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INT: Josh Brolin

11.30.2007

So if you haven’t heard, there is a terrific little movie out there that is directed by the Coen Brothers. It is called NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and it is pretty terrific. Well, of course you’ve heard of it, you may have read our own review or possibly even gone to see it yourself. But if you haven't, go now. It is a somber, beautifully told tale with wonderful performances by Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones and a few others. It also features the extremely cool and talented Josh Brolin, who gives a very powerful performance.

I have a great deal of respect for this man and have often times found him better than the films he was in. But this year, he has really been given the chance to shine in films such as GRINDHOUSE, AMERICAN GANGSTER and NO COUNTRY. He is a fantastic actor who is capable of bringing real depth to his characters.

I recently got a chance to talk one on one with the dude and really had a terrific time. We talked about working with the Coen Brothers and Ridley Scott and the truth behind the many dog slayings in his films. We also talked theatre and I found out what makes the man cry. He is a very open and honest fellow who takes his work seriously but seems to take his family even more seriously. I respect that. And I respect his wonderful work in NO COUNTRY… which I’m sure if you haven’t yet, you are on your way to see… right?

Josh Brolin

Josh, what was your reaction when reading the script in regards to the lack of dialogue?

I don't know… it was a bit scary at first. I mean there was something frightening about it, you know, because, how do you further a story along without dialogue and coming from the theatre and all that. You know, that really being the motivator of everything, I don’t know, from what I’m used to. It was a neat thing to explore. It was a scary thing to explore. But it was a nice challenge and I was very verbal with my fears with the Coens, to the Coens. And I just said hey, if you feel me checking out or if you feel me trying to overcompensate in any way, please let me know. But they didn’t say anything so, to me it was either they gave up on me or [Laughing]…

I doubt that… [Laughing]

Or, you know, they felt like I was pulling it off.

Well you did.

I never really knew though, until I saw the movie.

It's weird watching both you and Javier [Bardem], it almost feels like you are on-screen together when your not.

No we're not.

Did you ever deal with him at all and talk about the film?

No. I mean, we had things that we talked about. We rehearsed for about a week with the Coens beforehand and we had a lot of questions, you know. We had a lot of questions about who these guys are and what they represent. Me, I always saw them as the same character with the same amount of principle and the same amount of integrity, just at opposite ends of the spectrum. But Javier may have seen it differently. I think that we’ve honed our understanding of what the characters were after the movie. You know, I think during the movie, at least, if I know Javier well enough, and he knows me well enough, I think we both work similarly in that we are pretty wide open during the films so you don’t really have anything solidified. As people you don’t have anything solidified and you react like you react, and then you’re surprised by new reactions and you go ‘wow, I’m surprised I reacted that way’. You try to and do the same thing as an actor, it’s just more interesting.

And again, that comes with the script being so light on dialogue, you have a whole lot of chances to really react and really take it in.

React quietly?

Yeah.

React interiorly?

Exactly.

Right.

How was the experience of shooting on location for this film?

I don't like being away from my family… ever. But they came to see me often so that turned out to actually be good. It was a very mellow set so it wasn’t an insane set to be on. You know, as much blood and all that, there wasn’t as much… I don’t know… murder as you would think. Just because the murder is so impactful, if feels like there’s more than there is. But anyway… no, [but] in hindsight it was nice [Laughing], you know, it was like anything else. I mean, you work nights, you’re tired, you’re running down a desert. That whole thing when I’m running from the truck, in the beginning, I was dying. We were in Santa Fe, well, we were above Santa Fe so the oxygen is thin…

This was your first time with the Coen Brothers right?

Yes.

How was that experience, what was it like?

It was great… It was great in the fact that I’ve always wanted to work with them, that I was very pleased to be working with them. But then when you're finally working with them and you get down to the work, it’s more about the scenes and the movie, and putting it together and what do we need to do here. And they communicate… the communication is very… it's taciturn but it’s complete. There’s not a lot of words that need to be said, you know what I mean, they’re very easy and they're very specific. So they would let us do our thing and then they would tweak. ‘Try a little of this. Why don’ t you try a little of that’, and that didn’t even happen often. So, I think it came down to their genius, aside from just filmmaking is they cast it in a way that they feel very comfortable. I think they put a lot of anxiety into their casting process and they don’t take somebody who they don’t feel is right, you know.

Now what’s up with you killing dogs man?

I don't know what that is man. I didn’t even pick up on that, literally. I didn’t pick up on that, I had no idea. And then I got an e-mail, or my publicity people got an e-mail that said they had heard that I had actually killed the dogs. It was like ‘come on man’, so I actually wrote the guy back and I told him my past and the fact that my mother worked with fish and game and was a diligent animal activist and I would never be a part of anything that had to do with the cruelty of animals. Anyway, he wrote me back a really sweet letter saying how embarrassed he was and how he had no idea.

That’s the power of movies man.

I know. That’s what I said, I said the only reason why it’s there is that it’s there to further the story and to further define the character. People aren’t going to go shoot dogs after seeing these movies, I don't think. I doubt it.

Absolutely not. When I saw AMERICAN GANGSTER in the theatre, that moment got the strongest reaction of all.

I know, it’s horrible. It’s horrible, but I think it’s effective in that… that’s why Ridley [Scott] and I, I mean I came up with a different ending for that character, it was a different ending then what was written. I was really hounding Ridley about it, I said, ‘look, the ending of this guy should be as profound as he presents himself, as he presents his ego’, it should be that profound at the other end of it, it should be that pathetic, it should be that cowardly. So one day I got together with Ridley in his trailer and he just started drawing, he’s this incredible, fine artist, and I was just riffing on what I thought it should be. And he drew it and that’s what he shot.

Did he do the storyboards for the film or does he have help?

He has help but I don’t know if he does all the storyboards, I can’t imagine he does all of them.

Yeah, that’s a lot of work. [Laughing]

Yeah, that’s a lot of work, but that guy is…. All of these guys that I've worked with are on the verge of manic. They’re just so prolific in what they do, and what they turn out is huge.

Well look at the year you’ve had man, you’ve had AMERICAN GANGSTER, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and GRINDHOUSE. It’s funny because you’ve been around since THE GOONIES, but this is the year that you are getting some really amazing roles.

Thanks man.

How was it going from a film like GRINDHOUSE to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN? What was the biggest challenge for you?

Losing the weight. [Laughing] Yeah, it was the biggest thing for me.

How long did that take you?

Well not very long. I mean, I went and did a massive liquid diet. Yeah, I gained a lot of weight for GRINDHOUSE. Which is just something that we thought was appropriate for the guy, to make him as… I don’t know, not necessarily menacing but that much more of a presence, you know and carrying himself that way. And plus, it was over the top and if felt like it was something appropriate for the part. But yeah, I did NO COUNTRY and I had a little bit of time, and in the middle of having that time and being on that diet, I got in this motorcycle wreck and I snapped my collar bone.

When did that happen?

It happened two weeks before I started the movie.

Wow. Talk about bouncing back.

Just grit your teeth and do it.

What is next for you after working with the Coen Brothers, Ridley Scott, Robert Rodriguez… what do you want to accomplish?

I was thinking dinner theatre maybe.

Well, I know a little theatre in Los Angeles… [Laughing]

I’ve actually done Black Box Theatre but I’ve never really done dinner theatre. That’s what we do now, we have a black box theatre company.

What's the theatre company?

The Tramp Art Theatre Club.

Fantastic. Where’s the theatre?

It’s in Los Angeles. It’s along the Santa Monica row of theatres.

How often do you put up shows there?

The last show was “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and that was a sold out performance, which is based on the life and death of Bon Scott. And that was last spring and we’ll put another one up probably after Christmas. I'm just finishing a full length play that we’ll put up.

Do you like doing theatre or film more?

They're both great. I mean they’re both great for different reasons. They challenge different aspects of your imagination and I love them both.

Well the beauty of theatre you get to play a little more.

Well, not necessarily. You know, you rehearse something, you play during rehearsal and then you figure it out… and what I find happens in theatre is you get caught in the rut of trying to please people. And the great thing about movies is the crew is basically unenamored by what you do after about the third day. So you don’t get a lot of physical response. And you just have to keep going back to this place, I don’t know, this spark inside you. And I think that’s where theatre actors like myself can get very lazy because you start pandering to the audience to get the reaction.

Yeah, you have a bad night and it kind of sticks with you for awhile.

Exactly. You have a bad night and you think you did badly when it may have been that the audience was tired, you know. That’s why it’s a great challenge to keep it fresh. That’s what I like in theatre, the idea of keeping it fresh night after night after night. If it was up to me I’d change the blocking every day.

Really?

Oh for sure, just to keep it, you know, keep you on edge. I think that’s the point.

So for your own personal entertainment, what do you like to see as an audience when it comes to movies?

I love to be surprised. I love to be surprised. I mean, there’s a lot of movies out there that… my worst experience in movies, unless it’s so well made I can get beyond it, where I can figure out what’s going to happen five minutes before it happens. You know, some of those are fine. Like animated films I love, I cry at almost every animated film ever made.

Really?

I don’t know why. Total f*cking sap when it comes to animated films. I go see the films with my kids and they think I’m insane but that’s okay.

Do your kids cry?

Not as easily as I do. Not even half.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com

Source: JoBlo.com

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