His father, Elliot Brody, is a retired history teacher of Polish-Jewish descent who lost family members in the Holocaust. His mother Sylvia Plachy, the renown photographer, fled Communist Hungary as a child during the 1956 revolution against Russia.
In 1992, he was seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident in which he flew over a car and crashed feet-first into a crosswalk. He spent months recuperating.
Was friends with the late Tupac Shakur, with whom he starred in the little-known film Bullet .
He was furious when his nose was broken during the final fight in Summer of Sam . When he had it fixed, he didn't change it: his nose is one of his most distinctive features and sets him apart from other actors.
Was considered for a role in Pearl Harbor .
To prepare for his title role in The Pianist , he learned to play Chopin on the piano and shed 30 pounds off his already-thin frame. He cut himself off from his real life by giving up his car and apartment because he felt responsible to those Polish Jews who had suffered greatly and wanted to connect, to some small degree, with their hurt and despair.
In 2003, at the age of 29, he replaced Richard Dreyfuss as the youngest actor ever to win the Best Actor Academy Award, for his role in The Pianist .
Admits a shot of his parents in a passionate, back-bending embrace inspired his famous kiss with Halle Berry at the Oscars in 2003.
In 2004, Esquire Magazine named him the Best Dressed Man in America.
Did sessions in an isolation tank, performed prison exercises, and went on a protein diet for his role in The Jacket .