03/12/2012 05:10 pm ET

'Detachment' Star Adrien Brody On Public Education, Oscar Moment

We've seen Adrien Brody win an Oscar -- and, of course, plant a big kiss on Halle Berry -- for his part in "The Pianist" and now he's taking on another important role, in "Detachment."

In the film, Brody plays Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher who drifts from classroom to classroom without making any real connections until one assignment opens up a world of emotion and passion for him. Brody stars in the film, alongside Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu and James Caan, and says he can relate to the powerful character thanks to his father, Elliot, who worked as a public school teacher.

Brody chatted with The Huffington Post about his role in "Detachment," getting all glammed up for those Gillette commercials, and yes, about that Halle Berry kiss he hopes he never has to live down.

"Detachment" is a pretty depressing depiction of the public education system.
I think it's a relatively grim perspective; it's a stylized perspective as well. I do feel like a lot of it is based on the truth. I think you need to show a very grim perspective in order to awaken in us the need to change. I can definitely relate to the fact that many institutions are flawed and failing in some respects, and I think the film really focuses on the issue that education has to begin in the home on a deeper level. There should be more encouragement and support for young developing minds and it shouldn't just be thrust on a public school teacher.

Did you have a teacher that inspired you?
I had a great teacher back when I was in first grade. She had a big effect on me. My father was a public school teacher. He wasn't my teacher in class, but he taught me so much.

Switching gears, you're so suave in those Gillette commercials. I hope you're not offended if I say you're not the average-looking guy.
Average looking? No, that's not offensive.

You're a pretty big model now.
It's pretty amazing. I'm flattered. It's a remarkable thing for a company that is as established as Gillette to look to me as a representative of style and individuality.

What's your mojo?
I don't know. I try to keep it real. (Laughs) I'm not trying to put on airs or be something that I'm not. I get to do that in my "play" job so I like to be authentic in my real life. I don't view myself as Mr. Cool at all. I've never really felt that. I still don't feel that way. I feel that I'm not afraid of my individuality. I accept my individuality and my flaws because that's me!

You were a magician when you were a kid. Can you still do tricks?
Sure! I can break a pencil with a dollar bill. That's a good one.

Did you wear a big hat and cape?

Do you feel like it could be a fallback profession if the acting thing doesn't work out?
I'd do a lot of other things before falling back on that.

Did your life completely change when you won an Oscar in 2003?
Yes, it did. I'll give you a little anecdote. First of all, I'd been working professionally for 17 years prior to that -- working, struggling. Obviously winning [an Oscar] created a tremendous awareness of me and I was an overnight success.

My parents were visiting -- they came to the Oscars with me -- and the next night we went to dinner at a small Italian restaurant. We went in and I said, "Give me a table for three," and the hostess looked at me, somewhat astonished, and said, "Sure," and as we walked through the dining area, everyone slowly kind of turned towards us and stood up and gave me a standing ovation and that's as clear a change as you can ever imagine. From obscurity, working as an actor and occasionally being recognized by someone who's a fan of movies, to an entire restaurant acknowledging your achievement and generously welcoming you -- that's about as big a change as you can get.

Ever going to live down that kiss you planted on Halle Berry at the Academy Awards?
Why would I live that down? (Laughs) That was on par with the achievement in and of itself! It was its own achievement. I just double-downed.