Times Staff Writer
Adrien Brody is best known for two things: his Oscar-winning performance in "The Pianist" and his nose. The 34-year-old actor is less known for his interest in motorcycles, which recently came to the fore in "The Darjeeling Limited," where he rode through India's Rajasthan Desert on a 100 cc motorcycle packing co-stars Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman on the back. We caught up with Brody to talk bikes.
Q: What's it like to ride three up?
A: That's a good question. There's a lot of responsibility, especially when you're riding down the opposite side of traffic in India and have the other two lead actors in a movie onboard. But it was fun. I think a lot of what this movie was about was the characters gaining trust of one another, and I earned their trust.
Q: You were riding a Hero Honda. How does that bike fit with your riding experience?
A: I've had worse bikes than that. I think that Honda was actually pretty great for the movie and was very much like what you saw everywhere. There would be whole families on a 125 cc motorcycle.
Q: I heard you had a motorcycle accident over in India?
A: No. I almost literally rear-ended a cow's ass with my face. Out of all the places I've ridden or driven, India is by far the most insane. At one point we were driving, and there were two semi-trucks coming at us on our side of the highway, which has a divider, so I don't even know how they got on our side. They were flying at us, and we had to pull over to the side of the road. It was literally a might-makes-right society as far as driving rules are concerned, so there were these tuk-tuks there. I'm passing a tuk-tuk, and as he moved, there was a cow walking in the highway. Just walking, and I literally skidded to a stop inches before a very comical demise.
Q: You crashed a bike in 1992?
A: Yeah. I had a bad accident.
Q: What was that about?
A: That was about people making a left in L.A. when the light turns yellow and they don't look. I broadsided the car and ended up in the next crosswalk, and it was pretty severe. I didn't ride for many years after that. I didn't own a bike for a long time until a buddy of mine gave me one of the nicest presents I've ever gotten in my life for my 30th birthday and for winning an Academy Award. It was a Ducati Monster, which I couldn't say no to, so I began riding again.
Q: What was your first bike?
A: Motorized? The first motorized bike I had, it probably should have been running on some kind of oil and gas mixture, but I had kerosene, so I put kerosene in it. I was young. I had convinced a really nice neighbor to give me her son's bike who had moved away. It was a really cool antique motorized bicycle, and it took me forever to get it to work. When I got it started, it was a major achievement in my life. I just went all over the neighborhood. It was so fun.
Q: How old were you?
A: I was probably 13 or 14.
Q: So you were in Queens?
A: Yeah. And then what did I have? I had a crappy Honda that never really worked. An old CB. And then I bought a Ninja ZX900. It had already crashed. It looked like something out of Mad Max. All the fairings were cracked. I took those off and fibered it all black. The whole core of the exhaust was broken off, so it was so loud. It was like an open muzzle. It had a hole so big you could put your hand into it. It was insane, and then I loaned it to a guy and he stole it from me. So that was that.