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Labor Day - Josh Brolin interview

Labor Day

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JOSH Brolin talks about some of the challenges of making Labor Day with Jason Reitman and discusses his chemistry with Kate Winslet. He also reveals his love for cooking.

He was speaking at a press conference held during the 2013 London Film Festival.

Q. Both Adele and Frank are very scared individuals but they seem to need each other. What is it in each of them that speaks to the other one, in your opinion?
Josh Brolin: I think you have someone who has been imprisoned for 19 years, who has escaped, who doesn’t necessarily have a criminal mind even though he’s committed this horrible crime, but unintentionally so. And then you put him together with a woman who has been imprisoned emotionally for as long as she has… people say how unlikely this scenario is. But then you go into Jurassic Park and say: “But this would?” [Laughs] So, from the DNA of our ice cube we create our own answer to this. It is a movie, yes, but I also think it represents a lot of things for us in how far we’ve gone in our own emotional needs and the standards that we create for ourselves in love and whether we live up to those standards. And then looking back in hindsight and all of the relationships that we’ve been in and all the wacky things that we’ve done, when we consider that this is not really that far-fetched – at least for me emotionally. But then again, look at my life!

Q. Why is it when it’s an ex-con, if he does something good then you actually want him to be the person you hope he’s going to be?
Josh Brolin: I think there’s a sensitivity to him that only came – and I didn’t really understand it when we were doing it – that Jason created by demanding this stillness. I would do a scene with Kate [Winslet] and I’d do something with my hand and we’d finish the take and I’d look at Jason as if to say: “I think we got it…” But then he’d say: “Yeah but let’s do it again but don’t do that with your hand.” And I’d be: “Are you f**king serious?!” But the amount of stillness that he demanded created a vulnerability in me that comes across as a great sensitivity and I didn’t realise that until I saw the film. I know how uncomfortable it felt while I was doing it. But when you’re not allowed to extract them physically, suddenly the emotions can’t help but creep out in ways that aren’t very typical.

Q. Did you speak to any prisoners or do any kind of extra research beyond the book?
Josh Brolin: Didn’t Joyce actually write the book based on a relationship… I don’t know how extensive it was but a correspondence she had with somebody in prison that actually turned out to not work in her favour. But that’s what spring-boarded this whole idea: what would it be like for a woman, who is basically a shut-in, for a guy like this to come into her life, what would the chemistry be like? So, ultimately, it’s such a far-fetched…. what was the question?

Q. Did you speak to real prisoners to gain any insight into them?
Josh Brolin: Damien Echols I spoke with, who was in prison for 19 years… you know, the Memphis Three. I remember the first thing he said when he got out was that he touched the grass and started crying. But all of that kind of stuff is just masturbatory actors’ stuff that you don’t really get to use, it’s just great to talk about. When it comes down to it, you turn up on the set, you’ve done a bunch of research and then you end up there on the first day and realise you have no idea what you’re doing and you think you’ve been mis-cast in the role, and you look at Kate and you’re hoping there’s a connection there. I adore her and have so much respect for herm which was lucky, because this then starts to have its own life, no matter what the book is or the construction of the story that you’re trying to follow. When it comes down to it, we were very lucky that we enjoyed each other and I think that fed a lot into how this worked out.

Q. Your character is a culinary expert. Are you any good at cooking or was that just for the film?
Josh Brolin: I wanted to be a cook when I was a kid. There were two things: my dad was really pushing me to be a lawyer, acting was really not in the cards. But then I wanted to be a cook, so I cooked in a restaurant for three years. I like cooking very much. I cook for my kids all the time. I cooked a pie for everyone every day [on-set].

Read our review of Labor Day

Read our interview with Kate Winslet