Ever since his breakout part in Richard Linklater’s 1993 “Dazed and Confused,” Adam Goldberg has practically cornered the market for anxious, acerbic and socially challenged supporting roles. He appeared as Chandler’s chummy roommate-turned-stalker on “Friends,” starred in the blaxploitation spoof “The Hebrew Hammer” and most recently was a computer geek opposite Denzel Washington in “Déjà Vu.” But the 36-year-old actor-writer-director will assume leading man status starting Aug. 10, when he appears in “2 Days in Paris” opposite Julie Delpy, who also wrote and directed the film. Goldberg (Jack) and Delpy (Marion) are a dysfunctional couple who, after a disastrous trip to Venice, stop off in Paris to stay with Marion’s family (played by Delpy’s real-life parents), an experience ridden with cultural misunderstandings, overly friendly ex-boyfriends and hypochondriac meltdowns. Fresh off a red-eye from Los Angeles, Goldberg chain-smoked his way through a chat with WWD about anxiety, art imitating life and cowboys at The Regency Hotel.
WWD: You and Julie dated in real life?
Adam Goldberg: Right after doing a pilot [“True Love,” in 1999], we started going out and we went out for a year and a half.
WWD: Did you guys ever go to Paris together?
A.G.: No, we never did. I was actually just about to meet her mother there when we split up.
WWD: So in the film you were literally meeting her parents for the first time?
A.G.: Well, I’d met her dad because he had come out once before. And you know we had really gotten along given the fact that neither one of us actually spoke the other one’s language….I mean, the only English he speaks is like “s–t,” “f–k,” “tits,” and so on that level, we could both communicate with each other, that and sign language and hand gestures.
WWD: A lot of characters you’ve played, certainly this one included, tend to have a neurotic bent to them.
A.G.: I read that….And then I started making a list of characters I’d played who weren’t neurotic. Just so I could feel like I had a more well-rounded career. “Saving Private Ryan”: not neurotic. Tough guy.
This story first appeared in the July 30, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: Do you consider yourself a neurotic guy in real life?
A.G.: No, I think probably truly neurotic people don’t consider themselves neurotic, so by virtue of the fact that I might consider myself neurotic, I’m probably not as neurotic as some others who probably lack some degree of self-reflection….And I would venture to guess, by the way, that anyone who entertains people is quote-unquote neurotic because I think there’s probably something neurotic about needing people to sort of watch you, listen to you and tell you that you’re funny and tell you that you’re amusing and all that kind of thing.
WWD: And I’d heard earlier in your career when you first did “Dazed and Confused” you considered changing your last name to make it less Jewish.
A.G.: I was gonna go Goldstein. Just to kind of split the difference.
WWD: Yeah, that would have fooled them….By the way, you’ve got a kind of Western theme going on right now with the cowboy boots, denim shirt, mother-of-pearl buttons.
A.G.: I really like the Western clothes. Cowboy shirts and boots are good because they come off in a hurry….Just putting something lurid in there in case you need that.