Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beastie Boy Ad-Rock discusses new film While We're Young

In Noah Baumbach's witty social comedy While We're Young, Ben Stiller is Josh, a 40-something documentarian who becomes enraptured with a new 20-something protege, Jamie, played by Girls star Adam Driver.
The older man suddenly procures a vintage bicycle and starts wearing a hat, trying to reclaim the outlook and energy of the young.
The voice of reason that tries to get through to Josh is his friend Fletcher, a greying lawyer happy to stay at home in his Brooklyn apartment with his Wilco CDs and newly born baby. "We're old men now," Fletcher reminds Josh, and what may surprise audiences is that the voice of middle-age reason is portrayed by Adam Horovitz, better known to successive generations as Ad-Rock, one-third of the perennially youthful and joyfully raucous hip-hop trio the Beastie Boys.
Former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz stars in While We’re Young.
Former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz stars in While We’re Young.
"It wasn't the most fun I've had because it really was a serious thing. I had to focus," says the 48-year-old Horovitz. "I got something different out of it, and personally that was what I needed because I'm not that guy in a band any more. I have to figure out who I am now because I'd always assumed that I was going to be one of the Beastie Boys forever."
That assumption ended in May of 2012 when Horovitz's bandmate, Adam "MCA" Yauch, died after developing cancer of the salivary gland. A grieving Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond had no intention of carrying on without the friend with whom they had shaped adolescent taste, delighted fans and sold 40 million albums worldwide.
Horovitz and Diamond are working on a Beastie Boys book, but the former's projects are more piecemeal. There's a forthcoming collaboration with David Byrne and long-time Beastie Boys sidekick Keyboard Money Mark, and Horovitz plays bass in the Tender Moments, the backing band for his friend, New York cabaret artist Bridget Everett.

"My sister said, 'What's your plan?' I was like, 'I don't know, show up and wing it?' And she was like, 'That's particularly stupid'," says Horovitz. "My best friend is a great actor and she came over one day and we seriously talked it through."
When Baumbach – a fellow New Yorker whom Horovitz and his older sister Rachael, a film producer, had known for two decades – casually offered the rapper a role in While We're Young, Horovitz figured he would be the movie's broad comic relief, which suited him fine. Reading the script, however, he realised that Fletcher was a bittersweet dramatic part.
Baumbach's casting instincts weren't entirely unfounded. Aside from goofing around in the Beastie Boys' many video clips, Horovitz had a haphazard acting CV that included several leading roles in independent productions such as 1989's Lost Angels and 1992's Roadside Prophets. He tried to audition for Oliver Stone's The Doors, but the filmmaker and the budding actor took one look at each other and ended the casting session.
"I don't know what made Noah think I could do this. It's a pretty serious thing to ask of someone who doesn't think of themselves as an actor," concedes Horovitz, who is married to musician and Riot Grrrl activist Kathleen Hanna. "He'll do, like, 40 takes and I was not expecting that. And he's as dry as burnt toast without butter."

Horovitz's performance as Fletcher catches a tug of conflicting emotions – including loyalty, love, honesty and hope – and makes each a link in the single chain of his character. It also lets him rock a Baby Bjorn.
"I didn't embarrass myself," decides Horovitz, and he retains the inclusive energy and wisecracking banter that helped keep the Beastie Boys accessible even as their fame grew. His taste in humour is self-deprecating: Horovitz laughs when he recalls how the Hollywood agent who did his While We're Young contract told him they didn't need a deal between the two of them because she was sure him acting was "just a one-off thing".
Horovitz has sympathy for both sides of the movie's generation gap, whether it's Generation X struggling to understand how they reached middle age, or the ambitions of Generation Y's young hopefuls. Every era's movement, he believes, is ultimately similar.
"Our generation making fun of the younger generation is the same as when we were the younger generation and the baby boomers were making fun of us," he observes. "Every generation is kind of a hipster generation and then you're not. Certainly when I was 20 years old a lot of 40-year-olds were making fun of me."

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