Adam Brody: Porn has made us more peaceful

The "O.C." heartthrob talks about researching his porn star role in "Lovelace," and whether the film is feminist

Published August 7, 2013 11:30PM (EDT)

Adam Brody      (AP/Victoria Will)
Adam Brody (AP/Victoria Will)

In an era defined by nostalgia, Adam Brody is one kind of superstar.

Brody was the pinup boy of the Bush era as the breakout star of "The O.C.," the Orange County-set nighttime soap that featured a fast-talking, indie-rock-loving nerd at its center. Brody has yet to find a role as defining as Urban Outfitters-clad Seth Cohen, though he's worked consistently since "The O.C." concluded its four-season run in 2007, including roles in franchise fare like "Scream 4" and independent quirk-fests like "Damsels in Distress" and "Jennifer's Body."

But the 33-year-old star, best known for playing a young teen, is taking a big step with "Lovelace," in which he plays porn star Harry Reems, a real-life performer who died earlier this year. Brody's film is concerned at once with "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace's rise to fame and with her degradation at the hands of unworthy men, but Brody plays one of the good guys, a supportive costar who makes the whole thing seem like fun even when he's, well, performing opposite Lovelace in "Deep Throat." It's a long way from Orange County. Brody spoke to Salon about breaking out of the teen-star box as well as his views on porn -- yes, he watches -- and whether it's feminist or degrading.

I'm wondering whether this role is intended to aggressively differentiate from your persona as it existed on "The O.C." — this is so radically different from how you first rose to fame. Do you consider stuff like that?

I mean, I certainly enjoy variety and I don't want to get typecast, not even so much for anyone else's perception as much as for what's interesting to do, you know? It can get boring to do the same thing. But this wasn't some aggressive, premeditated move to shake off any teen residue, or whatever. This was just a great part with a great group of people that came my way pretty randomly, and I didn't even have to think about it, so, I mean, I was just lucky to get the job.

Yeah, the whole essence of being a working actor is always being excited to get the next job.

Yeah, it's a no-brainer, and like I said, it wasn't premeditated, it wasn't something I sought out, it just kinda fell into my lap … that's a double entendre …

Yes, that's an apt choice of words. I'm wondering if you think this movie is sex-positive, because it is funny and raunchy at times, but at the same time Linda goes through horrible stuff.

On one hand, I think it definitely doesn't deglamorize sex — they're using it to sell it, you know. If you see the movie, it deglamorizes it a lot more, but if you just look at the trailer and you're just looking at the posters, it's like, this is a sexy movie and sex does sell and it's exciting and it's tantalizing and it's provoking, and, you know, you can argue the same with pornography. But I think the movie as a whole kind of rides that line in between. It definitely doesn't demonize pornography or sex, and at the same time I don't think it glamorizes it either. I don't think you leave going — I mean, this is for mature audiences, but if an impressionable 15-year-old did see it, I don't think they'd leave wanting to get into porn. And at the same time, I don't think they'd leave going, "Porn is evil," not to say they took a safe stance either and didn't want to say anything.

I don't think there is a definitive answer, you know? I think about those questions anyway. First of all, everyone has sex, we're all the product — the result — of sex, so that's not going anywhere. I think pornography as a whole has probably perpetrated more good than bad; I mean it's probably pacified us. If you think about these devoutly religious, strict cultures, there's a lot of violence in those cultures. At the same time, for the performers, it seems like it's — even now — a hard life for, I would say, the majority, although I can't say for certain; and I'm sure there are plenty of healthy people from healthy enough backgrounds.

I mean, I think Harry Reems was a healthy enough guy going into it, from what I know; it wasn't like he was abused. I think there are some socially, mentally healthy performers, but at the same time, it's hard living in a probably drug-fueled culture, I'm sure. And I think there's a fair bit of violence within the industry, but within that, outside of it, and in terms of that perpetrating that or not, I can't say it does.

It seems as though it's something you've studied or are at least able to speak about with some authority. What research did you do about the industry then or about your character?

I didn't do that much research about the industry; I mean there wasn't all that much about Harry. I watched "Deep Throat," I watched another movie he was in, I rewatched "Inside Deep Throat" — that's a great documentary — and I found one long-form interview he did, actually a couple, in the '80s. And then I read this autobiography, which seems a little ghost-written, from the '70s, and it's just all positive and before he hit on hard times and doesn't really deal with any of the fallout of "Deep Throat." That was basically propaganda, but it was fine — I still have it — it's called "Here Comes Harry Reems."

So yeah, I did a little bit, but in terms of the industry as a whole; I know a little bit about what it was like then just because of the documentary and the context in which this movie is set, and I know a bit about it now, because I'm a healthy, red-blooded man.

What do you think about "Deep Throat"? Do you think it's funny, do you think it's sexy?

Are you talking about the sexual act?

I'm talking about the film. You can tell me what you think about the sexual acts.

Um, um. The movie, do I think it's sexy? I don't think it's sexy. It's incredibly goofy, it's very raunchy, I mean, as porn is, as you would expect it to be, but raunchy in another way too — in a goofy-raunchy way where they're smoking and eating while they're having sex. It's like they're filming a sitcom, and I know porn's like that now, too, but I don't know … it's also very hairy. It's incredibly hairy. You know it was of its time and place, but you don't see it now and think like, "Wow, this is the greatest porno ever made." It was just the first of its kind, it had an intriguing star as the lead, but it's not really a masterpiece.

Do you watch porn outside of preparing for "Lovelace"?

Uh, I won't get into too many specifics of my personal habits, but, yes, I'm familiar with pornography.

I guess you could say it's changed a lot over time.

Yeah, I don't think most people do it from start to finish in a movie theater like they used to. But, yeah ... [trails off]

Tell me a little bit about whether this movie … we talked about sex positivity, but do you think it's feminist to portray Amanda Seyfried as a little bit sexy, but also kind of violated? Do you think it's not feminist? Do you think it's neutral?

I think it definitely has a feminist side more than — I mean, some might argue the validity of her story, but this is her story, and if she is to be believed that she was abused, and this is a person from somewhat of a broken home, or at least she did not have support there at all, and was a young girl, and then married very young to an incredibly manipulative, abusive guy, and it's hard to not see that person as a victim. It's hard to go, "Well, you were 22, you should have known better," you know?

And I think the thing about this movie that's so nice is, you'd be hard-pressed to see it and leave going, "Oh yeah, she's just a sexual one-trick pony." And that's feminist in the sense, from a male point of view, or at least: On one hand you just objectify the woman and the act — it's sex and it's this -- and then you see the movie and it's a lot harder to be aroused. You leave caring about this individual and this person's struggles and feeling for her and the fact that she really wasn't into it and is not happy with her legacy. She barely did porn, and yet is the most famous porn star and that's ironic and sad, and so from that respect, I do think it's got a feminist angle, certainly.

By Daniel D'Addario

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