His new hobby? Twitter, that one-hundred-and-forty-character microblog has captivated the actor since the release of his last book, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, in April of this year.
“I started for real practical reasons,” he says. “Like trying to say, ‘Hey, I’ll be at a bookstore in Manhattan, come and say hello,’ and then I found it was an interesting way to see a headline and have a feeling about it and make a comment on the Republican debate. I used to call my friends and do these lines.”
He muses on his everyday life, with a comic twist. “Great time in Toronto,” he tweeted about his recent trip to the Toronto International Film Festival. “Great people. If you can make it here you can make it….well, in most parts of Canada.” Short and sardonic, the tweets are worth a read, but their short form goes against his usual style.
“As I said in one of my early tweets, ‘Twitter is turning us all into Bob Hope,” because my whole comedy career was as the anti-Hope. I liked to take seven minutes to tell you something and now I’m back to, ‘Liz looked out the door!’ “My shoes are wet!’ The real test of twitter will be to see if I can ever write in long form again. If it’s killed me, it’s been the devil.”
One thing he’ll certainly be tweeting about this weekend is Drive, the new film he co-stars in with Hollywood it-boy Ryan Gosling.
Unlike his best known roles—like Aaron Altman in Broadcast News or Marlin the clownfish in Finding Nemo—he’s not playing it for laughs this time. In this stylish crime drama he is a shady character named Bernie Rose. In an early scene Gosling declines a handshake from Rose. The younger actor stares at the gesture of friendship for a moment before declining to shake. “My hands are a little dirty,” he says. “So are mine,” replies Rose.
It’s a great scene which tells us that nobody in this movie is above boards and it’s something different for the actor.
“The same twelve people play all the roles,” he says. “Even though you may like an actor, there’s no surprise anymore. When Edward G. Robinson came on-screen you knew what he was going to do. So the fact that [director] Nicolas [Winding Refn] thought this was a good idea worked for everybody. I wanted to try something different. It doesn’t let the audience know one hundred percent just because they see me. As a matter of fact, they might even think something different. It’s always a good thing in movies if you can do that and pull it off.”
His performance is getting great buzz—he even manages to upstage Gosling—and says it is a movie that sticks with you. After seeing it for the first time he couldn’t get it out of his head.
“Both my wife and I, like four days later, said, ‘Are you still thinking about this?’ I don’t know why. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I said to Nicolas, ‘I felt like I’ve had a dream. The movie started and ended and where did I go?’ Nicolas consciously talks about movies like that. He says dreams are 94 minutes in length, and has all sorts of theories, but whatever it is, it sticks there.”
Want to know more about the movie? Check out his twitter feed at @AlbertBrooks.