Adam Brody

The Dark Web of Adam Brody

The 'StartUp' star opens up to Playboy about the complicated future we've set for ourselves

Courtesy: Sony Crackle

Going into my interview with Adam Body, I had a very clear agenda: Ask a few questions about his show, StartUp, and then find a subtle way to get him to talk about Gilmore Girls and answer extremely important questions like, "Who do you think is the father of Rory's baby?" That's not how the interview went.

First of all, I'd only seen a few key episodes of his Sony Crackle series StartUp—so like any slightly lazy person would do, I settled down to watch the season 3 premiere and read some recaps. I ended up binge-watching all 10 episodes throughout the course of one day, at one point became convinced my phone was spying on me, and then went back to watch seasons 1 and 2. Things had taken an alarming turn. I was now StartUp's biggest fan. I no longer cared about Rory Gilmore's pregnancy. And naturally, I spent my entire conversation with Adam Brody talking about social media and how technology is potentially taking over our future.
"It's only a matter of a handful of years until the phone's just in our brains anyway, and who am I to say that that's a good thing or bad thing?" Brody tells Playboy mid-phone conversation, while I nod enthusiastically to my dog. "It's scary—it's terrifying because it's unknown—but maybe this is humanity evolving. It is humanity evolving. But will we evolve to our doom? I don't know."

StartUp, for those of you who didn't watch all three seasons in three days (it's fine, I'm fine), is a high-stakes tech drama about the owners of a Gab-esque site called Araknet. Brody enjoys watching the show with wife Leighton Meester to self-critique, but says it's a process that's sometimes "mortifying." Like me/you/everyone, he can't stand the sound of himself in voicemails or on television because "I sound disgusting." And when asked how he shakes such a dark role at the end of the day, he gets charmingly self-deprecating, saying "I wish I was a good enough actor to be able to, like, not shake something."
For what it's worth, I'd describe Brody's role in StartUp as highly shake-worthy. His character, Nick, is a dogged internet libertarian who's completely lost his moral compass by the season's end, and he seems to have at least one thing in common with the actor himself: a complicated relationship with social media.

"I'm a Luddite, and I'm slow to adapt to any new technology—not because I'm not interested. I'm just lazy about it, so I'll wait until all the kinks are worked out, and it's very user-friendly," he says. Later, he adds, "When I was on The O.C., it was pre-social media, so I felt much less scrutiny. I had much more privacy, and I think that was only good. I tremble at the thought, even now—and I'm 38—of like, what if I had a million followers? That's a responsibility that I don't know if I would want. And, at least from where I stand now, wouldn't want when I'm 23. I don't know, it's a lot of power in a very youthful mind."

When I was on The O.C., it was pre-social media, so I felt much less scrutiny. I had much more privacy, and I think that was only good.

Obviously, we should all stop everything, and follow Adam Brody on Twitter—where he mostly tweets about politics to his 7,000 followers, and encourages them to vote, donate to Everytown and just generally be decent people. Yeah, he's only been tweeting for a year, and yeah, his following is minuscule for a celebrity—but the actor, who was recently seen on the big screen in last year's CHiPs, has formed strong opinions. He views Twitter as a "democratizing" place that allows people to use their platform for good, and also one that made America what it is today. Run by Donald Trump.

"We got the fucking president we got for many reasons," Brody says. "But he was able to American Idol it to the finish line and bypass all the normal establishment checks and balances by just tweeting his way there. In that way, it's democratizing. It's terrifying, but I think it's equal parts good and bad, and just kind of the new standard. But, I mean, I wouldn't trade my privacy for it, ultimately. I'm still very happy that I came up when I did, pre all this noise."
Speaking of privacy, my favorite episode of StartUp—and I say this as the internet's most recent expert on the show—involves Nick realizing that his phone is gathering information on him. As someone who once had a targeted Instagram ad pop up for Ice Breakers Mints five minutes after pondering out loud whether anyone still ate them, it made me paranoid to the point where IG no longer has access to my microphone. But considering how iffy he feels about social, Adam has a pretty *shrug* attitude to the possibility that his phone's listening to him.

"We're just flying headlong into the future," he says, sounding like the harbinger of technological doom I never knew I needed. "It's like, yeah, I know there will be people that live off the grid, but they'll be the equivalent of Amish today. We're merging with technology. It's terrifying, but it's so fascinating. There's a very possible future where the data and the algorithms have so much information on us, that we trust that more than ourselves."

So, will we evolve to our doom? I don't know, but if we do—just remember that Adam Brody called it first.

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