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Adrien Brody: 'The Pianist'

Dave Price fires up balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Photo courtesy of Tom Ewart/NWA Photography.

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Adrien Brody had to wait his turn for stardom, but his time may have arrived.

Since winning the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, "The Pianist" has been collecting honors including a Best Picture award from The National Society of Film Critics and a Golden Globe nomination. The film stars Brody, the New York born actor, as a Jewish pianist who struggles to stay alive in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

Brody visited The Early Show to discuss the critical success of the film and the Golden Globe nomination for his performance in it.

"The Pianist" was adapted by English playwright/screenwriter Ronald Harwood from the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who detailed his survival during World War II. Szpilman was a composer and pianist who struggled to stay alive during the German occupation. When the Germans were forced to retreat from Warsaw in January 1945, there were only about 20 Jews left alive in the city. One was Wladyslaw Szpilman, surprisingly helped by a German officer.

The film was directed by Roman Polanski. The director had escaped the Cracow Ghetto at the age of 7 through a hole in a barbed-wire fence. "The Pianist" marks the first time that he has made a movie in Poland in 40 years.

Brody's rise to critical acclaim made a false start in the highly anticipated 1998 movie, "The Thin Red Line." He played Corporal Fife and had been touted as the lead of the movie. He was called the "next big thing" in Hollywood and glossy magazines. But in the final cut, the part had been reduced to little more than a cameo.

Suffice to say, he kept his head up and kept working. He co-starred in Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam," appeared in Barry Levinson's "Liberty Heights," acted as a villain in "Oxygen," starred in Kenneth Loach's labor drama "Bread and Roses," featured in the Yugoslavia-set war film "Harrison's Flowers" and starred in "Love the Hard Way."

His next movie release will be the highly anticipated film "The Singing Detective," opposite Robert Downey, Jr., Mel Gibson, and Robin Wright Penn.

Some Facts About Adrien Brody

  • Born in New York City, April 14, 1973
  • Brody was raised in the New York City neighborhood of Woodhaven, Queens
  • Brody attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York
  • He attended college for one year before dropping out
  • In 1988, he made his television acting debut in the PBS production "Home at Last"
  • Brody was cast as Mary Tyler Moore's stepson in the short-lived 1988 CBS sitcom "Annie McGuire"
  • In 1989, Brody made his feature film debut in the Francis Ford Coppola's "Life Without Zoe" segment of the omnibus feature "New York Stories"
  • In 1993, he won critical praise as a teen-age con artist in "King of the Hill"
  • In 1995, Brody garnered rave notices for his star-making role as a gambler in "Ten Benny/Nothing to Lose"
  • In 1996, he appeared as a gay Beat poet loosely based on Alan Ginsburg in the film "The Last Time I Committed Suicide"
  • In 1997, Brody co-starred in the noir drama "Six Ways to Sunday"
  • In 1998, Brody starred in "Restaurant"