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Josh Brolin

Lead Actor: 'No Country for Old Men'

Josh Brolin may seem to have been the quintessential Hollywood kid — his father is longtime film and TV actor James Brolin, of course — but his mother was from Texas. And mothers-to-be seem to think he’s a pretty convincing Texan.

“She was such a sweet lady,” he says of an eight-months-pregnant Texas journalist who found his accent quite authentic in “No Country for Old Men.” “I said, ‘Well you know, it’s an R movie, your kid doesn’t even belong in the theater.'”

Brolin is a cutup, but he has reason to be glib: Besides having just written and directed a play and a short film that’s pending Sundance approval, he’s in a string of 2007 films that have placed him at the top of the heap of what is, at worst, the steadily employed: “No Country,” “American Gangster” and “In the Valley of Elah” as well as the earlier release “Grindhouse.”

“Personally, I feel the way I always have. The work has always been important,” he says. “Professionally? Yeah, things have been good.”

Quite an understatement, given his position as the lead in what many critics are saying is one of the best films of the year in “No Country,” a pic that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and could certainly gather kudos momentum as the award season rolls along.

Having never worked before with the Coen brothers, he found them quite open to actorly suggestion.

“That said, Tommy (Lee Jones) and Javier (Bardem) and I weren’t really saying, ‘Can we inject this? Can we inject that?’ It only really came up for me … when I found the money,” he says, referring to his character, Llewelyn Moss, a shrewd Southwestern husband who comes upon a satchel full of cash and then has to elude a menacing and dangerous Bardem who’s determined to get it back.

“When Llewelyn finds the money, we talked about this one moment where I keep staring at the dead guy, as if he might give me some advice. And they kept laughing. I said, ‘You got to stop laughing, man, I’m doing my thing, and if you want to use it or not ….’ Then they laughed on the next take. And I said, ‘Well, what can I do?’

“We tried a bunch of different takes and tried a bunch of responses,” he recalls. “It was an absurd moment, at least on the set. But it’s one of those moments that, whenever we watched it, Ethan (Coen) always laughs out loud, which tickles me.”

Brolin still gets amused thinking about the episode, and after “Country,” the solitude of “Elah” and the heavy “American Gangster,” he’ll gladly take all the laughs he can get.

FAST FACTS

Note: Two days after being cast in “No Country for Old Men,” Brolin crashed his motorcycle in Los Angeles and injured his collarbone.

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