Josh Brolin talks the Coen's, Javier Bardem and the film's Oscar chances
Josh Brolin is having one hell of a year, folks. The actor has pivotal roles in, what I think, are two of the best movies of the year: American Gangster and the phenomenal Coen Brothers film, No Country for Old Men. He also starred in Robert Rodrigeuz's Planet Terror segment of Grindhouse and a supporting turn in Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah. Like I said, one hell of a year, folks. I was fortunate enough to talk with the actor over the phone about No Country for Old Men.
I've always been a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, but this No Country for Old Men really seems to be their return to the spotlight. What was the experience like working with them?
Josh Brolin: It was amazing. They're just people that I've always wanted to work with for the longest time. I never thought that I'd get to work with them as a lead character. They're very easy, very trusting in the process. Not a lot a strife and misunderstanding going on.
Javier Bardem is quite a presence as your pursuer, Anton Chigurh. What was the dynamic like with him on the set?
Josh Brolin: Javier is one of the sweetest, most unbelievably gracious guys I've ever met in my life. Listen man, we made fun of each other on the set, we tried to break each other up constantly (Laughs) and it just made it that much more fun, but it made the focus more intense when we had to do what we were doing. It was wonderful working with him, and I would work with him again and again. I think we both feel that same way. I think we could probably do a comedy now. We can't seem to hang out with each other without trying to break the other one up. The tension, and all of that kind of stuff, I think that was more in the beginning of the movie, when we were still searching for our character and really wanting to find that hook for either one of us, in order to do justice to the part. After awhile, you find that hook and you start to be more comfortable with it. I mean, really, our only worry, after a certain point, was just to keep our imaginations active, and the best way to do that is to fuck with your compadre as much as possible.
Can you tell us anything about that amazing gun that he uses in this movie?
Josh Brolin Oh, the cattle gun?
Josh Brolin Yeah, I've seen those before. It's great, I loved that Cormac (McCarthy) created that. You don't see that used as a weapon. I think that's a first. I think it just lends to the fear, the absurdity, the mystery of that character and the whole movie at large. I find it very unique. I find everything about the movie unique and I'm really happy to be able to be a part of that. Even aside from being a part of it, if I wasn't in the movie, it's still a movie that I would see over and over again because I find it, not only masterfully done, as filmmakers and writers, but it's just a different take on the thriller.
Yeah, it also seems that it has a Western sort of feel to it, but it's more classified as a crime drama. Do you think this might have been the Coen's attempt at a Western but dressed up as something else?
Josh Brolin: Well, I think attempt usually means that they haven't really succeeded, and to me, that's what I love about them. They don't seem to attempt anything, they just do it. I don't think they have an ultimate, resulted intention, like, 'Oh, I hope that this is our biggie.' I mean, they don't even follow the numbers, man. I've asked them, 'How's the movie doing?' and they said 'I don't know.'
Josh Brolin And that's not an affectation, that comes from a real place. It's kind of amazing to me, it's kind of confounding. They just love the process of making movies. They've found their place, their medium in storytelling, and they do it so incredibly well. Somebody asked me earlier, 'What is your favorite Coen's movie?' and I go, 'I can't do that' and I can't because I love them all and they're all so different. There are certain directors, even great directors, that make the same movie again and again and again. And you go, 'Well I think that's the best version of the story that they've done nine times.' To me, the Coen's are different every single time.
Josh Brolin: If you look at No Country for Old Men and think 'Those are the same people that made The Big Lebowski?' it's just confusing. 'There's no way that they did that, and then they did THAT? Whoa.'
So what are your feelings on how your character finally met his demise, which is pretty much totally offscreen?
Josh Brolin: I think that it's different than what a typical audience member is used to, but I think it's very appropriate to reality. I don't think you get to see that in film a lot, but you get to see that in life a lot, and I think the reactions, feeling raped of this character suddenly, are very very appropriate. I think if there were no reaction, it would be obvious that we didn't do our jobs.
This has been getting some of the best reviews of the year so far and some incredibly award-season buzz. What do you think this film's Oscar chances are, for any category including yours for Best Actor?
Josh Brolin: I think it'll win everything.
You think it'll win everything?
Josh Brolin: (Laughs) I just wanted see what that felt like, just to be able to say it, because I don't know how to answer that question, man. I think what the better thing is, that people are actually seeing the movie. That's the gift. I mean, award season is more like poker, isn't it? Roulette?
More like a crap-shoot.
Josh Brolin: Yeah. Is it gonna be that, or is it gonna be that? Or I wonder if it's gonna be that? Or I wonder if they'll compensate for that and give him that because they didn't give him that for that one?
Ha ha exactly...
Josh Brolin: I don't know. It's really kind of elusive to me. I wouldn't know the first way to answer that question... other than what I just did (Laughs).
Do you have any favorite stories from the set?
Josh Brolin: One of my favorite stories was me and Javier, off the set, when we were at a bonfire and the bonfire ran out. We were looking for more firewood at 3 o'clock in the morning and we went to a neighbors house. I made Javier follow me, and we're looking for firewood outside their house . Finally, we just found a fence and I started pulling fence posts out and putting them in his arms, and then we came back and enjoyed another hour and a half of fire. I feel really bad for those people now. I need to go and tell them that I owe them about ten feet of fence.
Finally, is there anything you can tell us about that you're working on right now? Or are you taking some time off? You've had a really big year.
Josh Brolin: No, I can't. We're looking at three things right now for January, and we may even be able to time it out where we do two of the three in January and then start the other one in March. There are a couple of really good projects at hand. I can't really say what they are, but I like them a lot, that's for sure.
All right. Thanks a lot Josh.
Josh Brolin: All right, man. Thank you.
No Country for Old Men is in theaters everywhere. Watch this thing!