Working straight from the playbook, Adrien Brody will follow up his Oscar turn in The Pianist with...a supernatural ensemble drama from M. Night Shyamalan, set in 1897? ''Initially, it didn't seem to be what I was looking for,'' says Brody, who won't divulge anything about his role for fear of displeasing his famously secretive director. Well, then, perhaps Night himself will open up. ''What did Adrien tell you?'' asks the Signs helmer. ''Nothing? If he didn't tell you anything, I don't know what I can tell you.'' Dandy. But perhaps he can tell us why Brody was reluctant to take the part? ''I called him up and said, 'I've got this role for you. What are you looking for?' He said, 'I'm looking for the romantic lead part -- you know, the guy who gets to kiss the girl. I said, 'Well, this isn't it. It's the opposite of everything you just said.'''
Intrigued, Brody asked for the script -- and quickly accepted. Shyamalan will describe the character only as ''odd'' and ''endearing.'' One thing's certain: Brody isn't the leading man in this story of a rural village living alongside a race of mystical creatures. That's Joaquin Phoenix...maybe. (Okay, it is Joaquin Phoenix.) But if history is any indication, Brody's doubts can be taken as a good sign: ''If [Roman] Polanski hadn't been involved,'' he admits, ''The Pianist wouldn't have been high on my list either.''