Adrien Brody, the Oscar-winning star of The Pianist, stars in Detachment, a film that explores the troubled world of a substitute teacher. Tony Kaye, best remembered for the highly praised American History X, directs this intense existential drama, which chronicles three weeks in the life of substitute teacher Henry Barthes (Brody), exploring both his desire for and fear of connection.

Working with Kaye was an enjoyable and fulfilling experience for Brody. “Tony and I worked very, very well together, collaboratively, and I really appreciate Tony’s enthusiasm and unpredictability,” Brody said in Uinterview’s exlcusive video interview. Brody was especially fond of Kaye’s intensity. “Tony wanted me to go further and further and push it further and further,” Brody said. And all the intensity seems to have paid off, as critics are praising Brody’s performance in the film, with some calling it his best since The Pianist.

In addition to challenging Brody as an actor, the film also allowed Brody to pay tribute to educators. Brody admired the way in which teachers allow young students to become “more complete, whole human beings” and asserted that it’s a profession that takes “tremendous focus and generosity.” Brody’s own father was a public school teacher—he taught for 30 years—and it was his father’s service that motivated Brody to act in this film.

As Brody’s films continue to make clear, he is an eloquent, intelligent actor and you can hear him answer your questions in our exclusive interview.

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For more on Adrien Brody:

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Q: This movie deals with a lot of heavy struggles, like losing a loved one to suicide. Did you have to go back to dark places in your life to embody this character and was it hard to do so? - Allison Volpe

Most of it? No. Sure, we all experience plenty of things to overcome. I can relate to the character’s volatility. I am, fortunately, a bit more together than he is. I think a lot of young men react to frustrations with anger and it’s something that we learn at a young age. So, yeah, I can relate. I try not to. I try to step back a bit these days.

Q: I'm Kate from Poland. I wanted to thank you for all the previous film roles. You are wise, talented and sensitive actor. Each character created by you, it looks very authentic. You don't play, you are that person in the film. Your movies will accompany me in good and bad moments, and many words spoken by the characters helped me often in my life. I wish you success in professional and personal life. - KatarzynaZaczkiewicz
Q: What is your next movie going to be? - tnttrini
Q: Hello, my name is Shell. I plan on seeing your new film, Detachment. How did you prepare for your role as a substitute teacher? - ShelleyMurry
Q: Why do you think people continue to choose the profession of teacher? - AnastaciaBazhenova

My father was a public school teacher for 30 years or more and was also a really wonderful parent and a very patient human being and very dissimilar to my character. However, what motivated me to make this movie was partially an homage to his contribution and how crucial it is that we take the time to nurture young minds, so that they can evolve and they can become more complete, whole human beings, rather than perpetuating the degree of broken quality that we’ve all taken on from things that have been inflicted upon us. I think it takes tremendous focus and generosity.

Q: Tony Kaye is known for making movies that deal with uncomfortable subject matter. Was there anything in 'Detachment' that made you squirm emotionally? Did Tony demand extra? - Matthew Zingg

Oh no. On the contrary, Tony and I worked very, very well together, collaboratively, and I really appreciate Tony’s enthusiasm and unpredictability. I think that makes for a very interesting style of filmmaking, and also his encouragement to be unpredictable in the choices that I made was also really great. Tony liked to push the envelope – which is what I assume you are getting at, but that doesn’t make me uncomfortable. You have to go pretty far for a role… …You know the moment, early on in the film where I am yelling at the poor woman who works at the medical facility that is taking care of my grandfather – you know - so extreme. Every take, Tony wanted me to go further and further and push it further and further and, basically – you know – wanted me to rip this poor woman’s head off and then come back to – huh! – you know. Anyhow, you know, it is fun to experiment like that. I think it is actually really interesting because it creates such unpredictability with the character that you don’t know if he is going to self-destruct or do something incredibly positive. I have seen the movie many times and I still get that sense. He did a really wonderful job with that.