on the day. I love the structure of it and the character as it's written, but there were so many fun embellishments on the day and collaborating with Chris. It was even more than we got on the page, and that was a blessing. That creative process was what I was so excited about.

Brody's work on Ghosted included fighting on a major set piece with de Armas and Evans

"Ghosted" is a decidedly different picture than "Blonde," where you collaborated with Ana de Armas. Still, I would imagine the familiarity of working with her was a big benefit for both of you in this film.

Well, Ana's a remarkable actor, and she transformed. She's nothing like that character in "Blonde," and nor am I anything like the screenwriter, the playwright. Chris and Ana also knew each other and worked together [on "Knives Out" and "The Gray Man"], and once there's familiarity and ease of working together, it makes your interactions as your new character much easier. There's an even greater space for that creativity to flourish, so it was fun. I hadn't worked with Chris before, but he was a pleasure, too, I have to say.

I don't want to get too much into it because it's a big scene in "Ghosted," but I will say it involves a space needle-type structure that holds a revolving restaurant where you, Ana, and eventually Chris are all involved. It's one of the most thrilling, nail-biting sequences that I've seen in a long time. It looks real, but how much movie magic was involved? The centrifugal force that you guys are experiencing has to be real on some level. It's one hell of an achievement.

It is an achievement. It's a real feat, it's a technological feat, and anything to create and build an apparatus like that was very impressive, and the end result is also very impressive. Even just shooting there and the location was something else. It's not easy stuff. It's amazing what they can do.

I've been on spinning rides before and got nauseous. How did you hold up? Did you have to take Xanax?

No. Bad guys bad have ...

Guts of steel?

Yeah, they have a good constitution. It takes more than a few spinning plates to throw you off your game!

Ghosted gave Brody his first chance to roll with Evans

The revolving restaurant scene must have been one of the more complex scenes that you've filmed in your career. How long did the sequence take to film?

We were working on that for quite some time. I feel like that took a great deal of time; I don't know. That took weeks. But I spent nine months with Peter Jackson on "King Kong," which was quite a feat, and we shot everything, from dry to wet underwater sequences and crazy mechanical things, and rigs, boats, and ships. It was substantial as far as the technology that was implemented there and the stunt work. But this was a blast. The sequence was fun.

You mentioned Chris Evans, your first time working with him. You don't only go toe-to-toe with Ana, you do with Chris. In the back of your mind, you're saying, "I get a chance to kick Captain America's ass, don't I? This is going to be a lot of fun."

I don't know if that was in the back of my mind, but now that you mentioned it [laughs] ... It was fun. He's got such a great sense of humor, and he's very talented and he's very easygoing. All those ... Like I said, there was a lot of humor on the day, integrated within all that. The threat was always there, and the character was always meant to be quite obviously a formidable threat. But I had Chris laughing on camera when he shouldn't be, so it was really a pleasure.

Brody says it was fun giving a different spin to his villain in Ghosted

Playing the main bad guy in a spy thriller, an espionage thriller, I would imagine that a lot of actors long for that sort of role. At the same time, you want to bring something new to that character. You want to do something that's going to set it apart from what other people have done before. What different spin, creatively, did you try to bring to Leveque?

There's a lot of footage. You could ask the director. We really went there, and it definitely wasn't by the book. There was a lot of joy for all of us in the process. The instinct is to have him be more purely threatening, but there's always room to ... The guy that is so unhinged that is actually funny is more scary because he has room to have a sense of humor while he is about to destroy the world. That is really great, and it's been done quite wonderfully in the past with wonderful actors, Peter Sellers, et cetera.

Brody is thrilled to reunite with Anderson once again for Asteroid City

I am so thrilled to see you're back with Wes Anderson once again for "Asteroid City."

Thank you.

It has to be exciting for many reasons. You get to reunite with Wes, but there are also folks you've acted with before in the ensemble casts in his other films. I would think another wonderful thing with Wes — because he is so creative — is that you can walk into any one of his films knowing the script and yet still be surprised how his vision turns out with the completed product.

Wes is a joy to work with and he's so creative, and it feels like he ratchets up the nuances to each one of these moments and the specificity of certain styles of interpreting things. This film ["Asteroid City"] is so wild and imaginative, and I'm always so impressed by him. Any time that Wes has called, I've always been very excited. I've had amazing life experiences, not just doing films that I love and I feel honored to have been a part of, but incredible life experiences, incredible journeys and friendships with people that I've made through those, being asked to be a part of those films. I cherish him and those jobs.

Brody recalls his work with Craig before James Bond

I'm a huge fan of a film you made with Keira Knightley called "The Jacket" from 2005, which co-stars a then-lesser-known actor named Daniel Craig. Was there anything special about Daniel at the time where you thought, "This guy's going to go some places"? You, Keira, and Daniel combined helped make for such a great movie.

Thank you very much. I love that movie, too. Daniel was ... he's wonderful in the movie, but he had played Francis Bacon [in 1998's "Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon"] before that, which I had seen before we had worked together in "The Jacket." He had done such a wonderful job in that thing. He was great. He's very talented and committed, and we had a good time, and next thing you know, he was Bond and was great at it. [He was] wonderful.

Let's hope in some alternative universe that we can have Bond come back and Leveque come back and you guys could go toe-to-toe.

Some iteration of that would be fun!

"Ghosted" debuts on AppleTV+ Friday, April 21.

This interview was edited for clarity.