'Country' Star Brolin: Offbeat Is Familiar Territory Josh Brolin, who plays laconic Llewelyn Moss in the much-praised new Coen Brothers thriller No Country for Old Men, talks about his appetite for surprising characters and working with the filmmaking brothers.
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'Country' Star Brolin: Offbeat Is Familiar Territory

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'Country' Star Brolin: Offbeat Is Familiar Territory

'Country' Star Brolin: Offbeat Is Familiar Territory

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Hollywood studios have certainly come looking for Josh Brolin. He has been in five films over the last year, and he recently sat down with Michele in our Washington studio.


We're so glad you had come in and talk to us.

Mr. JOSH BROLIN (Actor): Thank you very much.

NORRIS: When you read this book, why were you drawn to Llewelyn Moss instead of Chigurh?

Mr. BROLIN: When I read the book, I didn't read it as a screenplay. Even though it read visually and as very cinematically, I didn't go, oh, I'd love to play Moss. I mean, I didn't think that one time until I read the script, until I heard about that they were casting this thing. But Chigurh was the person that I responded to, for sure, because it's the part.


Mr. BROLIN: it's not even that it's the part. It's just the juicier, more obvious. You wouldn't go, God, I'd love to do a movie where I don't talk the whole time. So for me, it was a great challenge and a lot of fun to be able to explore that kind of, you know, quiet.

NORRIS: You know, when I saw the screening of the film, there was a Q&A afterwards, so I got a chance to see someone else interview you before I sat down…

Mr. BROLIN: Right.

NORRIS: …to talk to you.

Mr. BROLIN: Right.

NORRIS: And I heard you said that working with the Coens was like visiting Mars.

Mr. BROLIN: Yeah.

NORRIS: What did you mean by that?

Mr. BROLIN: The perception of the Coens is such that, you know, they're so corkier. Look at their movies. They're, you know, they're iconoclasts and they do what they want to do, which is all true. But the reality is there's not a lot of talk that goes on in the set. I think all their anxiety goes into who they're going to cast. So once they cast you, they kind of let it go after we've had our initial talks to do what you want to do. But I can't imagine two directors working together without a fight or an argument or at least, can you please let me finish? But it never happened once. They finish each other's sentences. If one has an idea, the other will go, okay, that's great. Let's try that. That's the rarity. That's the Mars part.

NORRIS: This is a very violent film, but not in the sense of a big explosions and chasings…


NORRIS: …But it - there is a certain, sort of, in-your-face quality to the violence. You see things that are very jarring. Through the course of the film…

Mr. BROLIN: Right.

NORRIS: …they almost challenge you to look away.

Mr. BROLIN: Right.

NORRIS: What's it like on the set?

Mr. BROLIN: There's, there's a twofold thing. One, is the violence, you know, to me it's not (unintelligible) as violence. It's not a violence that makes, that numbs you. It's not a violence that empowers you. It's a violence that makes you feel quite ill. At the end of it - and yet, there's not nearly as much violence as you think there is, they kind of one-ended a Hitchcockian realm, where you think there's a lot more violence than there actually is, but it's an emotional violence. Yes, there's blood. Yes, I walk around with blood on me half the movie. But actual violence, there's very little of.

NORRIS: The hunter is hunted.

Mr. BROLIN: The hunter is hunted and all that. But the fact of the matter is, when you're on the set and they're putting the honey and red dye on you, it's kind of silly, you know? After a while, you got to keep it loose and keep your imagination open because to get in to that, you have to remember, okay. This is, this is serious. This is not a joke.

NORRIS: Did you say honey?

Mr. BROLIN: Honey. I don't even know what they use. There was honey, red dye, oatmeal, at one point, some concoction. I have a feeling it'll be on the Food Channel pretty soon.

NORRIS: So what - it seems like you're in a transitional period right now. Five big films…

Mr. BROLIN: Yes.

NORRIS: …a lot of critical acclaim right now. If you're transitioning, what are you transitioning from to? Where are you going?

Mr. BROLIN: I don't know if I'm any different as an actor. I don't know. I mean, the only thing I could say is that I feel a little less worried that I'm going to embarrass myself. I'm kind of willing to put myself out there, stretch myself and work with great filmmakers and not play it safe. I love to do a comedy next. I love to do - I love to play outlandish characters, and I love characters where you think they're one thing one moment and they turn out to be something else.

I did a movie called "Flirting With Disaster," and that guy, you know, he's a normal ATF agent, and he turns out to be bisexual, and then he turns out to have an armpit fetish, he turns out to be tattooed and pierced all over. I love those characters. They're fun, you know? There's billions of characters to play. There are six billion people on this Earth. There's always something different to put into a character. So that's just fun for me.

NORRIS: Josh Brolin, it's been a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks so much for coming in to talk to us.

Mr. BROLIN: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

NORRIS: That was actor Josh Brolin. His latest film is "No Country for Old Men," and it opens today. To see clips from "No Country for Old Men" and hear Josh Brolin tell the story of making his audition tape for the Coen brothers, go to NPR.org/movies.

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