Brolin along

Note that this conversation took place before the World Series and so Brolin was not entirely stating the obvious when he made the prognostication toward the end. Since things took a fairly chatty, friendly turn I regret not asking him more provocative questions such as what it was like to see his then girlfriend Minnie Driver take up with Harrison Ford on the rebound after their break-up some years back. But why push my luck?

PK: You studied method acting. This seems like a role that you can adapt that that methods to..

JB: Yeah, I mean I studied method and all that kind of stuff. But I don’t know. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where you know, you try a lot of different things on because of insecurity or a lack of confidence or a lack of understanding, and a lack of confidence in the process.  But you know now I don’t know if it’s because I got to a place in my life where I go, I don’t mind humiliating myself and I don’t mind embarrassing myself on set in order to find the right tone or the right character trait or whatever. It’s to stay open- that’s the most important thing for me it to stay open and to really listen to people and to be able to be open rather than to stay in my own process. I’m going to pick up my coffee and look at it and see if there are any chunks of cream that have gone bad and do all this stuff. If that’s what happens, then that’s great. If it’s a thought out process thing instead of a spontaneous thing, I find it to be a little masturbatory, but that’s just me. So that’s why I loved working with Javier so much because he’s very much the same way and he’s a brilliant actor. And you know, we just like keeping it going, using the imagination. We just like to keep the imagination acute so there’s a lot of fucking around on the set and then when we have to do what we have to do I think we’re very focused. We do it. We’re completely open when we’re doing it, and I think that’s why his character didn’t turn out to be very silly because I think it could have.

PK: Despite the hair cut.

JB: Despite the hair cut, despite the eyes, despite everything. It turned out to be chilling. And then my character- he doesn’t say but fifty words. That’s not an easy thing for any actor to do, especially when acting revolves around movies and all that- dialogue and theater. You suddenly take away the one crutch that you have to be able to distract the audience to how you’re really feeling. Or lend to how you’re really feeling. And suddenly it’s all about something else- you know, body language, and inhales and grunts.

PK: You don’t have any scenes together, though. You’re on the phone together, but that’s about it.

JB: Yeah, that’s right--we just shoot at each other. Javier did a fun thing because he had to leave because he was doing “Love in the Time of Cholera” so he left a little bit early, so I was doing the scene with him on the phone and they had left an earpiece with a recording and they said “Here, use the earpiece,” and I said I don’t want to use the earpiece, I’d rather have someone else do it, like the script supervisor or something. I said I could hear Javier in my head so it’s ok, so we did it a few times and the Coens were like “You should really use the earpiece,” but it was just distracting for me. Finally, the last take we did, I finally used the earpiece and Javier’s voice is in there and he says, “Do you know where I am?” and I said, “I know where you are.” Then he answers “I’m in the south of Spain, on the beach--having the greatest time with the naked women.” Suddenly I got all confused because I was totally into the scene and I looked back at Ethan and he had a huge smile on his face. I thought, “Fuck you guys, you nailed me.” It was fun.

PK: I heard that as directors they don’t offer a lot of direction.

JB: No, they were extremely supportive. They offer what’s needed and not anything beyond that. They don’t offer a lot of that padding of the ego or that kind of stuff, you know. There’s not a lot of praise where it’s not needed, which is a great thing, because it was all about the work. And then Javier and I could have fun when we wanted to have fun, and we could have fun with the Coens and the Coens were actually a ton of fun. But it was more about, let’s just do the work.

PK: More fun than Tommy Lee Jones?

JB: Tommy was great, actually. I love Tommy. I can’t imagine he’s the greatest to reporters, but I’ve gotten to know Tommy well--especially after the movie. but you’ve got to know that kind of character, though.

PK: You weren’t in any scenes with him?

JB: No, I wasn’t in any scenes with him. Tommy’s a good man. Tommy’s just funny. I don’t know what he does, he’s just authentic

PK: Hell is being in an elevator with a tape recorder and Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford.

JB: Just silence. Total silence.

PK: Just glares of contempt. Heavy sighs.

The Coen brothers make a very interesting stylistic choice here; they show most of the violence offscreen. You just came from “Grindhouse” where the violence is so in-your-face.

JB: Yeah, but it’s so gratuitous it’s so ridiculous in “Grindhouse.” And that was the point; it’s an homage to that kind of ridiculous Bozo the clown violence.

PK: These are two different approaches.

JB: Totally, this is much more Hitckockian. You look back and you think you’ve seen something with so much violence than you actually are. You know, but the violence is unnerving and painful and awful; it’s not empowering in any way, at least it wasn’t for me just watching the movie as a film buff. Javier and I were sitting next to each other watching the film for the first time, it was like...

PK: Some of the key confrontational moments are offscreen. Does that bug you a little bit?

JB: Oh, you mean [omitted to avoid spoiler] …this is not on the radio, right?

PK: No. I can avoid mentioning it in the article.

JB: Well, that’s the way it happens. I think people want to be given the opportunity to be manipulated into a place of death in film. Being about to grieve and say goodbye and experience the death because we’ve gotten so used to movies like “Saw” -- I don’t know what it is. I think that’s why this is unique, because it happens like it really happens. My mother hit a tree; she was just dead. One moment I was just talking to her and the next minute I could never talk to her again. So when I look at that, I go, that’s an homage to me and reality, which I think was very loyal to Cormac’s book because that’s the way it is in the book; that’s the way it is in life. Sometimes we’re given the opportunity to say goodbye, there’s maybe a death by disease, but in my experience I have never seen that in film, where it just happens. You know, the minute where there’s hope and you think [omitted to avoid spoiler]. That’s it--everything changes.

PK: You write yourself don’t you? Didn’t you write stories and poems? Do you want to go into writing and directing films?

JB: I just directed a short film that I wrote. And there was another short that I had written with Robert Rodriguez that we didn’t do because I was got frustrated; it was too complictated for my first thing. So I wrote a short. I had some of my friends do it and it was great. 26 set-ups in three days and now it’s in the festivals and doing all of that. 

PK: What’s it called?

JB: “X.” Just “X.” And, um, I have a theater company in L.A.for which I wrote wrote, directed and produced a play. It was three hours long and it was sold out every night. We did very well with that. We’re almost finishing this play called “Pig’s Nest” [?] that will start in January. Um, I’m adapting a play that I did 15 years ago into a film right now. So there’s a lot of stuff. 

PK: And then the acting, you know.

JB: Yeah, I just like stories. I love storytelling. Yeah, the acting will continue because it pays my bills. The other stuff sort of siphons my bank account.

PK: Any more projects? Spielberg?

JB: No. There was a movie he was producing that they offered me, no… Scorsese is doing this thing called “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which I think is an amazing book about Jordan Belfort. I don’t know what part would be in there because I know Leo is going to be playing Belford. I just like the story. I would love to be in it.

PK: What are you reading now?

JB: Right now I’m reading CK Williams--a book called “Misgivings.”

PK: Red Sox, Rockies?

JB: Sox.

PK: Colts, Patriots

JB: I just don’t know.



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