×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Playback: Josh Brolin on ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado,’ ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Deadpool 2’

PLAYBACK is a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. New episodes air every Thursday.

Josh Brolin is having quite the moment. With marquee roles as the cosmic supervillain Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War,” time-jumping cyborg soldier Cable in “Deadpool 2” and his first-ever reprise, as deep-state operative Matt Graver in “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” the Summer of Brolin is leaving the Oscar nominee feeling a touch exposed. But it’s the result of a career trajectory that has skyrocketed ever since the turning point of “No Country for Old Men” 11 years ago.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

“This sounds so lame but I’m glad it’s happening now and not [when I was younger],” the 50-year-old star says of his success. “I just wouldn’t have dealt well. There’s a semblance of maturity where I just don’t believe a lot of the bullshit. There’s a nice moment happening right now but do I think it defines me? No. But I’m appreciative of the opportunity that it creates to stretch this out into more parts, colorful parts, more of an opportunity to challenge myself.”

In “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” opening June 29, Brolin got a shot at returning to a role for the first time in his career. He’s starred in sequels in the past, from “Men in Black 3” to “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” to the two superhero hits currently in theaters, but he’s usually dropping into a balance of well-established camaraderie, the new guy in the mix. And movies like “Sicario” don’t often see sequels, so the chance to take another crack at Graver, and to work alongside longtime friend Benicio del Toro again, was a unique joy.

“The problem with doing a sequel sometimes is if the initial movie does well, studios want to copy what you did because they think that’s what people want,” Brolin says. “And yet, times change, and even if you go two years, it’s just a different ambiance out there. I like that they brought in a new director [Stefano Sollima]. I like that Denis [Villeneuve], who wanted to do it, wasn’t able to do it. I like that [cinematographer] Dariusz Wolski did it. I like the change of narrative without Emily [Blunt], even though I love Emily and we miss Emily a lot. So it was really fun, because usually with an isolated experience with an isolated character, you’re still getting to know the character as you’re shooting. Three weeks into it you’re still like, ‘I don’t know who the f— this guy is,’ whereas a second one, you thoroughly know who he is and then you put yourself in a different situation where there’s a little more gravitas, there’s a little more at stake. To me the first movie is more of a subtle thriller, whereas this one, it feels more personal to me. It feels more emotional.”

There’s plenty to talk about with the other projects currently in theaters, so we go long. Regarding “Deadpool 2,” Brolin talks about bulking up for the part and taking it as a challenge that people thought a man his age wouldn’t be able to cut it. And on that note of sometimes needing time to find a character, he says he was still feeling out Cable when the cameras had stopped rolling.

“Going into it I think ‘Deadpool’ was probably the most uncomfortable because it’s a tone of comedy that I just don’t know,” Brolin says. “It’s like doing ‘Saturday Night Live’ for the first time and you’re like, ‘What is this and how do I find myself in this?’ And I only have a little bit [of time] to do it. Did it work? Yeah, it worked fine. But I think we got the relationship [between Deadpool and Cable] when we started marketing the movie. Ryan [Reynolds] and I just kind of found it, and I was like, ‘This is what ‘X-Force’ should be.'”

The Russo brothers’ “Avengers” blockbuster, meanwhile, proved to be one of the most delightful experiences of Brolin’s career. He came into it assuming a much different experience than the creatively enlightening one he got.

“I kind of expected to be surrounded by cameras and they just wanted to see my face move and they were going to humor me by making me say lines and act, but they were really just going to use my movement and draw whatever they wanted and then I’d loop it later,” Brolin admits. “It wasn’t like that at all. It was very practical. When I went in for the first time in mo-cap and I just sat with Joe and Anthony [Russo] and we just talked, it was like Brando talking in ‘Apocalypse Now’ to Coppola, not that I would liken myself to Brando, but you know what I mean. We were just talking about the character and what it is and they were like, ‘Try it. Just improvise something.’ And I’d sit down and give a speech. And, ‘Now talk to a young child. Talk to your 6-year-old about why not to hit another 6-year-old.’ We would just start riffing. It was like going back to Lower East Side black box theater. I was like, ‘This is what I needed right now. I’m getting so involved with the business of things and what’s the distribution,’ and this was like doing away with that. It felt really experimental and inspired.”

The conversation ranges from reflections on Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” (10 years old this year) to thoughts on collaborating with Paul Thomas Anderson on “Inherent Vice” and being gobsmacked by “Phantom Thread.” The latter brings him to actor Daniel Day-Lewis’ (latest) retirement. Brolin empathizes.

“I get the quitting. I understand,” he says. “It’s not even because the business has changed so much or any of that. When you lend yourself to something completely, it’s exhausting. And yet people have this kind of — especially if you’re somewhat successful — they have this idea that everything is perfect. ‘Your life is perfect. You’re driven around in a waxed car all the time.’ And you’re like, ‘No, it’s not.’ And it’s weird when too many people have that perspective because you’re like, ‘Everything is becoming unreal.’ I remember Johnny Depp saying, ‘I’m more comfortable on a set than off a set.’ At that point you go, ‘Ehhhh.’ So I get it.”

For more, including extended thoughts on that feeling of overexposure and a whole lot more, listen to the latest episode of “Playback” via the streaming link above.

iHeartRadio
Hear more episodes of “Playback” at iHeartRadio.
Subscribe via iTunes.

Josh Brolin photographed exclusively for the Variety Playback Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

More Film

  • Best Score Nominee Alexandre Desplat Is

    Best Score Nominee Alexandre Desplat to Skip Oscar Ceremony

    Best score nominee Alexandre Desplat will be unable to attend Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies because of recent throat surgery, a rep for the composer confirms. The French native, already a two-time Oscar winner (for 2014’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” and 2017’s “The Shape of Water”), is nominated this year for his Japanese-flavored score for Wes Anderson’s “Isle [...]

  • Space Jam

    'Space Jam 2' Gets Summer 2021 Release Date

    Warner Bros. has set a July 16, 2021, date for its live-action/animated sports comedy “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James. Terence Nance, creator of the HBO show “Random Acts of Flyness,” is directing the sequel. His credits include “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” “Swimming in Your Skin Again,” and “Univitellin.” The movie marks James’ first [...]

  • Gwendoline Christie Star Wars Episode VIII

    Film News Roundup: Gwendoline Christie Joins Jason Segel-Dakota Johnson Drama 'The Friend'

    In today’s film news roundup, Gwendoline Christie is cast in “The Friend,” film preservationist Kevin Brownlow is honored, Demi Moore’s “Corporate Animals” gets sold, and BondIt Media Capital hires a CFO. CASTINGS “Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” star Gwendoline Christie has joined the cast of “The Friend” starring Jason Segel, Dakota [...]

  • Heather Parry Live Nation

    Heather Parry Fired From Live Nation Productions

    Live Nation Entertainment announced Thursday that Heather Parry will leave the company following a Variety investigation into allegations of workplace bullying. Parry ran Live Nation Productions, the TV and film arm of the touring conglomerate, for three years. In December, Variety reported that Live Nation’s human resources department had been repeatedly warned that Parry was [...]

  • A still from Sea of Shadows

    Sundance Film Review: 'Sea of Shadows'

    It’s a decidedly grim circle of life that moves us all in “Sea of Shadows,” a tight, troubling documentary eco-thriller that charts a compelling course of consequence from Chinese black-market apothecaries to the near-extinction of a rare whale in the Sea of Cortez, hitting on Mexican crime cartels and institutional corruption along the way. Austrian [...]

  • Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie Circle Edgar

    Matt Smith, 'Leave No Trace' Star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie Circle Edgar Wright Movie

    Matt Smith and “Leave No Trace” star Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie are in negotiations to join Edgar Wright’s next film, “Last Night in Soho,” sources tell Variety. Details are vague about the psychological horror movie, other than it being set in London’s Soho district. Anya Taylor Joy is also in the cast. Production is expected to [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content