Josh Brolin covers the September issue of Esquire Mag. He’s 49 years old now, and you can really see him morphing into his father, right? Josh always sort of looked like his dad, but it’s going full-throttle now. Josh is promoting Only the Brave, a film about the true story of the 19 elite firefighters who died trying to put out a blaze in Prescott, Arizona. As it turns out, Josh has spent literally decades hanging out with firefighters, going to AA with firefighters and being a volunteer firefighter. He wanted to make this movie and he helped get it made. Most of the Esquire profile is just about his life though, and man, has he had a crazy life. I have to say this, because it was what I thought of throughout the piece, as I was reading about all of his shenanigans, arrests and confessions of drug and alcohol abuse: he would not have a career right now if he was anyone other than a white dude. Some highlights from Esquire:
He turned down a role in Avatar: Brolin not only tells me about turning down a role in the sequel to Avatar, he also has no problem admitting the decision caused tension between him and the director. “If I don’t want to do Avatar,” he says, “I’m not going to do Avatar. James Cameron’s f–king calling me this name and that name. Whatever. If James Cameron came to me and said, ‘Hey, man, why’d you say that?’ I’d go, ‘Because it happened.’ ”
Spending two decades as a barely-working actor: “Any nightmare that actors have about the worst thing that could happen absolutely happened to me… I was all over the place. Always in the news. I was arrested like nine times. I just had a switch, and you never knew when it was going to go off. It was like a switch of adrenaline when I’d drink. I’d see a building, I didn’t have a choice—I’d just have to climb the building. Or I’d see a guy below the building and I had to jump on the guy. It just happened.”
He’s sober now, and happily married: “I’m having more fun and I’m acting more than I ever have in my life. In the morning, it’s like I’ve taken half a cup of coffee and half a cup of liquid LSD and I’m tripping all day. And then there’s no consequence and I actually get paid for it.”
His life as an in-demand actor now: “When you become successful, you’re like, Well, what role is appropriate for me? And is the director good? And is the writing up to par? And what about the studio? How are they going to market it?” Whereas not all that long ago, he says, “I was like, Who cares? It’s a job. I’ll take it.”
While there’s totally an ass-ton of white dude privilege and toxic masculinity in here, I’ll also say this: Brolin went through his shambolic years before the internet. While there was substantial gossip press in the ‘80s and ‘90s, he wasn’t really a movie star when he f–ked up over and over. He was just James Brolin’s f-ckup son. It’s not like he was Robert Downey Jr., although their stories sound remarkably similar. There’s a reason why Brolin has been allowed to rebrand himself as an A-list actor: because his f–kup years happened before anyone paid attention to him. As for the James Cameron story… it’s funny. I laughed. James Cameron is such a dick.
Photos courtesy of Esquire.