Josh Brolin on Men in Black III and Oldboy

The man who would be Tommy Lee Jones talks 'iPod Acting,' the Spike Lee remake and why he stands behind Jonah Hex.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


Josh Brolin plays young agent K in Men in Black 3. J (Will Smith) has to travel back in time to prevent an alien from killing K and changing the future. So Brolin got his fast talking monotone on. At the MIB3 press junket we got to join a roundtable with Brolin and ask several specific questions, including what he really thought about Jonah Hex and what’s in store for the U.S. Oldboy remake.


K can say a lot really fast. What were some particularly difficult sections for you?

You know, it’s not that they were difficult because I was listening to it on set and I was being one of those iPod actors. The thing was I was trying to decide when I wanted it to be high Tommy [Lee Jones] lilt and then go down into just kind of generic normal san saba, because if you make a thing out of it, it’s kind of like the makeup. Everybody says, “You did the voice really well but thank God you didn’t have any makeup on.” What are you talking about? I don’t look like that. I had a nose on, I had earlobes on, I had a brow on. So I think it was suggestive of K but when you’re doing the voice you don’t want to exaggerate the whole time because then it’s a caricature. The hope was, I don't know how lame this sounds, but the hope was you watch the movie and within 10 minutes you can get into the story because you’re not watching me showboat Tommy. You just believe that it’s a young K. That was the hope.


[Were] any of the long alien speeches tough to get through?

Which long ones?


I don’t remember specifically.

Yeah, me neither. Sometimes when I’m telling a story or if I’m at the diner telling a story, then it becomes a little more difficult, but you just get a few lilts in there. Honestly, you do it differently every time because Tommy would do it differently every time. Singing “New York” which we did but they didn’t use at the end, I did that which that was kinda heartbreaking. Hence them not using it.


When you take a risk like Jonah Hex which seems like a very cool character, what’s your debrief when it gets the critical drubbing and ends up 75 minutes long?

I think it was 87.


They want to count the credits but it was 75 minutes when they rolled.

Yeah, I think they count the credits. [Laughs] You know, I think that movie became a snowball effect. It got such negative press and because we did so many reshoots, I mean we did a ton of reshoots, man. I’m going to stand behind any movie I do and I like the character. I actually like the character. If I go back and see it now I go, “That’s an interesting character.” It’s not the movie I would’ve made. My intention was to make like a Leone-esque really gritty five to seven million dollar film that I think would’ve been massively profitable. But you don’t have control over these things all the time and to go and present myself as somebody who knows how this movie’s going to be successful [would be inappropriate.] If I were producing it, if I had brought it up – right now we’re doing Hunchback, we’re doing Pitz & Joe. We’re doing other movies that we’re producing and I’m in a position to have a little more control over it. Not that I’m not going to make a bad movie. To me pandering to an audience, you have to have somebody with vision and you stick with that vision. Once you start pandering to audiences too much I think they disrespect.


With Oldboy what’s your take and any concerns you have about that project?

Oldboy? Literally you say Oldboy and my stomach just goes GRRRRRRRR. Oldboy will be an experience, man. It won’t be like Men in Black, I’ll tell you that much. I’m really happy about it. We’ve gotten amazing actors. Liz Olsen who I think is fantastic and we also got Sharlto Copley from District 9 who I think is going to be unbelievable, who just wrote me an e-mail. It was like, “Look, I’ve got to get this out of the way. Dude, Goonies is my favorite film of all time.” Which I thought was really sweet and now I’m going to make 20 years of your life miserable in Oldboy. I love Oldboy and I’m close with Chan-wook Park and I e-mailed him a couple months ago just asking for his blessing to do this movie because if he had said no I wouldn’t have done it. I really respect his movie and we’ll make a little different movie. This whole idea of that more Hollywood version of it, whatever. We’re just going to make a different version but have respect to the initial story and premise. I’m looking forward to it, man. I’m talking about it nervously right now because it makes me nervous. Then will we keep the octopus and will we keep the other stuff? There are some changes and all that but I think it’s really good. It still makes me throw down the script like halfway through. “Whoa!”