An actor who hovered far too long on the brink of stardom before getting his due recognition, Adrien Brody spent much of his early career falling victim to the slings and arrows of outrageous PR. Possessing undeniable talent and looks that recall both the wasted elegance of an Aubrey Beardsley illustration and a young and hungry Al Pacino, Brody spent much of the 1990s as a candidate for his generation's "next big thing." But despite roles in two high-profile movies -- Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998) and Spike Lee's Summer of Sam (1999) -- and the publicity that accompanied them, it was not until Brody was cast as the lead in Roman Polanski's The Pianist (2002) that he won the recognition which had previously eluded him.
Born on April 14, 1973, in New York City, Brody was raised in Queens. The son of a schoolteacher and a celebrated photojournalist, he was drawn to acting from an early age. Brody's first taste of show business came when he was 12-years-old and performed as a magician at children's parties; with his mother's encouragement, he subsequently enrolled in acting classes, attending both the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the High School for the Performing Arts. He found his earliest work in off-Broadway productions, and made his television debut in 1998 with a PBS movie and a turn as Mary Tyler Moore's son in the comedienne's ill-fated sitcom Annie McGuire.