Casting Adrien Brody as Jack Starks
For the lead role of tormented war veteran Jack Starks, Director John Maybury chose Adrien Brody, who won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Roman Polanski's The Pianist
-making him the youngest person to ever receive the honor. Prior to The Jacket
, Brody was already well known to Steven Soderbergh, who cast the young Brody in his 1993 film King of the Hill
. "Adrien isn't your archetypal heroic leading man," says Maybury, "but what he brings is an interesting, enigmatic quality to the role. And because he's not the stereotypical hero, there's a more of an edge and more danger to that character, which makes the character's silences much richer and denser. It's what he doesn't say that's interesting."
Brody describes why he was drawn to the part, "What I've done when choosing work," he says, "is to try to find things that continually challenge me and explore different aspects of human nature-either things I have experienced, or that I may not know about. To me, Jack Starks is a clean slate. The role is about who the character is, not where he is from and what his heritage is. Starks is searching for his identity, but is not bound to his past."
While the audience is free to speculate as to whether Starks' out-of-body experiences in the drawer are real or a product of his imagination, Brody's goal was to craft a performance of maximum authenticity. "I have to exist in his world, so I have to make events real and logical for Starks," he explains. "He has no sense of his past, but he has strength and a survival instinct, some of which may be attributed to his military training. And he possesses a quality that a lot of people don't have-to look someone in the eye and expect the truth from them, because he is as honest as he can be. I've tried to tap into the stand-up guy within myself to put that across."
Brody admits that the character's psychological journey was a revelation to him. "Being in a mental institution when he is not insane, but is treated as if he is, and the realization that his experiences there could drive him insane, was shocking to me," he says. "It gave me a greater understanding of how helpless so many people are, as victims of a system which controls them and keeps them down, whether in the military or mental institutions or being incarcerated by poverty." He adds, "There is a possibility that a lot of what happens to Starks is what he sees in those moments before he died-as life flashes before him-elements of the life he led, or the life he wished he had led. But to me, Starks has to live as if, bizarre as it may seem, all these things are happening."
Brody had seen Maybury's film Love is the Devil
, and found it deeply inspirational. "John has an incredible visual creative sense, a highly stylized but still intimate approach that reminds me of my mother's photography," says Brody, whose mother, Hungarian-born photographer Sylvia Plachy, has received numerous awards and accolades for her images. "It's unique. As an actor is it difficult to convey everything about the story, and if a director doesn't share your perspective, then some of your choices won't translate onto the screen. John and I absolutely agreed on the essence of the character and the story. As a director, I've learned a great deal from him. He captures a closeness and intimacy that is sometimes lost in other films. For instance, he'll shoot a close up of eyes in such a dramatic way that is as powerful as a sweeping landscape. That closeness allows the audience to feel they are watching your every emotion without ever being caught."
Like Maybury, Brody was intrigued by the film's absence of a distinct genre identity. " The Jacket
can't easily be defined," he says. "There are fascinating elements-a love story, drama, and moments of horror. It's not a happy story; it's tormented with surreal moments, but in the end it is an amazing love story. Every man wants to have a woman like Jackie by his side-someone who supports you, but at the same time, you can solve their problems and make their life beautiful."
This film information was taken from the film's Official Production Notes.
This film is rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity.
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