Randy's Corner Deli Library

25 June 2008

'Weeds' role grows on Albert Brooks


'Weeds' role grows on Albert Brooks
By Lynn Elber
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Albert Brooks' mordant onscreen neuroticism has lifted his films and characters to comedic heights, with "Defending Your Life," "Lost in America" and his Oscar-nominated turn in "Broadcast News" among the prime examples.

But it's difficult to find evidence of personal torment during an interview prompted by Brooks' guest role on Showtime's "Weeds." He's relaxed, congenial and wears no furrowed brow, looking younger than any true worrywart has a right to.

"I'll be honest with you," said Brooks, 60, in that familiar, rhythmically whiny cadence that can presage a riff, or a meltdown. "I've always felt that the word 'neurotic' was really 'Jew.' ... It's a legal way of saying, 'That Jew over there.' "

He's on a roll: "I thought of it years ago, when someone said, 'You dirty neurotic. Get the hell out of here.' Then there was the sign at the Los Angeles Country Club: 'No neurotics allowed.' I knew what that meant."

Brooks, who is Jewish, is busting up now and it's impossible not to do the same. He's an ex-comic who still revels in leaving 'em laughing, even when he has an audience of one.

Brooks' reputation, as recently and lovingly detailed in "Comedy at the Edge," Richard Zoglin's book on groundbreaking 1970s comedians, is of a brilliant standup whose departure from the field left a void.

It's a talent Brooks acknowledges but one he pursued to get what he really wanted. Watch "Weeds," which features him in a four-episode arc Mondays at 10 p.m., and you see where his heart lies.

An actor, he said, "is all I wanted to be."

"Weeds" marks Brooks' first return to series TV since he made short films for the inaugural 1975-76 season of "Saturday Night Live," excepting a handful of voice-over turns on "The Simpsons." (He also had voice roles in "The Simpsons" movie and in "Finding Nemo.")

As Lenny Botwin, father-in-law of single mom and pot merchant Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker), Brooks is a key part of the drama's relocation from suburbia to the fictional Southern California border town of Ren Mar.

His work on "Weeds" was as satisfying as being in a fine independent film, Brooks said. He's a fan of the show's writing and the cast, especially Parker ("at the top of her game; everything she does is interesting") and Justin Kirk, who plays brother-in-law Andy Botwin.

And, he said, the role of the grizzled Lenny was a welcome change.

"He's not the part I normally play," he said. "He's a gambler, a guy who never made anything of his life and hates his son. He's a fusty curmudgeon. If you isolated the part and said, 'Is this going to be a movie, or on Showtime?' it doesn't matter because the part is great."

No comments: