In addition to tackling the daunting roles of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 'W,' and Supervisor Dan White in 'Milk,' he secured star status with the lead role in the Coen Brothers' critically acclaimed 'No Country For Old Men.'
After playing such heavyweight characters, we can't blame the guy for seeking out something a little more tongue-in-(scarred)-cheek -- and no character fits that description quite like 'Jonah Hex,' the titular antihero in Warner Bros.' latest comic book adaptation. Though Josh Brolin has been acting since the '80s ('Goonies,' anyone?), it's only in the past couple of years that the talented Angeleno has gained attention for his multilayered, often villainous, performances.
In addition to tackling the daunting roles of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 'W,' and Supervisor Dan White in 'Milk,' he secured star status with the lead role in the Coen Brothers' critically acclaimed 'No Country For Old Men.' After playing such heavyweight characters, we can't blame the guy for seeking out something a little more tongue-in-(scarred)-cheek -- and that's as the antihero 'Jonah Hex' in Warner Bros.' latest comic book adaptation.
"The first time I read the script, I thought, 'that's absurd'," Brolin told Moviefone in an exclusive interview. "And that word started to become very appealing to me ... I had never really done anything like this, and I liked the fact that there was the opportunity to relive the types of movies that I loved, like those of Charles Bronson and Robert Mitchum," he explained. "I don't know if it works or not -- but the movie is supposed to be phantasmagorical in every way, it's supposed to be a fun little series of vignettes which are all connected by the revenge tale, and it should be colorful."
Based on the iconic DC comic of the same name, 'Jonah Hex' sees Brolin as a hardened bounty hunter who is enlisted by Pres. Grant (Aidan Quinn) to prevent one of the country's first terrorists, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) from decimating America on the eve of its 100th birthday. Throw in a little personal vendetta between Hex and Turnbull for killing each other's loved ones, and you've got yourself a rip-roarin' revenge story with a Western flavor -- on paper, at least.
"It was interesting to try and create a genre that didn't really exist, because it was a marriage of a lot of different things: You have your action, your supernatural, you have the Western element, the modern element, you have this turn of the century element," Brolin mused. "We were getting into territory that we didn't have a model for, which is both very risky and at the same time exciting, because you don't know how it's going to be received."
Brolin's experience on set included filming grueling fight sequences that resulted in his long-suffering stunt double sustaining multiple concussions. "It's an intense film; I did a lot of my own stuff and I got hurt quite a few times, and it took about six to eight months to heal up back to normal, because of the jammed fingers and all that during the fight sequences," he revealed. "But, now we're on the other side, so that's good. Makes me smile talking about it as opposed to making me cringe."
Another cringe-worthy aspect of production was the impressive make-up that Brolin had to don in order to recreate Hex's scarred visage. "To put it as primitively as possible, it was a pain in the ass," he laughed wryly. "Three hours to put on every day, 35 minutes to take off. I'm very happy with the result, but I think that the scowl wasn't anything I had to act!"
All that scowling and scarring went a long way to creating the damaged yet noble character that comic fans have come to love since Hex's inception in 1971, though Brolin shies away from classifying the outlaw as an anti-hero. "Antihero means anyone who's not Tom Hanks!" he observed. "There's a gruffness to him, there's a darkness to him that he has to springboard from in order to do something heroic. He's not perfect, he's not James Bond ..." Brolin paused to chuckle. "Or maybe he is and he just manifests it completely differently. He's a dirty James Bond."
And the girl playing Pussy Galore to Brolin's "dirty James Bond" is none other than Megan Fox, someone who has had her own share of difficulty staying squeaky clean in the eyes of the press of late.
"I thought she was wonderful, I don't read any of the press about her," Brolin admitted. "I did in the beginning because I was interested in her doing this, so I needed to get educated, and I loved what she said in the press. I thought she was appropriately rebellious given that she had so much fame so fast, and I'm just glad that she's not one of these people who's falling-down drunk. I would much rather see her get the backlash that she's getting for being a fairly solid, sometimes inappropriate person," he laughed.
He was also impressed with Fox's ability to gamely volley with a screen icon like John Malkovich, whom Brolin admits he is "in love with."
"I adore that guy and everything he does personally and professionally," he gusheed, not an ounce of insincerity in his voice. "I think he's an amazing, amazing guy, the most gracious human being I know, him and Javier Bardem."
And it's just as well that there's such admiration between the two, considering just how damaging the 'Jonah Hex' production turned out to be.
"I actually broke his finger," Brolin sheepishly revealed. "[We were shooting] the clay fight sequence and he came over and he asked me very politely, 'Um, Josh, will you please pull my finger?' And I thought it was a joke, so I pulled his finger and I heard this click, and I was like 'what was that?' and he goes, 'Um, I think you broke my finger -- anyway, I'll be fine, thank you,' and then he walked away. I was like, "Oh my god, that was the strangest, most eccentric moment I've ever experienced in my life'."
As for whether the movie will see success and spawn an inevitable slew of sequels (and Brolin is just so charming that we kind of hope it does, despite how terrible it is), the actor didn't dare to hazard a guess. "I remember when we were doing 'No Country' Ethan [Coen] said to me, nobody's ever gonna see this movie," he reminisced. "So we were all very surprised. You just never know ... "
[Follow Laura on Twitter @LauinLA.]