When his planned conversation partner, Jeremy Renner, is a last-minute no-show, Josh Brolin decides to flip the Actors on Actors script and plumb his résumé, his love for acting, his insecurities and his ego in a first for this franchise: Actor on Actor. Here, the star of the Amazon Studios-produced sci-fi Western “Outer Range” interrogates his greatest artistic rival: himself. Watch the full conversation above from Variety’s “Actors on Actors,” presented by Apple TV+.
JOSH BROLIN: OK. I’m nervous. I’ve always been a big fan, and you have this new show, “Outer Range.” I saw the first two, and it’s incredible. It makes you just want to aspire to better work. I’m curious why you decided to do a series after 20 years.
JOSH BROLIN: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. I’ve been a big fan of yours, too, but I haven’t seen a lot of your work. I saw “The Goonies” — you were so good in that movie. I did “No Country for Old Men,” which was a big turning point for me. Even though people really associated me with Western work, I hadn’t really done a lot of Westerns. It had been a while. I talked to my agent and I was like, you know, “I would really — I would love to look for something like that.” Have you done a Western? No? They’re a lot of fun to do. If you could just take a breath, that would be great. Just be who you are, which would make me a lot more comfortable in talking about this work, because I’m an actor — I don’t like talking about my work so much. I like just being the work.
BROLIN: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. It’s just that when you respect somebody as much as I respect you. … Do you mind if I look at you in the eye, or do you want me to look down? Well, that’s cool about “Outer Range.” What is it about working as an actor — do you feel like it’s a therapy of sorts or is it the stardom that gets you? Is it the accolades? How do you feel about all that stuff?
BROLIN: Wow. That’s a good question. We say we do it for ourselves, but we really do it for the fans. If it weren’t for the fans, I’d be doing dinner theater in Minnesota, and it’s not that that’s worse acting, but it’s just not something that I’m particularly interested in. What’s fun is being able to be scared by a role, but at the same time, there’s nothing like somebody just sitting there just giving you the goods. Being able to take in people’s love is a big thing for me. And giving is wonderful. But taking is one of the better things in life. And when you give a performance like I gave in this, I wanna give to me, do you know what I mean?
BROLIN: I know your daughter’s an actress and she’s doing amazing on “Yellowstone”: Do you ever feel competitive with your kids?
BROLIN: I do, especially the 1-year-old and the 3-year-old. The fact that my older daughter’s an actress, she’s already out of the house and she’s doing her own thing. But my younger kids are really trying to take the limelight from me right now and it’s tough, you know? I bring them to school, and when I’m walking down the street, when somebody says, “Hey, man, I love your work,” it makes it all worth it for me. But right now, there’s been a lot of, like, “Oh, my God, what a cute little kid,” and I’m like, “Hello?”
BROLIN: To me, the kids came first, you know, and the acting kind of came second. But, you know, I mean, to each his own. You’ve done these serious parts, but when Marvel came along, what was that when they said, “Do you want to play a 700-pound purple guy?” Was that for the kids?
BROLIN: Thanos, Thanos, Thanos. That was a huge undertaking for me. When you have my kind of gravitas, I understand why they would go, “That guy could kind of bring some real weight to the purple dude,” but I didn’t get it at first. I’ve always described it as doing blackbox theater in New York in the ’70s or something. And what a lot of people don’t know is that when they came to me, it was for a cameo, you know? It was just a little thing in “Infinity War,” and I blew everybody away so much that they ended up making two movies out of it. It was a top-notch performance. We were so hoping to get nominated for that, but Marvel stuff doesn’t really get nominated right now. But if they did, I think that we would have. Are you sleeping? Should I wake him up?