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Goldberg's other side

The actor, who tends to get typecast, hopes his '2 Days in Paris' role reveals his complexities.

September 01, 2007|Stephanie Lysaght | Special to The Times

"I'm not 6-foot-1," Adam Goldberg says when he's asked what he'd like people to know about him. "That's on IMDB," he adds, "but, actually, I don't know why I want to dispel that myth. I like that. It gives me an extra 2 inches. That's one of those good fallacies." So, he's fine with that one. But he is tired, he says, of being typecast as a neurotic Jew. "That's definitely a muscle, in a way, that I have. It's one small part of myself, I guess, that I oftentimes will get hired to flex, to extend the metaphor."

He's currently flexing that muscle as the neurotic, Jewish Nick Rubenstein on HBO's "Entourage," a character Goldberg says is "just getting sleazier and sleazier" as his story arc continues. As much as he enjoys playing Nick, though, Goldberg is only half-Jewish, and there's a whole other side to him that he's ready to address.

That's why when Julie Delpy came to him to help her confront Parisian anti-Semitism through a character in her new film, "2 Days in Paris," Goldberg had his reservations. In the recently released film, a Frenchwoman named Marion (Delpy) brings her American boyfriend, Jack (Goldberg), to Paris to spend two days with her friends and family.

Goldberg had been looking forward to distancing himself from the neurotic Jew persona by playing a character with true dimension. "The compromise was, I said, 'OK, but let's deal with my actual situation; being half-Jewish, having this whole other side of my family that isn't Jewish," he says, sitting in his Los Angeles living room.

In a hilariously uncomfortable party scene, one of Marion's friends asks Jack if he goes to temple. "No. In fact, I'm not really Jewish. My mother was brought up Catholic, even though I have a Jewish last name and everything, so technically -- not Jewish," Jack says. "But your father is Jewish," retorts the intrusive partygoer, "so you Jewish too, man! You a happy, hairy, Jewish man!"

Delpy too plays a more nuanced character in "2 Days" than she has in the past. "I've known her for years and I've known other actresses who tend to get very fetish-ized," Goldberg says. "They can only be perceived as muses. And I find that frustrating because I think that there are these women, like Julie, who have a lot more going on." (Goldberg says that although he and Delpy, who also wrote and directed "2 Days," used to date, the movie is not a true story. "The dynamic between us is autobiographical, not the situation.")

Not only does the film clear up some misconceptions about its actors, it also clears up some misperceptions of Paris. "2 Days" presents a decidedly unromantic picture of the city. Goldberg certainly was, dare we say, too neurotic, to swoon over the city during the shoot. "I would get panicked because I wanted to just sort of blend in and not be this bull in a china shop, speaking in broken French and shouting in English to get my point across. So I just found myself, on my days off, in my hotel room playing music."

So, is he happy to be back in L.A., where people speak his language, smoking a cigarette at his house in the hills? "The hills feel like some weird, stopped-in-time, Raymond Chandler-esque place," he says, although he admits he'd rather live farther east. His current home is a little too close to the whole Hollywood scene for his liking.

"Most of my friends are high school friends and friends I made working at Book Soup." Even growing up here, the whole showbiz world seemed foreign to him, he says. "I always felt very star-struck and sort of like it was still this very impenetrable kind of universe. . . . I still feel this way. Like I'm sort of on the outside kind of looking into it."

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