The actor talks about becoming the Forty-Third President of the United States.
This Friday, Oliver Stone brings his own take on Forty-Third President of the United States George Walker Bush to the silver screen in the highly anticipated biopic W.. The acclaimed director has assembled an amazing cast of actors for the film's many historic faces, including Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld, Ioan Grufford as Tony Blair, and Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice. But it is Josh Brolin that truly brings the piece home as President Bush. Without his soulful performance, the entire film would fall apart, and we'd be left with quite a dour outlook on recent history.
During a recent press conference, Josh Brolin talked about slipping into the skin of our most celebrated and mocked President of all time. More than any leader before him, George W. Bush has built a cult of awe around his image that is both infuriating and fascinating. And that is one of the reasons Brolin took the job. Josh discussed his transformation into W., and explained the rushed nature of his task at hand:
"The script did change a few times. That's how it goes. When you star in an Oliver Stone film, you have to lend yourself to everything. You have to become comfortable with the absurdity of life. It's kind of embarrassing to talk about research. About how you stay in character. How you immerse yourself into this life. I just spring boarded off a lot of the fear that I wouldn't be able to do this. When Oliver first approached me about playing George Bush, I thought to myself, "Why would I want to do a movie about this when I can watch this guy on CNN?" I had a very cosmetic view of Bush. And of Oliver Stone, to be frank. Once I read the script, I was truly amazed. Usually when you do a biopic, you follow ten years of that person's life. You don't get to go from twenty-one to fifty eight. After reading it and talking to Oliver at length, I'm thinking, "This is the greatest challenge that an actor could ever have. Can I live up to this?" Everything I did was based on the fear of not pulling it off. We did ask President Bush to be a technical advisor on the film, but he declined. I'm telling the truth about that."
When asked about Hollywood's fascination with our current President, Brolin turned the question back on itself, asking:
"Is it Hollywood? Or is it the media at large? This is the only movie that's ever been done about this President. What about Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live? That's what it's there for. That's what the people are there for. In order to exaggerate these things, so we can get some perspective on it all. We're constantly finding new perspective. We need to, because they are our leaders. What we haven't done...What the Europeans are great at...What we're starting to do now, I guess because of the last seven or eight years, is that we're starting to become proactive again. We protest this. We exaggerate that. The thing about this President is...Let's forget Hollywood and just think the media at large...The thing about this President is that he is an exaggeration that even he admits having become. When you do this whole thing, it's fun to watch. It's an exaggeration. What we tried to do was create a drama with the realities of those exaggerations. But not turn it into buffoonery. Which I don't think we did. They've done that themselves, but we haven't."
When someone brought up George W. Bush's ravenous appetite in the film, Oliver Stone pointed out that Josh had to eat twenty-six sandwiches during the shooting of one scene. Brolin was quick to clarify this and then went on to explain why we constantly see W. chowing down during the duration of the film:
"I love how this has grown. I only ate fifteen sandwiches. With Bush, the constant eating is more about the nature of having to keep moving. It's that ADD thing. And it's a diversion tactic. Even when he meets Laura, it's something for him to do. It's like an actor who needs props until they don't need the props anymore. He just never got to the point where he didn't need the props. When he quit drinking, it became even more so. You quit smoking; you quit drinking and then what? You run. You bike. You eat. You go to war. I I'm sure that everyone knows a person like that. I think he's the extreme version of it. And again, it's not an exaggeration."
Lastly, Brolin discussed the comedic overtones that flow so heavily through the finished film. About that, he stated:
"In order to get the full impact of this drama in two hours, you need the comedy. It allows you to take a breath. To ingest what is being said in the movie. That was important for me. I pushed, when I saw an opening, to either adlib or improvise a little bit. Bush is an exaggerated personality. There are gestures of his that you can't deny are hilarious. Which is why there's so many cartoonish impersonations of him. I remember we had one interview before we started the movie. It was with Entertainment Weekly and they said, "Obviously you're not going to do an SNL version of Bush." And I said, "I don't know. Maybe. Maybe that's what's appropriate. We haven't started yet. So I don't know." When you're doing the movie, you're searching through the tones. You don't know what it is. There are so many different versions of this movie. This version that is coming out is a very dramatic version with comedic overtones. It allows you to breathe."
W. opens nationwide this Friday, October 17th, 2008.