Josh Brolin is going from playing the ultimate Hollywood problem-solver to the ultimate Marvel crisis creator.
The Coen Brothers' latest film, "Hail Caesar!" (available now on Blu-ray), starred Brolin as a studio fixer working at the height of Hollywood's Golden Age. As challenging as keeping the Hollywood elite out of trouble may be, it's nothing compared to finally fulfilling the promise of his previous cameos as Thanos, the Mad Titan, the central villain of Marvel Studios' forthcoming "Avengers: Infinity War" films directed by Joe & Anthony Russo.
Speaking with CBR News while promoting "Hail Caesar!", Brolin revealed why even hindsight wouldn't prevent him from taking on DC's "Jonah Hex", the mindset it takes to play a supervillain and what has him so excited about menacing Marvel' Avengers.
CBR News: Hollywood is always changing, but as "Hail Caesar!" illustrates, there are some elements that remain steadfast. What were the things that struck you as you were making this movie that made it all feel like nothing had changed?
Josh Brolin: It's all manipulation. I mean, like even me. I was on the phone yesterday and I was talking about an actress doing this next movie with us. What she likes, and she appreciates that there's a woman producer on this movie. That definitely parallels with what's going on with Hillary [Clinton] right now, and that's a major theme. It's always been a major theme, but it's even more of a theme at this point. You're sitting there and you're going absolutely the morals of it are in place, but at the same time, you're trying to just get somebody to do a job, for as cheaply as you can get them for. That's a good producer, and I get it.
So the amount of manipulation that goes on -- and I'm surprised because I'm not really involved in this. I see it a lot of like, "Oh my God, you're the greatest, you're so good, we're just so happy to have you." Then you start to think, "Is there anybody you don't say that to?" So that was definitely going on back then and it still goes on now.
But much of the compliments are genuine, in your case.
People say, "I like your resume, I like what you've chosen." I always appreciate that. I would still do "Jonah Hex" again. I don't like the way it turned out at all, but I do think that there's a good movie there. I think my intention was right. You're never going to be perfect, man. You just do your best.
You're about the embark on your full Thanos adventure with Marvel. By now, I assume you've been filled in on the arc of what your character's going to do and you've seen what the Russos have done with "Civil War."
Both, yes. Correct.
You've had some amazing film experiences. This is going to be a singular one that you're going to be talking about, most likely, to the end of your days. So tell me, where are you now as far as your anticipation, your excitement, for the whole thing, and to go fully into character rather than these cameos that you've done?
I'm very happy. I'm very excited that I'm doing it, and I'm not just saying that. I'm actually -- I think it was a very good decision on my part. I know that I've shied away from bigger-type movies, a few of them. Even though there was a lot of money involved and all that, nah. I don't see myself in that. I don't really want to go in that direction right now.
Whereas when this came along, I said, "Absolutely." There's just something I love about what they're doing, and I'm really, really pleased that I get to play this part. The last thing, I talked to [Mark] Ruffalo. Ruffalo's been a friend for a long time, and I just said, what do I have to look forward to? And he said, man, the first time I did, the first movie as Hulk, was really embarrassing because I'm out there and I'm like on cinder blocks and shit trying to act out this stuff for other people. And then I saw the movie, and he says, I'm so blown away that I couldn't actually wait to get back there and to do all that stuff again that I found embarrassing in the beginning. He says, "You're going to have a blast. You're just going to have a blast."
That leads nicely to my next question, about the style of acting that you're going to do, a performance capture kind of thing, are you really like getting in shape to do that, mentally? To be able to use your imagination and be in the room with a bunch of guys turning you into computer code?
Yeah, because that's it anyway: it's your imagination. When I'm on a set, there's such a balance between, are you method-ly doing your research and getting into it and all that? And I said, yeah, but there's so much imagination involved anyway. I think the difference with this, and I'm glad that I've had a couple of experiences going in front of 36 cameras and doing mo-cap and all that, it was really unnerving for me in the beginning.
So I've had those few experiences, I know what to expect a little bit more. Then, you just come in prepared, and you come in like anything else. You come in as, just the whole idea of coming in as Thanos, period -- sitting down and saying, "What do you want me to do?" I'm ready. It's fun. The thought of it is fun. It makes me nervous, but it's fun.
Have you found a certain thing about that character that you're especially excited to play with? Either in your research or just what you know of him? Is there a take or an angle that you're excited about?
Yeah: where's the humanity? There's parts of him that are unfounded to me, which will be found. That's all I'll say.
"Hail Caesar!" is on Blu-ray now; Brolin returns as Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1" on May 4, 2018.