From The Goonies to Sicario to Infinity War and Endgame, Josh Brolin’s career is nearly as old and multifaceted as he is. He may be best known for playing Thanos, but Brolin will likely play some more memorable roles before his time in Hollywood is over. Read on 42 snapping facts about the man behind the gauntlet.
1. Duck Sauce
Josh Brolin is Barbara Streisand’s son-in-law, or as Brolin puts it: Streisand is his “dad’s chick.” Over 20 years ago, Brolin’s dad, actor James Brolin, was set up with Streisand at a party. Streisand expected Brolin to have a beard, so she asked the clean-shaven James, “Who screwed up your hair?” According to her, Brolin fell in love at that moment and the two have been together since.
2. Beach Boys
Brolin was raised in California and recalls being part of a group known as the Cito Rats. Brolin says the group was composed of “children of rich, neglectful parents or children of poor, neglectful parents.” While Brolin doesn’t consider Cito Rats a gang per se, he does recall stealing cars in order to pay for a drug habit while he was with the group.
Brolin also ended up in jail at one point after a fight with police.
3. Points for Originality
In 2018, Brolin sold a show to Hulu entitled The Untitled Josh Brolin Project. No, the title isn’t a placeholder. The story follows a (presumably) fictional version of Brolin, who leaves Hollywood, goes on an ayahuasca trip and becomes a self-help guru. Sounds bingeworthy.
4. Constructive Criticism
Brolin views 1988 as his favorite year, since it marked the birth of his first child, and it was also the year that he started doing theatre. Until that point, Brolin believed his career was in a rut. He got typecast as a jock, and an exec at Miramax told him that he (and Benicio Del Toro) were the worst auditioners she’d ever seen.
5. Wolf of Wall Street
Brolin quit acting for a three-year period in his 20s, pursuing stock trading instead. Brolin found that he could read the charts well—though he would remark that what he was really good at reading was “people reacting. Fear and greed.” Stock trading proved pretty lucrative, according to Brolin, but he didn’t give details on how much moolah he made. Brolin also co-founded the (now defunct) website Marketprobability.com, which gave users a 25-year breakdown on market trends.
When the site was still up back in 2007, Brolin said he made more from the site than his movies.
6. Turning Point
Brolin’s screen career picked up when he was cast in director David O Russell’s 1996 film Flirting with Disaster. Brolin played a bisexual ATF agent, and the film stands out for a scene where he improvised licking Patricia Arquette’s armpit.
7. Learning from Mistakes
While Brolin may be regarded as a revered actor nowadays, he credits his status to “a lot of really, really bad acting.” Each terrible performance from his youth was a learning experience and Brolin admits that some bad acting crops up every now and then, and that he’s still learning to be a more natural actor with every movie he works on.
8. Congo Line
Some actors view press junkets (typically consisting of multiple interviews) as being the worst part of the job, but Brolin believes they’re interesting. While he admits discussing himself for hours on end can get tiresome, he likes the self-reflection that results from the interviews—when he reviews the answers he gave and wonders how many were true.
Kind of like any job interview, then.
9. It’s in the Name
Brolin got in trouble for revealing spoilers about 2020’s Dune. Anyone who has heard of the book or film knows that most of the action takes place on a desert planet, but apparently Dune PR execs didn’t take kindly to Brolin posting photos of sand in Jordan. He was advised not to post anymore…so he responded by posting more.
Nobody puts Brolin in a corner.
10. High Horse
Brolin was previously asked to join other big-budget sci-fi films, like the role of Marcus in Terminator Salvation, but turned them down at the time due to the stigma of big action roles. Brolin is thankful that he was still around for the paradigm shift, partly ushered in by the success of comic book films. He credits the reduced stigma about comic book films, and his interest in the roles, to his decision to join Deadpool 2 and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
11. Ugly Duckling
Despite the gruff voice and physique that Brolin is known for now, he admits to being a geek in high school. The look was complete with braces and an awkward stockiness that kept him out of sports. However, Brolin would get his first film role during high school: The Goonies.
12. Bon Appetit
Brolin aspired to be a chef when he was younger and still embraces his love of cooking. While on the set of 2013’s Labor Day, he and some castmates worked on their own chili recipe. The dish is called “Convict Chilli,” as a reference to Brolin’s character. The full recipe is available online so that you can cook like an escaped convict.
13. Top Gun
Brolin’s main hobbies are surfing and racing cars. The need for speed led to a motorcycle accident two weeks before No Country for Old Men (2007) began filming. Brolin shattered his collarbone but still showed up to filming on time.
14. The Dark Knight
If you didn’t like Batfleck, you might be gutted to know that Josh Brolin could have played the Caped Crusader. Brolin was in early talks with director Zack Snyder about the role, but the talks fell through when Snyder decided Brolin wasn’t fit for the part. If Brolin had gotten the part, he would have had to juggle it with his role as Thanos, which was locked in from 2012, and likely wouldn’t have been able to play Cable in Deadpool 2.
Looking back, Brolin is “really glad” things didn’t work out.
15. Green and Purple
When asked whether he preferred playing Cable or Thanos, Brolin picked the purple titan. Originally, Brolin was hesitant about the role of Thanos due to the motion capture needed for the part. He worried he would end up playing a prop on screen, but it was Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk) who advised him that mo-cap technology will make the character come alive on screen. Ruffalo was right and Brolin was blown away by the finished product, watching “every twitch, every blink” of his character.
While Brolin prefers playing Thanos, he also acknowledges Cable was a more physically demanding role. While motion capture hides extra weight, Cable required a ripped physique, complete with a topless scene. To get there, Brolin cut out sugar, bread, and pasta. Working with trainer Justin Lovato, Brolin worked out five to six days a week, for three hours at a time, for eleven weeks. The workouts incorporated mobility drills as well as weightlifting. Brolin’s new physique even led Dave Bautista (Drax) to compliment him when they ran into each other at Gold’s Gym in LA.
17. The Iron Throne
Brolin is enjoying working on Dune since it reunites him with Javier Bardem from No Country for Old Men and director Denis Villeneuve from Sicario. Brolin also adds that Jason Momoa’s involvement gives him more confidence, since he views Momoa as a rising star whose name adds more value to any production. Brolin’s wife is also a big fan of Momoa, remarking that Momoa “is a god.” And he doesn’t even need any Infinite Stones to manage it.
18. Not Quite Ike Turner
Prior to splitting from Diane Lane in 2014, Brolin was arrested for domestic battery in 2004. Lane called the police, saying Brolin hit her. Lane later refused to press charges and the couple has not revealed exactly what happened that night. Brolin remarked that the arrest was the moment where he has been most careful with his words, and he respects Lane’s decision not to speak any further about the matter.
19. The Tables Have Turned
Johnny Depp and Brolin both auditioned for the lead role in 21 Jump Street. They were both sitting in Depp’s apartment awaiting the call from the casting execs. The call eventually came in, and while Depp packed his bags and headed out for stardom, Brolin was stuck with a guest appearance on the show. That must have been awkward.
20. Fool Me Once…
While 2008’s W was a box office flop, Brolin’s performance was admired and the role arguably helped him to maintain some momentum after his turn in No Country for Old Men. Additionally, Brolin was a huge fan of director Oliver Stone and had dreamed of working with Stone since he saw Salvador (1986). Brolin also loved the script, especially because it didn’t shy away from taking a critical look at its namesake.
21. Backpacking Disaster
After getting his role in The Goonies, Brolin spent six months in Europe. Details are sparse, but Brolin’s Eurotrip wasn’t the ideal vacation: At one point he got mugged on a train and ended up in a hospital in Italy.
22. An Offer You Can’t Refuse
Brolin was initially rejected for the role of Llewyn Moss in No Country for Old Men (2007). The Coen brothers passed on his audition, but granted him a “courtesy meeting.” It was this subsequent meeting that led to Brolin getting the part.
23. What the Future Holds
Brolin’s contract with the MCU was on a per-film basis, meaning he was never tied to a certain amount of films. With Avengers: Endgame now released, it seems logical that Brolin is done with the role of Thanos, but some speculate that since Thanos’ origin is tied to the group known as the Eternals, he might make an appearance in their upcoming film, which starts filming in August.
24. Three Musketeers
Brolin has three children, a daughter with current wife Kathryn Boyd, and two from his first marriage to actress Alice Adair. Trevor was born in 1988 (31) and Eden was born in 1994 (25). The newest addition to the family, Westlyn, is six months old. Meanwhile, Boyd less than a year older than Trevor.
25. Family Man
Brolin’s current wife is his former assistant. The two tied the knot in 2015 and Boyd has commented on Brolin’s role as the father to a young child, remarking on his transformation into a more caring and responsible figure. While Brolin obviously cared for his other children as well, he had to hustle more for jobs when he was raising them, but now he has a little more control over his schedule. In order to film Dune, Brolin added a term in his contract that he could only work two weeks continuously, allowing him to have two weeks off to see his family.
26. Peer Support
Robert Downey Jr. is the only MCU cast member that got to read the whole script for Endgame, and it was a similar situation for Infinity War. Brolin remembers being in the theatre at the premiere and thinking “What the f***” when the ending came. He also remembers looking over at Chris Hemsworth at that moment. Hemsworth made a throat-slashing gesture, essentially telling Brolin “you’re going to be the most hated man on the planet.”
27. Snap Decision
Brolin has admitted that playing Thanos is one of the best decisions he’s ever made, due to the audience participation and level of involvement he has received from Marvel fans. It’s not hard to imagine, since Marvel probably has the most rabid fanbase of any film series.
28. Toughest Critic
While critics and audiences generally loved Brolin’s performance as Cable, the actor is actually eager to do the upcoming X-Force film so that he can redeem himself. He wants to do a “better version” of the character. Brolin also admitted that Deadpool 2’s production did have its share of drama, but also said that working with Ryan Reynolds made it fun.
29. Dazed and Confused
Brolin knew he wanted to be an actor by the time he graduated high school. He joined an acting class in his junior year, which led to his first role: Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire. Decades later, and he’s playing one of the best villains to grace the screen.
Brolin may be sitting on a record with his involvement five different comic book franchises. He has his notable roles as Thanos in the MCU and Cable in Deadpool 2, plus K in Men in Black III (based off a Malibu/Marvel comic), the title character in Jonah Hex, and Dwight McCarthy in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
31. Praise from God
Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had a cameo in one of Endgame’s early scenes) had his own fan casts for Thanos, imagining Arnold Schwarzenegger or Idris Elba as perfect voice actors for the role (before he realized motion capture would be used). However, once he saw Brolin’s performance, he couldn’t think of anyone else who would have nailed the role.
32. The Big League
Summer 2018 is referred to as the Summer of Brolin. The box office success of Infinity War gave Brolin his first #1 film at the box office. Deadpool 2 and Sicario: Day of the Soldado were just icing on the cake. However, Brolin tries not to pay attention to the box office figures or the increased fame, since he feels like it puts pressure on him to select roles that will keep the momentum going, rather than roles he cares about.
33. Not So Glamorous
Brolin spent most of his youth growing up on a ranch in Paso Robles, California. However, he sold the ranch in 2004, realizing that the upkeep (with his salary at the time) was too much. Even when Brolin started getting bigger, more critically revered roles, like No Country for Old Men, he was paid the union scale of $100,000. After agent fees and taxes, it worked out to about $36,000.
34. Garage Band
Brolin was a founding member of a punk band called Rich Kids on LSD. The band has had numerous members over the years, and Brolin says he was one of the founders—specifically, the original drummer. He mainly recalls performing with them in LA clubs like Godzilla’s, which was a punk epicenter at the time. Brolin was not associated with the band when it gained more international popularity.
Back when he drank regularly, most of Brolin’s drinking was isolated to pre-planned binges. He would periodically leave for LA or a suite in New York (often paid for by a film studio) and drink for days at a time. During these binges, Brolin can recall trying to have marijuana delivered to his hotel room, waking up in the bathtub, and waking up in a bowl of mac and cheese.
36. Death Sticks
Aside from drinking, Brolin also has a long history with cigarettes. He remembers stealing them when he was nine and smoking regularly by thirteen. Like drinking, he cut the habit about five years ago. He now uses Nicorette to stay on the straight and narrow.
37. Living in the Shadow
Brolin’s younger brother, Jess, hasn’t been as fortunate as his older bro. When he was a kid, he was attacked by one of the wolves on the family ranch, and the damage required 60 stitches to fix. Jess got a six-figure trust fund after his mother’s death in 1995, but by 2011 he was evicted from his $800/month apartment. Jess was reportedly homeless as of 2014, and still refusing help from family.
38. Live Fast…
Josh Brolin remembers his mother, Jane Cameron Agee, as an impatient “firecracker” of a woman. She apparently asked James Brolin about getting married 12 days after they met. When another boyfriend tried to leave her, she pointed a .22 rifle at him. The boyfriend left anyway, so she chased him in her car. She returned home and told her son that she crashed into an embankment and broke her back. Years later, she died after crashing into a tree.
Brolin’s mother-in-law, Barbara Streisand, made headlines for getting her deceased dog, a Coton de Tulear, cloned. Brolin recalls speaking at Chris Cornell’s funeral, only to leave early because he had to comfort his mother-in-law over the death of her precious pooch.
40. Golden Arches
While enjoying a surf trip in Costa Rica in 2013, Brolin and his girlfriend (now wife), Kathryn Boyd left their hotel to head to McDonald’s. The McDonald’s was closed and someone approached Brolin (in the wee hours of the morning) to ask for a cigarette and money. When Brolin told the man he had neither, the man stabbed him. A second man appeared, and Brolin told Boyd to run. He ended up in an ambulance, but it turned out that the knife wound was shallow and missed any vital organs. According to the doctor, Brolin would be dead if the knife went an inch lower.
41. Lucky 13
2013 was a turning point for Brolin, but not in a good way. Early that year, he was arrested for public intoxication in New Orleans. One month later, his nine-year marriage to Diane Lane ended. And let’s not forget about the stabbing! Getting sober became a priority after his grandmother passed away. Brolin remembers waking up on the sidewalk in front of his house the morning after Halloween. He was then called to see his grandma on her deathbed. Although he was reeking of booze, she still smiled at him. Brolin stayed sober for five years and celebrated the five-year mark…with a night out. However, he has since returned to sobriety.
42. Requiem for a Dream
Brolin admits he has dabbled in hard drugs, but also says he never got addicted. Having “19 friends” who died from use probably helped him stay away. Brolin also credits his early experimentation to a belief that it was good to “experience everything.” He has since moved on from the mindset, acknowledging that the need for adventures can be supplemented by imagination, which is safer and less likely to lead to death or jail time.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26