New York City native Adrien Brody had a very clear reason for getting involved in Bulgari’s Save the Children campaign, celebrated at a classy Oscar week kickoff cocktail event at Spago Beverly Hills on Tuesday night.
“I’m a product of public schools. My father is a public school teacher… Without his guidance, I wouldn’t be here today,” confessed the star and newly appointed Bulgari ambassador at a press conference preceding the party. “I wouldn’t have the confidence to speak my mind… I would not have the strength to commit to the roles I have, to believe in myself in this business, which is a very competitive business.”
“I grew up in a working class neighborhood,” he continued, captivating the room with his candidness about his modest Queens upbringing. “And I’ve witnessed the effects of poverty and lack of education and lack of guidance, which falls under the same category, and (I saw) friends of mine who did not have the self-confidence at the end of the day and did not have the encouragement and who did not pursue those dreams.”
But fortunately, Brody rose above the obstacles. “I am living proof that nurturing in the home, regardless of the other influences of volatility around me in my life, gave me the structure and the stability that was necessary to succeed.”
Naomi Watts, the other leader in the initiative, sat beside Brody at the press conference panel, and offered the perspective of a parent. “You worry about your children no matter what, as a mother,” she said endearingly. “You just want to have the best for them, you want them to have, yes, a great education, but you want them to be confident, happy, healthy people, and to develop lots of other skills along the way.”
The “Birdman” star expressed that she wants to give her children the best education possible, to raise them in a manner different from how she was raised, and she also extolled the “mind-blowing and wildly impressive” efforts of Save the Children to intervene. “Children, they need so much… And what they learn in their early years is really what forms them,” she said.
Since partnering with Save the Children in 2009, Bulgari has introduced several custom-designed pieces (two rings, and a recently released pendant) — which were prominently displayed in glass cases at Spago — and just launched a charitable photobook, the proceeds from which will help give children in the U.S. and abroad an opportunity to learn and receive protection from harm.
STOP.THINK.GIVE., gifted to partygoers, showcases more than 250 celebrities (including party guests Brody, Watts, Jeremy Piven, Ashley Greene, Alexander Ludwig and Laura Dern) wearing Bulgari’s Save the Children ring, and photographed by Fabrizio Ferri. “I captured (stars of music and film) away from the red carpet spotlight, illuminated instead by the light of responsibility of doing one’s part,” wrote Ferri in the book’s introduction.
How did he coach his celebrated subjects? “You try to not put too much of yourself (into it) and let the person (you’re) photographing do something,” Ferri explained at the party, noting that he doesn’t try and get his subjects to relax, so much as be themselves. “You get the person… you don’t get anybody to act.”
“I don’t know what this man’s technique is, but he literally captures you within five shots, five frames — and apologizes, because it’s taken more than like two to capture it!” said participant and actress Lara Pulver, accompanied at the event by husband Raza Jaffrey of “Homeland.” “It’s full of integrity,” she added of the book. “It’s saying the right thing.”
Marcia Gay Harden had similar incentives for being involved. “(Save the Children) has donated $35 million since 2009, and I don’t see how you can say no to that. Those numbers don’t lie.”
Malin Akerman, who just finished the “Billions” pilot for Showtime with Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis (“We’ll see if that gets picked up!” she exclaimed), has been a longtime fan of the brand. “What don’t you like about Bulgari? They’re just a classic, beautiful jewelry line… And I’m a big advocate for education for kids,” she said, before citing the most significant of her current preoccupations. “Mommyhood — being a mom to a 2-year-old, which is crazy! It’s so much fun.”
Academy Award nominee Dern is also a huge child advocate. “Every child not only deserves an education, but deserves a mentor to let them know that they can effect change in the world. Unless you have one person telling you that, you may never be the game changer that this world deserves,” she said. And with her wide acclaim for “Wild,” she’s currently effecting such change. How does it all feel? “Lovely, very, very lovely… Exciting. It should be a great week.”
Brody, star of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” is also looking forward to Oscar week. “It’s a celebration, it’s one way to get together. I end up seeing lots of people that I lose track with. It’s nice to catch up. It’s a weekend that celebrates the achievement of what we all love, and I have fond memories of it,” noted the man of the evening, who attended the event with girlfriend Lara Lieto, and got personally involved in the charity which he approached to allocate funds and “bring some love and attention to Far Rockaway” following Hurricane Sandy.
And his commitment to Save the Children is only beginning. “We just discussed it tonight. I may do a trip abroad,” he said, explaining that the organization deems which destination is most needy. “I’m very motivated by anything that has to do with helping children or animals.”
(Pictured: Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts, Katheryn Winnick, Laura Dern, Marcia Gay Harden and Bulgari International Communications Director Stephane Gerschel at Bulgari and Save the Children’s Pre-Oscar Event)