The Schmooze

Albert Brooks on Thugs and Presidents

“I wanted to play a villain but couldn’t convince an American director,” Albert Brooks told an audience January 8, his curly hair framing a gentle cherubic face. The Film Society at Lincoln Center was honoring Brooks for his career, including his recent role as a psychopathic Jewish mafioso in the 2011 movie “Drive.” Given his work as writer, director and star in comedies like “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” and “Lost in America,” he knew it would be a challenge.

Brooks met with Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, hoping to secure the part. “Before I left our meeting, I pinned him against the wall, grabbed his collar and choked him,” Brooks said. “Then very quietly I said, ‘I’m physically a very strong man.’ Danes are white to begin with, but he turned clear.”

That bold move earned Brooks the part of Bernie Rose, making him a sure bet for this year’s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Perhaps more noteworthy, but less commonly known, is the 2011 release of Brooks’s first novel, “2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America.”

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Albert Brooks on Thugs and Presidents

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