For years Josh Brolin lived in his father James Brolin’s shadow until 2007 when the Coen brothers cast him in No Country For Old Men.
Ever since, he’s never looked back, and he continues to give commanding performances even in films that don’t measure up to his talent.
Think Milk, W, Hail Caesar!, Only The Brave and Inherent Vice.
And now he’s not in one but two Marvel blockbusters – as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Cable in Deadpool 2.
Brolin, 50, has been married three times. His first wife was actress Alice Adair, his second Diane Lane, and now he’s happily married to someone who is not in his profession.
At his press conference, Brolin is his usual self – congenial, forthcoming and handsome as ever.
No doubt it’s more fun to be Josh Brolin now.
I really am grateful for the opportunities, but once in a while I get a little afraid.
I remember after Avengers: Infinity Wars, came out – it was the first weekend and it was doing so well – breaking those records, and I remember telling myself, “It’s okay to enjoy this, but if people see me in that role, because it’s a CGI role, are they going to react to it as if it’s not me. Could I get stuck in this type of thing?”
But fortunately I have three movies that I really care about, Avengers, Deadpool and Sicario, all coming out this year in which I play three very different characters. So I guess I don’t have anything to worry about.
In those early days when you had a family to support, you weren’t as selective as you are now?
Yeah, with kids to support, I had to put food on the table, but I’ve always been happy to be a working actor.
I’m not bitter about my early career or anything like that. I’m happy with the way that I dealt with it.
There were things I turned down because I didn’t want that legacy, even though I needed the money badly and my agent was going, “Are you nuts, you’ve been slamming us for nine months to get you a job, and then we have you a job, and you don’t want to do it.”
How do you view your career today?
I feel very fortunate because I am one of only a few people who get to do really phenomenal movies with phenomenal directors.
Very few people get to do that and still survive in a system that is, let’s call it a Marvel system, where movies are owned by corporations and not by individuals as they were in the heyday of Hollywood.
The movie industry is not what it once was, so I am very lucky just to be working.
Your mum divorced your dad when you were 16 years old. Although she wasn’t an actress, supposedly she was involved with both Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando? How much of that is true?
My mum was friends with Marlon Brando. There’s a story that when my mother left Texas – my mum was a major character, very funny, extremely loud Texan – she fell under the wing of Clint Eastwood and his wife. It was through Clint that she met Brando.
One day Brando came over. She had invited him for chicken, so he came over to the house. He went into the bedroom, took off his clothes, and said, “Take off your clothes, get into bed, I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be out in 15 minutes.”
(Instead) my mum left him a note and was gone. A year later she invited him again for chicken. He came over, she went into the other room.
When she came back the chicken was gone, and there was a note there saying “Thanks for the chicken, Marlon.” That’s my mum’s relationship with Marlon Brando
How about your dad (who is now married to Barbra Streisand)? Did you two get along growing up?
My father is really famous. He’s done a lot of work, and he’s been around for a long time.
I just took a different road. I went into theatre. My dad wasn’t a big theatre guy. He was a movie guy.
We’re very different; I have short legs, he has long legs. He had it much tougher than I did because he was so handsome. I followed the character route.
In the beginning I ran from that whole idea of being his son. I didn’t want anybody to think any nepotism was going on which made it harder for me but which was great in the long run because it made me work for it.
You married, for the third time, in 2016. How is your new marriage faring?
I am very happy right now. I have a great relationship with my kids (Brolin has two children with his first wife) and I also have an amazing relationship with my best friend, my wife.
I actually like hanging out with my wife. I know not everybody feels that way. When I tell that to someone who is married, they will go, “What? You actually want to be with your wife?” I had some tries, and it’s like baseball, I didn’t completely strike out, but now finally I’ve hit a home run.
You were very young when you first became a father. What are your thoughts on that?
Looking back, it was crazy, I was 19, 20 years old. When I told a friend that I was going to have a baby, he said, “No, no, not you.” He didn’t trust me, didn’t think I would be responsible and all that kind of stuff. But fatherhood was the best thing that ever happened to me.
My kids are 29 and 24 now, and they both do very well and they are both hard workers. My son is an electrician and my daughter is an actress.
Would you like to try again?
If I become a father again now, I know I (would be a good one). I have been a father my whole life. I don’t know what it is like not to be a dad.
I really enjoy being a father, so why wouldn’t I want to do that again?
(On May 29, Brolin and wife Kathryn Boyd announced they are expecting their first child together.)