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Q&A: Adam Horovitz aka Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys

Ad-Rock on his acting career, the Beastie Boys’ legacy and his plans for the future

Brian Hiatt May 07, 2015
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Adam Horovitz at the 2015 Garden Of Laughs Comedy Benefit at the Club Bar and Grill at Madison Square Garden. Image: Debby Wong / Alamy

Adam Horovitz at the 2015 Garden Of Laughs Comedy Benefit at the Club Bar and Grill at Madison Square Garden. Image: Debby Wong / Alamy

For some gen X’ers, it may be unnerving to see Adam Horovitz, a.k.a. Ad-Rock, convincingly (and hilariously) play an uncool dad ”“ complete with infected sonogram tattoo ”“ in Noah Baumbach’s dark new comedy, While We’re Young. But the truly painful moment comes toward the end, when Horovitz throws the line “We’re old men!” at co-star Ben Stiller. “I know ”“ what’re you gonna do?” says Horovitz, 48, who returned to acting after a long absence simply because his friend Baumbach offered him a part. “At least we’re here, still.”

Who did you base this character on?

He is certainly like a lot of people I’ve come in contact with. When you get to be a grown-up, people are like, “If you don’t have a kid, then you’re not a real member of society.” So it was kind of easy.

You starred as a troubled teen in 1989’s Lost Angels. What happened to your acting career after that?

I got more serious about actually being a musician, as opposed to just somebody in a band that got really lucky. I was going on a lot of auditions, and I was really bad at it, and it sucked. I wasn’t getting hired, so it added up, like, “I probably don’t wanna do this.”

Any close calls with big roles?

I went for an audition for the Doors movie. And so as I’m walking in to meet Oliver Stone, I’m like, “There’s no way you’re gonna cast me in this movie, right?” And he was like, “No.” I was like, “Well, cool. I was glad just meeting you.” And he’s like, “Yeah. Well, cool. There ya go.” And I left.

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What part were you up for?

I have no idea. Certainly not Jim Morrison. The Jewish Jim Morrison.

Maybe it was Robby Krieger?

Josh Morrison. Oh, my God, we need to write that movie now!

Any thoughts on Iggy Azalea, the problematic white rapper of the moment?

I’ve heard all of maybe one song by Iggy Azalea, so I don’t know. I don’t particularly pay attention to much at all, really, in general. Like, I watch The Walking Dead, and that’s about it. All I know is that she sounds like a really bad version of Da Brat.

How’s work on the big Beastie Boys book going?

The idea of the book is about us as a band and things we’ve done, but also about New York and all the things we’ve seen. I’ve been doing a lot ”“ a lot ”“ of writing. Which has defi nitely been interesting. That’s a weird thing to do ”“ to, like, be a writer and write stories, and especially about yourself and things that you’ve done.

Have you given any thought to some Beasties archival releases?

There’s stuff that would be cool to put out there that I think people who like our band would be happy with. We got hundreds of hours of music that we’ve never put out, because most of it is awful. But some of it is pretty interesting, at least if you’re into the band, so I’ve got plans to do something like that when this book is done.

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The writing process means facing a lot of memories of Adam Yauch.

It’s nice reminiscing, going back to certain times and stuff, but I would much prefer to just be going and having dinner with Yauch instead.

Would it be fair to say there’s a huge hole in your life?

Well, it’s several holes, because basically my identity of who I am as a grownup is in this band, so that’s no more. And then my friend since, I don’t know, 10th grade, business partner, all of that stuff. It’s very strange. It’s completely confusing.

Do you have a sense of your career’s future?

I don’t know! What do you think, what should I do? I have no fuckin’ clue.

You’ve mentioned the possibility of a solo album ”“ maybe that!

All right, I guess I’ll get to work on that. I’ll be sure to contact you for my Kickstarter [laughs]. I did do this score for this Dock Ellis documentary, and that was really fun and it’s a good movie, and I think I’ll do that in the future. And so I just gotta figure out how to have someone hire me to do that. I mean, that’s the other thing, when you’re in a band, people are like, “You’re in a band, so this is the thing you do.” But now I’m just a person. I gotta figure out, what kind of person am I? But, you know, I could be in a worse situation [laughs].

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