When Adrien Brody was in high school, there were two comedians who resonated with him and his crew of friends: Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay. Recently, he had a chance to work with the latter.
On this past weekend's episode of Dice – the shock comic's meta-sitcom, which is available now along with the rest of the series' episodes via Showtime's on-demand portals – the Oscar-winning method actor played a fictionalized version of himself who was studying Clay for a theatrical role and getting a little carried away in the process. Early in the half-hour, the Dice version of Brody tells Clay (himself playing a more vulnerable version of himself) that he's turned to him for inspiration because the play he's preparing for is about masculinity. "I feel you embody that," he says. All Clay can say is, "Really? That's a nice compliment." And from there, Brody begins picking up the comic's affectations, from his leather jacket to his catchphrase, "Oh!"
A producer friend of Brody's approached him with the role and he responded to the way it poked fun at method acting and, tonally, how it showed that Dice had changed. The comedic possibilities intrigued him. When Brody got on set, he was happy to find Clay welcoming and see how much room there was for improvisation. "If you're in rhythm with each other it's, like, magic," Brody tells Rolling Stone. "It's really fun."
What he enjoyed most was finding ways to exaggerate the scene. "I wanted my character to be throwing all of his kind of abusive humor back at him," Brody says. "How does it feel to you? And at the same time, I came up with a fantasy version of a very strange Adrien Brody. I played it as an actor interpreting someone like Dice, and misinterpreting him at times, and overemphasizing certain things. We had endless material. They contemplated doing a double-episode, just because he and I would go off on each other for minutes on end. Everybody was in hysterics."
Part of the reason why Dice works is because of its off-the-cuff feel, akin to shows like Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But keeping something like that going can be its own challenge. When Rolling Stone asks how Brody managed to keep a straight face when Clay would say things like, "I want you to meet the most beautiful person that Dice ever did the fuckin' with," he just laughs and says, "You have to get into the zone." The show's director would encourage Brody and Clay to push situations as far as they could. "The scenes would run on and they wouldn't say cut," the actor says. "We'd do it to the point that someone broke [character] and laughed."
As he got into the role, he began saying things that would surprise even himself. "I was out of line a lot," he says. "I was like, 'Just be him.' The beauty of comedy is you can really push things. Hopefully you're with people with a sense of humor and can relate to it."
For the end of the episode, he performed the one-act, Off-Broadway show his character was attempting to make and found himself getting carried away. "I thought it was an interesting payoff where I'd do this avant-garde theater performance that I would then take credit for as a character, embodying the masculinity that he exudes, but then really it's just a fucking rip-off of Dice Clay, which is hilarious," he says. "I made up a routine that went along with his standup, so I did some of his old bits and I made up new stuff that was pretty risqué and threw it at him. That went on forever. I did several versions of that that I conceptualized and threw at him. That was a lot of fun."
"I told Andrew, 'You ruined me.' I can't shake him."
Clay told Rolling Stone that he found Brody's meta-interpretation of himself to be uncanny. "To see him turn into what he turned into was one of the greatest things I've ever seen," he said. "When he got into the character, it bothered me. I'd be like, 'Adrien, all right. Come on.' He'd go ... 'Don't call me Brody.' ... That's what method actors do. 'I don't act; I become.'"
In the end, Brody found that the Dice persona stayed with him a little longer than he expected. "Basically anyone who was speaking to me realized I had regressed a bit to my youth, my Queens years," he says with a big laugh. "It all came back. I told Andrew even, 'You ruined me.' I can't shake him. If I'm ever together with him, it just comes out. I echo him. It's very funny."