Third time lucky
“I was Sean’s suggestion for Milk because Matt Damon had some scheduling problems and couldn’t do it,” shrugs Brolin modestly. “We just got along right away.”
It’s an intense movie about intense people. Did the shoot feel like heavy weather? “No. We get into it for sure, when it comes right down to it. But the only guy I know that doesn’t go home at the end of the day is Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s extraordinarily disciplined. And he’s just the nicest guy too.”
Brolin is commendably complimentary about most of his fellow professionals. Sean Penn is “sweet”. Michael Fassbender is “a great buddy”. MIB3 co-star Will Smith is a phenomenon: “When he rapped he won the first-ever Grammy for rapping. When he started on TV in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air it was the biggest show of the day. He starts in movies with great reviews for Six Degrees of Separation and then the biggest grossing movie of all time.”
The movie stars Brolin is usually lumped in with include John Wayne, Gary Cooper and, unsurprisingly, Tommy Lee Jones. Why do people see him as a continuation of the old, old school? “I have no idea,” he shrugs. “It’s way too subjective a thing for me to understand. Is it an alpha thing maybe? Or an Americana thing? They didn’t used to mention those names. They’ve only started saying them since I started appearing in movies that are actually seen.”
One wonders why Oliver Stone choose such a nice guy to play George W Bush in the criminally underrated W. One wonders too why Stone insisted there were similarities between Brolin and the former commander-in-chief. “Was it flattering? No. I don’t think he meant it literally. At least I hope not,” says Brolin.
“I guess I’m a ‘call a spade a spade’ kind of guy. And I think Oliver meant it that way. George Bush figured out the most brilliant thing: how to exploit the bucolic side of himself. The quote I heard over and over and over again was I could imagine having a beer with that guy.”
Was he disappointed by the film’s performance? “The timing was a problem. But for me, well I got to work with Oliver Stone and I got to play a guy from like aged 21 to 59. It was an incredible challenge.
“This was definitely the best version to do. If I wanted an Iron Fist version I could have watched CNN. And it’s the film people ask me about the most now.”
And both he and Bush are in ranching.
“Now see here. When you grow up with 65 horses to take care of you don’t say ‘in ranching’. That just makes you sound like an urbanite.” In equestrianism then . . .
“You just said that one on purpose. I ride horses. That what you mean?”