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On a recent balmy day in Santa Monica, Albert Brooks chuckled about the lengths to which he’s gone to reboot his acting career, moving away from the belligerent neurotic of “Broadcast News” fame into playing a believable psychopath in “Drive” and more serious fare in “A Most Violent Year.”
So in your 20s, you trained as a dramatic actor and tried to pursue those roles but got detoured.
I was funny, naturally, and when I left college around 19-20, it was very difficult to get any acting parts at that age, but I was able to get on national television shows just making up comedy in my bathroom. I had an agent who said, “Just do that and you’ll get all the acting roles you want.” … It really didn’t happen that way. I just got further and further into comedy.
Then you started writing your own stuff and for a long time your real focus was making your own films.
When I was making my own movies regularly … that’s sort of all you could do. Because once you started writing and once you raised the money you couldn’t tell the people, “I’m going to stop for two years and go act in this movie.” I still have another idea for a movie I might make, but I have to say, I’ve been enjoying playing different kinds of characters than I’ve played in the past.
And they’re different kinds of roles than you write for yourself.
Absolutely. I wouldn’t write a character in “Drive” for myself. Nor even “A Most Violent Year.” I just finished a movie that’ll be out this year with Will Smith.