Spotlight On Brody's Soldier Pal

The Early Show, Army Specialist Thomas R. Zarobinski
CBS/The Early Show
In Kuwait since Thanksgiving, Army Specialist Thomas Zarobinski had no idea his childhood friend Adrien Brody mentioned him Sunday at the Academy Awards.

In fact, he didn't even know his Hollywood friend was nominated for an Academy Award, Zarobinski told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen.

But Brody, who won the Academy award for Best Actor, said in his acceptance speech, "And I have a friend from Queens who's a soldier in Kuwait right now, Tommy Zarobinski, and I hope you and your boys make it back real soon."

Chen, who caught up with Zarobinski in the Kuwaiti desert Friday, said news of Brody's win for portraying a Holocaust survivor in "The Pianist," caught the soldier by surprise.

"[I am] shocked, flabbergasted. I'm so happy for him. You have no idea. I knew he could do it. And I guess it hasn't even hit me yet, because I've been out here so long," Zarobinski said.

Brody, who grew up in Woodhaven, and Zarobinski, a native of Rego Park, attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts in Manhattan together. Brody studied acting and Zarobinski studied drawing. And Brody even directed Zarobinski who played Lenny in "Of Mice and Men."

"He grilled me. Had me doing the lines over and over and over again. But got a fairly good grade," Zarobinski recalled. Then he returned Sunday's kindness and sent Brody a congratulatory message.

"Congratulations! Seriously. I'm so shocked. I told you, I knew it. I just knew it. And you owe me for this. I can't believe all this exposure I'm getting," Zarobinski said.

His parents also got some exposure. Ada and Thomas Zarobinski were in The Early Show's New York studio to greet their son and send him their love.

"Remember you are my hero," Ada Zarobinski said.

While looking at their son via satellite, Thomas Zarobinski Sr. said his son "looks wonderful. I love you, Tom. I miss you. Come home soon." And noted people are praying for him.

"Mommy went to the post office to mail you a letter. The lady recognized her and everybody in the post office was quiet and they all said a prayer for you in the post office Tuesday - the whole post office. Everybody's thinking about you," he said

The couple also asked their son to greet Sgt. Rose from Medina. "His mother came to see me like two days ago. His mother's name is Maria," Zarobinski Sr. said.