Josh Brolin credits his mid-career turnaround to Robert Rodriguez on “Grindhouse” which led to the Coens and “No Country for Old Men” and “True Grit,” not to mention Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” and Oliver Stone’s “W” and “Wall Street 2” and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.” Brolin is a chiseled American actor who boasts that rare combination: dangerous masculinity and sexy vulnerability. He plays both villains and lovers. See Jason Reitman’s sexy “Labor Day.”
Brolin clearly had a blast working with Paul Thomas Anderson on his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel “Inherent Vice” (December 12) and gets to dig into into one of the more colorful character roles of any year. He tells me, in our video interview below, how “Renaissance detective” Bigfoot Bjornsen comes to sport his dramatic flat top. This is not your usual straight-arrow foil to 70s hippie gumshoe Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix). Doc’s troubled counterpart police detective has a sucking fetish, for one thing, and likes to say with some regret: “sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing.”
In many ways “Inherent Vice” resembles LA noir classic “Chinatown,” as our latter-day pot-steeped Jake Gittes is pulled into an ever-deepening mystery over which he cannot wrestle any control. He’s knocked out and implicated in a murder, there’s a missing femme fatale with a romantic-sexual hold over him (see Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn Mulwray), a corrupt and powerful magnate who is overhauling California real estate (see John Huston’s Noah Cross), a long-suffering office receptionist, and Brolin’s sympathetic but ineffective city detective (see Perry Lopez’s Lieutenant Lou Escobar).
While some in PTA’s sprawling ensemble have described his set as “chaotic,” Brolin says he had enough screen time to talk his character through with Anderson. See our video below, in which he also talks about his upcoming film with Denis Villeneuve, “Sicario,” and the Coens’ “Hail Caesar!,” next up.