Josh Brolin on Directing Difficult Actors: ‘If You’re Just an Irritated Actor Because You’re So Creative or Sensitive, I Just Don’t Buy It’

Some directors prefer a soft touch when working with their talent, but as an actor himself, Josh Brolin’s behind-the-camera demeanor has more of a no-bullshit approach. Discussing his first time in the director’s chair on his television show “Outer Range” with Esquire, Brolin outlined how directing was thrust upon him rather than asked of, but that it came from others seeing he had the skills and sensibility to take on this role.

“There were a lot of interests that I’ve had through the decades that I never really understood,” said Brolin. “When I directed, I was able to funnel it all into one place without trying to force it. My whole life made sense.…I’m not going to quit acting and just be a director. But it utilizes more of my sensibilities as a person. I’m naturally a communal person. I get excited by experimenting. To imprison that with just me feels really limiting. But I may just be a mediocre actor.”

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Though misplaced, that sense of mediocrity may come from a general lack of vanity Brolin exudes. After growing up and coming of age in the business, he has no one left to impress other than his audience and realizes being reliable on set is more important than proving your artistry. Discussing this with Esquire, he said, “I said this as a joke on ‘Kimmel’ — I was like, ‘I don’t particularly love actors.’ Especially people who won’t come to the set and that kind of shit. If there’s a good reason, I get it, but if you’re just an irritated actor because you’re so creative or sensitive, I just don’t buy it.”

Not specifying any one negative experience, Brolin went on to speak of his preference for just doing the work and trying to create something that takes people away without force-feeding a message.

“I miss that feeling,” Brolin said of being moved by a piece of cinema, art, or literature. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m jaded, or Fonzie tried to jump the shark too many times, but I miss just being transported.”

Hopefully Brolin can help change that as he expands his repertoire and explores middle age. He said to Esquire, “I’m happy with this time. It’s my version of a midlife crisis, and I really like it. I’m not buying a Porsche. We’re moving out of L.A. We’re directing, writing a play; we got a book coming out in November. We’re fucking with it. I’m tired. It doesn’t matter. What matters is manifesting whatever it is I feel, and it’s been a great liberation.”

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