You know that old saying about someone being a guy you could sit down and have a beer with? Well, Josh Brolin is really that guy. So push back in your seat, order up a cold one, and read about a consummate storyteller who can talk the gamut from riding the range to trading stocks.
Josh Brolin is kicking back on the rooftop of his Santa Monica office overlooking the preternaturally blue Pacific. He apologizes profusely for being a little late for the interview. “I had breakfast with my wife; then my son came along. Because my kids are older, everyone’s going in their different directions, and any moment that I get for cohesiveness I tackle it with both arms and I won’t let go.” His laugh has a throaty man’s-man quality to it. “I’m one of those parents that go, ‘Hey, where’s everybody going? Why don’t you come stick around back here?’ ” The one-time teen punk rocker cracks up at his display of sentimentality.
With an ocean breeze in his hair, and comfortable in Wranglers and a worn T-shirt, the ruggedly handsome actor is allowing himself a few extra smiles these days. Because coming in from the horizon is a nice big wave of hard-earned good fortune. He’s been creating some cachet as both a serious actor and a leading man, although he modestly suggests all he’s hoping to do is “to keep working with great filmmakers and keep stretching what I’m trying to do.”
No Johnny-come-lately, the 42-year-old Brolin has actually been in the business more than 25 years, starting out as a teen star in The Goonies in 1985. He mischievously admits he’s been through “a lot of bruises and lacerations in order to find some decent characterizations.” And it really wasn’t until he teamed up with the eclectic Coen brothers, who cast him as the laconic Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men in 2007, followed by Brolin’s equally remarkable performances in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, in director Stone’s W., and then in Milk opposite Sean Penn that many of us saw what insiders already knew — that this is one fine American actor with a talent to be treasured. But don’t be laying compliments on Brolin, who'd rolly suggests, “Personality-wise, I’m not particularly an interesting guy.”
How’s this for interesting: Beyond getting to work with Oscar-winning filmmakers he calls “the most unpretentious, wonderful, and eccentric people I’ve ever met,” he also happens to be the son of actor James Brolin and stepson to his father’s wife, Barbra Streisand. So he’s part of Hollywood royalty. But on top of that, he’s married to the gorgeous (and fellow Oscar-nominated actor) Diane Lane. He’s also a devoted father of three (Trevor, Eden, and stepdaughter Eleanor). And, he’s a poet who can quote Dylan Thomas with such conviction it will choke you up. So being an actor is just one facet of his life. Not interesting? Hardly. “Okay, you got me. It’s all good right now,” he admits.
One essential thread that underscores Brolin’s career and life is the phrase “doing the work.” For him, there are no shortcuts. While his father, James, worked in Hollywood, his mother, Jane, a Texas country girl and a wild animal activist, raised Josh and younger brother Jess on a Central California horse ranch in Paso Robles, where she had a lot of property to harbor her rescued wild animals.