Charming and unpredictable, Josh Brolin’s talent was first showcased in the 1995 hit movie Goonies. He showed his refined abilities in 2007’s No Country for Old Men. Those results earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and pushed him in to the limelight. He comes from good acting genes.
Brolin was in Phoenix to promote his new movie, “Only the Brave,” which is based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighter unit based in Prescott, Arizona. He plays the role of Eric Marsh, the leader of the Hotshots, who on the day of the tragedy had become a supervisor of operations for the Yarnelle Hill blaze.
Latinaology- Josh, I hear you are extremely unpredictable and that is what makes you so watchable. Did you always wanted to be an actor?
Brolin– “No, No, I still don’t know if I want to be an actor or not”
Latinaology- What do you want to be when you grow up?
Brolin– “I don’t know if I ever will grow up, first of all. Second, to me acting is kind of a pain in the ass, it’s unnatural and humiliating and embarrassing. I think once in a while you manifest something that you are really proud of, that’s flawed enough so people can identify with it. Movies like this, and what they represent, what they mean to me personally, afterwards can make you feel like you have done it justice. That feels good. I’ve done enough movies were I’ve watched it afterwards and I feel like what just happened? What did we do? So in all honesty, I choose a profession that is very elusive where perfection is not a possibility and you’re always off camber, but I like that feeling. I think I chose the right profession where I can dive in to another profession, whether it is firefighting or another type of story, and really immerse myself into it and I like it. I choose well, and end up being a jack of all trades, and master of none.
Latinaology- You spent time in Arizona as a firefighter. Do you consider yourself in the same league as Dennis Leary or Steve Buscemi, who really were firefighters and actors?
Brolin –“No, because that’s putting a firefighter first and here I am not a firefighter. I’m an actor, period. That’s what I do. But I’ve been involved in firefighting and I’ve been around the community for 30 years. I have a lot of respect and had a lot of fun with the firefighting community. One of my best friends is an Incident Commander now, so I’ve been around it for a long time. But Dennis Leary, who did see the film, said he wouldn’t change a frame of it and I’m glad. I’m glad we got his approval and that of other firefighters outside of Prescott. That was really important to us because it was very personal to them. But I think the firefighting community, as a whole, has embraced it. At least those who have seen the movie. It makes me very happy. It’s a satisfying experience.”
Latinaology- Your character Erick Marsh is a tough guy who has spent a good deal of his life trying to defeat his demons. Do you think there is a parallel between his character and you?
Brolin- Yes, hugely. My life has changed completely. He was sober and I’m sober. I would not say I personally identify but objectively I do. People who knew Eric have shared some similarities with me, but we are not the same person, obviously. Yes, I have fought demons my whole life, I’m at the best place I have ever been, at almost 50 years old, and I actually like it. And this the happiest I have ever been for sure.
Latinaology- What I took from Only the Brave is that the story is one of second chances. Eric Marsh sees the potential in Brendan McDonough “Donut” (played by Miles Teller) and gives him a second chance.
Brolin- “I’ve been in that position, of giving people a second chance, as well as having been given a second chance, too. You don’t want to help someone who is running away. The fact that Brendan McDonough “Donut” walked into that office, obviously seeking to change, well, those are the people you want to help. You see someone who takes that initial leap to change themselves. And it’s not about changing yourself but accepting your demons and saying okay they exist and I have to keep conscious of that. But every day, I try to do something selfless. Instead of me, me, me, I try to do something for someone else. Firefighting, and First responders, the nature of those professions are as selfless as you can be. I think it’s interesting that he choose that. I know “Donut” very well. He’s a good dude, and I have lots of respect for that guy and what he has done to tackle the demons that still exist, in him. As they still do in me.
Latinaology – There is a pivotal moment in the movie where you are standing on top of a hill overlooking the fire and you have to make the decision to go to the safety zone and leave the black (an area that is already burned) what do you think your character was thinking at that time?
Brolin- “You’re making a decision based on what you are seeing, your experience with a change of humidity, what is the dryness at that moment, where the winds are and if the they are going to change, what clouds are forming or not. You are dealing with an unpredictable entity that is so massive that you can’t control it. It’s not like being an architect at a drafting board saying we will do this roof at this height, at this pitch, because this will be safer. Fire is so unpredictable and I don’t think he put himself or his crew in that position purposefully. If he would have left five minutes before, maybe they would have made it to the ranch. Why did they leave the black? With the fire moving away from them, and towards the town, they probably wanted to put themselves in a position to protect the town, which makes perfect sense to me. Tragedies happen all the time. You don’t want them to but they do happen. That’s why they are tragedies. What is the most important part in this movie is honoring these 19 guys who lost their lives, and the single survivor and what he and the families now have to deal with. We are trying to bring an awareness to be conscious of these people who put their lives in peril and incredible danger in order to assure your safety. I just hope the public doesn’t forget.”
Latinaology- Another scene that caught my attention was where firefighters are just shirtless, lifting weights, eating all day, and waiting for some action. Is this what really happens at the fire station?
Brolin – ” Laughs, Absolutely it’s true! Unless you have been eating a lot of fire house tacos. You know what’s funny? We were in such good shape during this movie! I see guys right now who are not in their best shape with their arms looking so deflated now and reminiscing of what they looked like when we were filming. I’m lucky I get to keep my shape as I have another movie that I have to do. I got lucky and don’t feel the same amount of pressure they do. But yes, there is some vanity involved and competition, for sure. In a misfit sort of way.”
Josh Brolin stars in Only the Brave, coming to theatres October 20th.
Until next time,