In his most recent film, “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World,” Albert Brooks can be seen as a stand-up comic trying to entertain an audience in India. He tells a few jokes. Nobody laughs. He wonders why. Then he has the bright idea that maybe the crowd simply can’t follow him. How many people in the auditorium understand English, he asks? Every person in the audience raises a hand.
There you have it: an only slightly exaggerated vision of Mr. Brooks’s thankless career on screen. For decades he has been creating, playing and directing characters whose gloom is justified by their failures, despite the great deadpan dialogue they deliver and the groundless optimism to which they cling.
A small but loyal audience deems Mr. Brooks brave, brilliant, obsessive, fanatical and pricelessly funny even when he falls flat. A much larger crowd, the “Finding Nemo” audience, knows him as the cute, fretful voice of an animated fish. He now finds himself courting a new demographic: people who like alarming books.
With “2030” Mr. Brooks has made the nervy move of transposing his worrywart sensibility from film to book. Two things are immediately apparent about his debut novel: that it’s as purposeful as it is funny, and that Mr. Brooks has immersed himself deeply in its creation. “2030” is an extrapolation of present-day America into the not-so-distant future, and it is informed by the author’s surprisingly serious attention to reality. Unlike the fantasy writer who foresees a gee-whiz future full of alluring gimmicks, Mr. Brooks has dreamed up escapism about problems we cannot escape.
“2030” has a large cast of characters, like the Nobel laureate who cured cancer and the American president who will change his country in profound, irreversible ways. It also has frightening prescience. A 9.1 earthquake hits the Pacific Rim, with devastating consequences. The dollar’s run as the world’s reserve currency is long over. Debt is the era’s overriding issue on both the personal and the political levels, because the cancer-free elderly have stopped dying on schedule. The young bitterly resent the old, and the old have good reason to be fearful.
Easily one of our most anticipated titles in a great year that’s lining up on the Croisette, we finally have our first official look at Nicolas Winding Refn‘s “Drive” starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Based on the novel by James Sallis, Refn’s reportedly lean and mean film follows a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver-for-hire and gets mixed up with dangerous dudes. Sounds great and with this supporting cast—Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks and Oscar Issac—we can’t wait to see what kind of spin Refn puts on the material. Check out a larger version of the picture and synopsis below. The film hits theaters on September 16th.
EXCLUSIVE: Albert Brooks is negotiating to join the untitled comedy that Judd Apatow wrote and will direct for Universal Pictures. The film will star Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, who are reprising the roles they played in Knocked Up. I’m told that Brooks is in talks to play Rudd’s father in a film that will also feature Megan Fox. It’s an interesting pairing, Brooks and Apatow, because they are both writer/directors whose comedies have a very auteurish voice. Brooks most recently played a mobster you don’t want to cross in Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling.
Brooks also has a May publication date on 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, a novel that will be published by St. Martin’s Press. That book takes a serious look at what might happen in 20 years, when cancer has been eradicated and life expectancies have been pushed up to 110, rendering 70 the new middle age. Brooks is repped by WME and managed by Herb Nanas.
“Comedian and filmmaker Brooks welcomes the reader to the year 2030 in his smart and surprisingly serious debut….Brooks’s mordant vision encompasses the future of politics, medicine, entertainment, and daily living, resulting in a novel as entertaining as it is thought provoking, like something from the imagination of a borscht belt H.G. Wells.” Pre-order now »
Today Deadline Hollywood announced that Judd Apatow is in talks to cast Albert Brooks in his next movie, as Paul Rudd’s father. For most of today’s young moviegoes (unless they caught his guest shot on Weeds), Albert’s mostly known as the voice of Nemo’s dad in Finding Nemo.
In his feature films, Albert Brooks has traveled across the country (almost eventually) and to the afterlife, so for his first novel, there was only one place left for him to go: the future.
“I’ve always liked to think ahead,” Mr. Brooks, the comedian, filmmaker (“Lost in America”) and actor (“Broadcast News”) said in a telephone interview. “Not stupid-far ahead. A hundred years doesn’t interest me. But 20 years interests me, and more for what happens to humans as opposed to things.”
That’s the not-too-distant future Mr. Brooks will explore in “2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America,” a novel that St. Martin’s Press will publish in May 2011, the publisher is to announce on Friday. Continue reading →
This is a seminal year for Albert Brooks. After completing an ambitious science fiction novel 2030: The Real Story of What Happens To America and setting it to be published next May by St. Martin’s Press, Brooks has signed on for his first screen turn as a truly dangerous badass.
Brooks has joined the cast of Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston. Gosling plays a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver and gets in over his head. Brooks will play Bernie Rose, a transplanted New York mobster who comes to L.A. and is not to be messed with. Continue reading →
FRESHLY returned from the Middle East, where his new film, “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” had its world premiere as part of the second annual Dubai International Film Festival, Albert Brooks sounded exhausted, elated and relieved.
“This had never happened before,” said Mr. Brooks from Los Angeles. “There’s been no other American comedy that’s made light of anything after 9/11. Nobody knows what will happen. The audience could stand up and walk out, they could boo, who knows? I don’t have any road map here. I was told that, ‘We think it will be O.K.,’ but I was also told that people don’t mince words here. If you hit the nail wrongly, it’s like your thumb: you know it right away.” Continue reading →
Albert Brooks samples Muslim laughter from Delhi streets in his new film.
YOU’VE seen him in Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver. In The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and in The Muse, where Sharon Stone played the title role. Twenty-six years after comedian Albert Brooks played himself in Real Life, another idea for a self-portrayal unfolded in his head. The plot: Politician-actor Fred Dalton Thompson summons Brooks to Washington DC. He must be a diplomatic emissary for the US government. His brief: ‘‘Go to India and Pakistan and file a 500-page report on what makes the over 300 million Muslims in the two countries laugh.’’ Unable to resist the prospect of a ‘Medal of Freedom’ that the effort would fetch him, Brooks arrives with a big crew in Delhi in early 2005. Continue reading →
Middle Eastern settings are unsurprisingly writ large over the lineup of the second Dubai Film Festival this weekend. The Film festival, which has livened up the Gulf city’s cultural life, is seen as a venue for new filmmakers to present their often quite challenging fare to audiences of considerable ethic diversity.
Top of the bill is Albert Brooks’s satirical Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, in which Brooks plays a man sent to Pakistan at the behest of the US Administration to forge a more harmonious post-911 world. Although the film sends up US policy and American ignorance about the region and its inhabitants, Brooks told Reuters news agency that its eye-catching title had caused Sony to pass on distribution rights for fear of arousing Muslim suspicion and reprisals.
Also screening are the Israeli-Palestinian co-production and drama Paradise Now, and a documentary about the Christian Lebanese Forces militia that slaughtered Palestinian refugees in 1982.