Brothers Bloom star Adrien Brody--back on our radar

From that smooch he planted on presenter Halle Berry while accepting his 2002 Oscar to his misbegotten dream of recording hip-hop tracks with Diddy, Adrien Brody has at times come across as--how can we put this delicately?--a wee bit full of his insanely talented self. And what to make of the string of baffling film choices following his mesmerizing portrayal of an emaciated Holocaust survivor in The Pianist? Ever see him in The Jacket? The Singing Detective? Didn't think so.

But lately the oddly handsome actor has been wooing us back in little comic gems: the quirkfest The Darjeeling Limited and his latest, The Brothers Bloom, a fairy-tale-tinged caper in which he plays a reluctant con artist who wants out of the big scam, but whose love, an eccentric heiress (Rachel Weisz), wants in. "You don't know where the con lies, who's conning whom. Sometimes life feels like that," he says.

True enough, Brody's image is just as slippery. Regarding Bloom, he rambles into lofty thoughts about world hunger and self-knowledge. Then, hearing himself, he breaks off with a huge laugh. "I am not a heavy person," he insists. "Because I'm serious about what I do, it's often misconstrued."

Next up is Giallo, the movie he and his girlfriend, actress Elsa Pataky, made with Italian horror director Dario Argento. She plays a kidnap victim, and he's the detective hired to find her. Brody says he took the role "to protect her. I was very concerned for her well-being in an Argento movie!"

Recently, the two went to Milan--where he was snapped wearing a lethally bad mesh tank top. Slippery, indeed. And yet, one-on-one, Brody is understated and appreciative of his good fortune. "It's a rare job that can provide enlightenment, a greater sense of self," he says. Take that, Diddy.

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