Adam Horovitz, perhaps more commonly known as Beastie Boy Ad-Rock, is not, in real life, the loud bundle of sometimes confrontational energy he is in his stage and screen persona. He's soft-spoken, friendly yet guarded. That’s not to say he’s not as funny. He’s in a fairly serious (though very, albeit darkly funny) movie: Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young,” in which he plays a go-to-bed-early 40-something dad whose childless friends (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) start hanging with milennials (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). But that doesn't mean Horovitz — in real life married to Bikini Kill/Le Tigre/Julie Ruin's Kathleen Hanna — doesn't mostly answer in deadpan quips. That is, when he’s not gasping at the size of your iPhone 6 Plus (“It’s like half a sandwich”).
You’re not instantly recognizable when you first appear on screen in a dad sweater with a toddler.
The word “hunk” has been thrown around a lot. Also “heart-throb.” People have mentioned they’ve been taken aback. But I feel comfortable in that role.
Is it closer to the real you?
Yeah. It was definitely interesting to put on this ugly shirt and be like a normal person.
We’re all destined for ugly shirts at some point.
I feel like it’s chasing us all, the ugly shirt.
This touches on some dark themes about aging and wanting to feel connected to youth when we aren’t anymore.
I think we’re all afraid of death. Being 48 is more weird than frightening.
Time definitely starts flying by once you hit 30.
It happens fast. And it’s all just downhill. That’s it.
Do you think we just have to accept that we’re all going to break down and our backs will give out?
You definitely have to accept it. The alternative is a bummer. I’m fine right now. When I’m 72, this might be a different conversation. I might be just crying constantly.
But when you turn 72 you just no longer give a s—.
I don’t think I’m going to be very healthy when I’m 70.
This is also a film about the young and how they’re seen by the previous generation. How do you deal with that?
When you’re 48 and you play shows in a band, most of the people there are younger than you. You just sort of deal with it. I don’t really think about it so much. I’m really busy. [Laughs] I got a lot on my plate. I have to walk the dog three times a day. I have to order Chinese food. Then I have to wait for the Chinese food to show up. Basketball games are two hours.
Days fly by.
I really don’t do anything. Like, seriously, I have nothing to do. I don’t have a job. I don’t go anywhere. I basically do nothing and days just fly by. When you’re young you have all this time to focus on one thing. I remember there was a crack in the sidewalk and I would try to jump my skateboard over the crack. That was my whole day. And it was a fun day. But even though I don’t do anything I don’t have time to do that. I guess I could make the time, but I’d rather order Chinese food.
And the hangovers are worse too.
I was actually at my friend Steve’s birthday party the other night and I think I’m still drunk.
Moving to less depressing subjects, you actually pursued an acting career when you were younger. You were even in a film directed by “Chariots of Fire” director Hugh Hudson [1989’s “Lost Angels,” starring him as a juvenile delinquent in therapy with Donald Sutherland]. I read you were serious about it.
I wasn’t actually really serious, in retrospect. [Laughs] I was really high a lot of the time. That’s probably what it was. I’m just being honest. I was living in California and smoking a lot of pot, and not really focusing. And I think it shows in my work. [Laughs]
John Doe said when you made “Roadside Prophets” you seemed really committed.
He said that?
In Alan Light’s 2005 oral history “The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys.”
OK. I was not. [Laughs] But I guess I kind of was. I really like that “Roadside Prophets” movie. I had a lot of fun doing it. It was a huge hit. [Ed. It was not]
How many Oscars did it win?
I had a little ceremony at my apartment, and I won every one of them. When you get to your mid-40s, early 50s, just have an awards ceremony for yourself every once in awhile. It helps.