So Thanos, Cable, and Gurney Halleck walk into a bar. The bartender looks up at them and says, "Gosh. You all look like Josh Brolin." That joke might have fallen flatter than the box office performance of "Jonah Hex," but it does illustrate one thing: Brolin is a recognized face around the globe and has portrayed more than a few iconic parts throughout the years.
As the son of James Brolin and the stepson of Barbra Streisand, he had some mighty big shoes to fill around his home, but he’s undeniably made his own mark on the entertainment industry with appearances in films such as "No Country for Old Men," "Avengers: Infinity War," "Dune," and "Sicario." The natural talent was never in question; however, it took almost two decades after his acting career began for him to begin receiving the type of plaudits that his performances merited. Since then, he’s gone on to establish himself as one of the most in-demand actors in the industry, as well as someone who gives an entertaining interview.
That being said, his journey to superstardom has been just as exciting as the landmarks and pitstops. So let’s get rollin’ with Brolin and find out more about the actor.
Josh Brolin hated Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex might not be one of the first heroes who comes to mind when someone mentions DC Comics. That said, the rugged bounty hunter has featured in some compelling and entertaining storylines in the comics. The same cannot be said of the 2010 live-action adaptation that starred Josh Brolin as the titular gunslinger in a movie that fell apart within minutes of its opening scene. With a 12% critical approval rating and 20% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, reviewers and fans were mostly in agreement that it’s one of the worst comic book movies of all time.
Speaking on the "Nerdist" podcast (via IndieWire), Brolin chose violence instead of diplomacy when discussing his experience on the film. "Oh, ‘Jonah Hex,’ hated it. Hated it," he said. "The experience of making it — that would have been a better movie based on what we did. As opposed to what ended up happening to it, which is going back and reshooting 66 pages in 12 days." Brolin added that the film didn’t even need to have a massive budget, but it was sadly impacted by producer issues and drastic script rewrites. Ah, good old studio politics!
He lost an audition for being too committed to the part
There’s advice that suggests one should walk the talk when they decide to do something. In short, it means showing full and absolute commitment to the cause. Some actors believe the best way to achieve this is through method acting and becoming absorbed in the part for the entirety of production. Then, there are others who will take it one step further by demonstrating they’re all business in the audition. Josh Brolin decided to mix a bit of the two in his audition for "The Fly II," showcasing how the character would have turned into the creature in a graphic and equally hilarious manner.
"I went in there, man, and I totally committed," Brolin revealed on Hot Ones. "I did this for like 22 years for pretty much every audition I ever did, but I was on the ground, and I was frothing at the mouth because he’s in a chrysalis." The actor said he was thanked for his time by the people in attendance and when he arrived home, he had a message from his agent who asked him what he was thinking.
His reason for playing Thanos
After Josh Brolin’s experience on "Jonah Hex," it was surprising to see him climb back onto the comic book movie saddle by playing Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Mad Titan was a role that would have required a lot of CGI and mocap — something that might not seem instantly appealing to an actor — so why exactly did Brolin say yes to playing the purple warlord whose favorite band was undoubtedly the German Eurodance group Snap?
Chatting on the "Team Deakins" podcast, Brolin insisted it wasn’t about the paycheck on offer. "When I said yes to ‘Avengers,’ it was a small thing. It was basically a cameo, so there was not a lot of money involved," he said. "So that wasn’t the reason. But when they came to me, they gave me a big bible. I loved that it was all [of them]. If it had been one of the Avengers — and I don’t mean this, I probably shouldn’t say this but I’m just gonna say it — I probably wouldn’t have done it." Brolin added that the fact that it was just his character against all of the heroes is what made the deal even sweeter. So there’s a hint for any producer trying to cast him in the next superhero film: Make sure it’s a one-off role, or Brolin’s character will be able to battle against everyone all at once.
Josh Brolin thought Deadpool 2 was difficult
Casting Cable in "Deadpool 2" turned out to be almost a bigger story than the actual film. According to The Wrap, Tim Miller departed the director’s chair after numerous clashes with Ryan Reynolds, including the casting of Cable. Miller wanted Kyle Chandler, and Reynolds didn’t. At one point, Brad Pitt’s name was also linked to the part. In the end, Brolin was the actor chosen to play the popular time-traveling mutant.
It also turned out to be a remarkable time for the actor, as he appeared in the two biggest comic book movies of the year in a period that was dubbed the "Summer of Josh Brolin." However, the actor stated playing Cable was tougher than Thanos on the "Team Deakins" podcast. "’Deadpool’ was hard," he said. "Even though it was funny, it was harder. That was more of a business transaction, it was more, ‘We need to make this like this,’ which I didn’t feel that way with ‘Avengers.’"
He thought Outer Range was a tough series to film
Josh Brolin might be known for his work on the big screen, but he’s also electrified streaming television with his performance as Royal Abbott in Amazon Prime Video’s "Outer Range." The sci-fi western holds an 80% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and generated a lot of chatter among its fanbase with its eerie and mysterious episodes. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbow UFOs for Brolin, who revealed the series took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to come to fruition.
In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Brolin said, "We also had a lot of issues during filming. A ton. The setting was really tough, the hours were very tough, and some of the egos and insecurities were very tough. It took much longer than we thought it was going to take, but the reward at the end of the road is the fact that it’s hit a nerve with people." The actor added that he was grateful to Amazon for backing a show that would have made other networks or streamers balk at its strangeness.
He wanted to take a break from acting
Looking at Josh Brolin’s filmography from 2010 to 2022, there’s hardly a gap, with his involvement in multiple big projects at the same time. One has to wonder if he even found a couple of minutes to get in a power nap in between all those productions and endless press tours. According to the actor, he had planned to take a break from acting in 2018, then another project caught his attention and he just couldn’t say no to it.
Appearing on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," Brolin revealed that he had every intention of taking some time away from acting, but he received a call from director Denis Villeneuve about "Dune," and he instantly agreed to take the part in the remake. Not only was it because of his experience working with the filmmaker on the critically acclaimed "Sicario," but also because he had been a huge fan of Frank Herbert’s novel and David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of the story. Brolin confirmed he’s returning for "Dune: Part Two," so his holiday plans might need to be postponed until the next century at the earliest.
Josh Brolin was cut from George Clooney’s Suburbicon
By 2017, Josh Brolin was a bona fide A-lister. He reached the point where he doesn’t call people, they call him. However, showbiz never fails to find an opportunity to humble its performers, proving that fame is more temporary than WWE’s 24/7 champion. Brolin experienced this firsthand when he was cut from George Clooney’s "Suburbicon": a film co-written by the Coen brothers, who directed him in "No Country for Old Men."
Clooney explained the decision to Entertainment Weekly, discussing how it pained him to cut the scenes where Brolin portrayed a baseball coach but it had to be done. "After we did our first screening, the one thing that became really clear to me was that [the scenes] let the air out of the balloon, in terms of the tension in the film," he said. "I had to write him this awful note where I just said, ‘You’re not going to believe it, but these scenes really don’t work anymore.’" Clooney added that Brolin was disappointed and wondered if he’d let the team down with his performance, but the director sent him the scenes to show that they were hilarious but didn’t work in the overall context of the film.
He was close to being the DCEU’s Batman
Film casting is a funny business. Whenever a major superhero part is up for grabs, every actor in Hollywood is linked to the coveted role. In most cases, it’s nothing more than run-of-the-mill gossip, agents creating hype for their clients, and people willing their favorites to get the part. As Zack Snyder began work on "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," he sought out an actor who could portray a grisly, older Dark Knight, and Josh Brolin’s name came up in many reports and dream fan castings.
Eventually, Brolin opened up about almost becoming Batman and revealed that it was true that he met with Warner Bros. and Snyder for the role. Speaking on the "Happy Sad Confused" podcast, the actor explained that it was Snyder who picked Ben Affleck as Batman rather than Brolin turning down the part. "That would have been a fun deal," he said. "And maybe I’ll do it when I’m 80." Well, a "Batman Beyond" movie is bound to happen at some point, so an 80-year-old Brolin could still have his chance at portraying an older Bruce Wayne.
He’s not about to star in rom-coms
From superhero films to crime dramas and epic sci-fi, Josh Brolin is a lot like his "Dune" character Gurney Halleck in the sense that he understands the importance of spice — especially when it comes to his acting roles. He doesn’t want to become typecast by sticking to one genre or because Hollywood believes an actor of his age should be seen in a specific role. In fact, don’t even bring up his age as a reason for a part.
In a conversation with The New York Times, Brolin said that just because he’s over the age of 50, it doesn’t mean that he wants to play the stereotypical role of an older man in a romantic comedy. "I’ve been offered a lot of those parts, and I’m like, no, man," he explained. "Don’t want to do that. It’s not interesting to me." Instead, Brolin wants to take on challenging roles and unexpected parts — even mentioning (to On Demand Entertainment) that he’d love the opportunity to play someone like RuPaul.
He was a volunteer firefighter during The Young Riders
In the 2017 biographical film "Only the Brave," Josh Brolin portrayed a real firefighter named Eric Marsh. The story was based on a GQ article titled "No Exit" by Sean Flynn; however, Brolin didn’t need to dive too deep into what it takes to be a firefighter, since he had experience in the profession from years prior. As it turns out, the actor had kept it on the hush-hush to prevent producers from knowing about his dangerous volunteer work.
"I was a volunteer firefighter back when I was doing ‘The Young Riders’ when I was 20, 21, 22," Brolin told Innovation & Tech Today. "I didn’t tell them because it was totally wrong that I was actually fighting structural fires when I was working on a series. I shouldn’t have been doing it, obviously, but I did it because I felt like it, and I really appreciated my time with those guys." He added that when he read "Only the Brave," he wasn’t over the moon with the script, but he identified with the firefighters, and that’s what drew him to the project.
Josh Brolin admitted The Goonies 2 script exists
One of Josh Brolin’s earlier roles was as Brand in Richard Donner’s "The Goonies." The adventure film became renowned as one of the best kids’ movies of all time and even secured its place in the National Film Registry. For years, fans have wondered if "The Goonies 2" will ever happen, even if decades have passed since the original film was released and the cast is a little greyer around the temples than before.
Brolin revealed to Starpulse in 2010 that he tries to be cautious when discussing the film since anything he says always gets blown up into something bigger in the press. However, he added that a script to the sequel definitely exists. "I saw Steven Spielberg on the street, and I asked for the reality [of it]," he said. "I hear there is a script, yes, but there’s no talk about doing a ‘Goonies’ sequel at this very moment." The only question is, would Brolin be interested in returning as his iconic character if the sequel does get the green light?
He turned down Jurassic World
With so many mega-franchises under his belt, it’s surprising to note that Josh Brolin hasn’t had the opportunity to fight a Tyrannosaurus rex or train a pack of wild velociraptors to do his bidding. Well, it’s his own fault, really, since he was offered the role of Owen Grady in "Jurassic World" and could have had the chance to find out why John Hammond should have been arrested for his harebrained scheme.
Chatting to "Happy Sad Confused" about some of the roles he missed out or passed on, Brolin admitted that he didn’t regret this particular decision. "And ‘Jurassic World,’ with all respect to Steven [Spielberg], I could not picture me doing it," he said. "I could not picture me being that guy. And I’m very, very happy, based on my decision, of what Chris [Pratt] does with it because I think Chris is the right guy." Fair enough, but he did miss out on becoming a meme sensation among the zookeeper community, so it’s his loss.