Josh Brolin is a staple of the comic book movie genre thanks to his roles as Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Cable in “Deadpool 2,” but only one role gave the actor the kind of freedom he craves as a performer. During an interview with James and Roger Deakins on this week’s episode of the “Team Deakins” podcast, Brolin said acting in “Deadpool 2” felt like “more of a business transaction” because his performance had to meet the specific comedic tone of the franchise. Thanos, on the other hand, came with a lot more flexibility and a chance for Brolin to tap into inspired reference points.
“I mentioned Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ this guy who is very elusive and insane but what he is saying makes sense and is poetical,” Brolin said about tackling the Thanos role. “I started seeing the parallel which I liked for me. I loved being able to resort to a film like ‘Apocalypse Now’ when I was doing something like ‘Avengers.'”
The motion capture visual effects needed to play Thanos also appealed to Brolin’s interests, especially because the technology would render his performance into CGI right there on set. As Brolin noted, “The more I watched it, the more I realized this is a real guy. This is not a big purple guy this is a guy with insides and cells and feelings. Then it became fun. To me, it was like going to do 1970s black box theater in New York. You totally resort to your imagination. It is absolutely behavioral, if not more than other movies.”
“‘Deadpool’ was hard,” Brolin continued. “Even though it was funny, it was harder. That was more of a business transaction, it was more, ‘We need to make this like this,’ which I didn’t feel that way with ‘Avengers.’ With those directors, they would constantly go back and reference ‘Scarface’ or ‘Dog Day Afternoon.’ Whether or not it was a manipulation, they knew what to throw out there to bring it back into something inspired.”
Brolin’s time as Thanos is seemingly over as the villain was killed off at the end of “Avengers: Endgame,” but the jury is still out on reprising Cable in a third “Deadpool” movie. The “Deadpool” movies were big hits for Fox, a studio that is now owned by the more family-friendly Disney. Disney has not announced any plans to make a new “Deadpool” movie, although Brolin and his fellow cast members have expressed interest in returning.
Head over to the “Team Deakins” podcast website to listen to Brolin’s full interview.