Since The O.C. ended nearly 10 years ago, Adam Brody has veered dramatically from Seth Cohen, the character that made him famous, picking roles and projects that have often been left of center. For Brody, it’s the result of a natural progression and completely unintentional, at least according to him.
“It’s all accidental,” Brody told ET of his eclectic career choices since melting hearts on the soapy teen hit. “I just take the best job I can find and [let] the chips fall where they may.”
He may have struck gold with his latest project. In Crackle’s new series, StartUp, Brody ditches the comedy (for the most part) and showcases his dramatic chops as Miami-based financier Nick Talman, the son of a wealthy businessman who is forced to hide his father’s ill-gotten fortune by investing in an unorthodox startup pitched by a young tech whiz (played by Otmara Marrero).
Though Brody has made a name for himself as a comedy guy with his signature self-effacing wit, he’s hoping that StartUp will prove he’s much more than that.
“I enjoy comedy and drama, and I feel equally good and bad at both,” the 36-year-old actor admitted, adding that joining StartUp wasn’t so much “What does it mean to my career arc?” as it was an opportunity rarely afforded to him. “I could have easily had the right comedy come along and been happy doing that. I think everyone loves to play in different sandboxes.”
StartUp may be Brody’s most mature role yet (his character is in a healthy relationship, successfully employed and isn’t afraid to drop the occasional curse word), and it’s no coincidence that it’s coming at crucial point in his own life. He and wife Leighton Meester, whom he married in 2014, just celebrated their daughter Arlo Day’s 1st birthday on Aug. 4.
“[Nick] feels very much stuck in his routine, but really wanted more in his life, and what that more is -- that’s interesting too, because if you ask him he would say, ‘I want to do good, I want to make a good mark. I don’t want to follow everything bad my father has done,’” Brody said, explaining that he took some inspiration from James Dean. “You can’t help but wonder if some of that is ‘I want to be powerful myself.’ It can be equal parts civil servant and self-servant.”
Brody also shares significant screen time with Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Fargo), who is “unpredictable” as FBI Agent Phil Rask, the former O.C. star says. Rask, who specializes in financial crimes, targets Nick in hopes of getting through to his father, who he’s ultimately after.
“He’s an animal,” said Brody, who also is a producer (“It’s a god-like sense of power,” he jokes). “He really is an actor who relishes trying different things and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone -- short of an improv comic -- experiment so much in a scene. That was inspiring and kept everyone on their toes.”
Fatherhood, in turn, has affected the way Brody approaches future roles and projects, though he admits it’s more of a jigsaw puzzle now.
“I do feel a sense of social responsibility in the creative content that I partake and put out into the world. I want to make sure that the values that we put out there are positive ones,” Brody said. “In terms of how it relates to fatherhood, I think that more pragmatically, it’s about location. Are you going to be away for a year? Are you going to be home? Where are you filming? How long?”
StartUp premieres Tuesday on Crackle.