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The Day Trading Theory

February 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin was born February 12, 1968 in Santa Monica, California, but grew up in Templeton, a town in San Luis Obispo County hidden between Paso Robles and Morro Bay. His father was TV and film actor James Brolin, his mother was an aspiring actress. Their son had little interest in the family business.

Speaking to The Hollywood Interview in January 2008, Brolin recalls, “I wasn’t one of these kids that was running around doing scenes for people, until I took an elective in high school called ‘improvisation.’ They told me to get up and create a character. So I got up on stage and created this middle-aged, balding man and just started riffing on it. I didn’t see the creative process. I thought it was easy. It took some time for me to realize that it’s a make or break thing that completely works, or doesn’t work at all. There’s no ‘pretty good.’ If you were pretty good, that means you probably weren’t very good. You’ve got to nail it.”

Still only a teenager, Brolin toughed out auditions. His first professional job was playing Brand Walsh, big brother to a gang of pre-teen treasure hunters in the Steven Spielberg production The Goonies. The movie was a huge hit in the summer of 1985 but it would be uphill for Brolin the next 20 years.

Speaking to The Deadbolt in 2007, the actor recalled, “I did a movie – and people actually like the movie – called Thrashin’ a long time ago. I did Goonies and then I did Thrashin’. And I went to the premiere of Thrashin’ and I cried because I watched myself. Even though people look back at that movie now and go ‘God, I loved that movie, dude’, I couldn’t stand myself; I just thought it was awful. And I went, ‘Okay, go do theater. Go figure out how to do this. Go travel. Learn. Get experience, and then go see if you can do it. If you can’t, go do something else because this is unacceptable. If you’re going to do it, do it well. And if you can’t, go find the thing that you do well.'”

Josh Brolin The Goonies 1985

In 1987, Brolin was in the running for the lead in the Fox TV series 21 Jump Street. After the last audition, he went back to the apartment of the other finalist to wait for word; Johnny Depp got the part. Brolin instead took a sidekick role in a retro detective series for NBC called Private Eye but the show lasted only seven episodes.

He had better luck with an adventure series loosely based on the Pony Express called The Young Riders. Running on ABC for 67 episodes beginning in 1989, Brolin found a friend and mentor in his co-star, veteran actor Anthony Zerbe. “While people looked at me and saw the arms and the square jaw and wanted me to play the jock, Anthony was giving me characters. Real characters. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” As the series was winding down in 1991, Zerbe & Brolin co-founded a new-play festival at the GeVa Theatre in Rochester, New York they called Reflections. For the next four years, Brolin programmed plays and performed in a variety of them.

Playing a bi-sexual FBI agent that Ben Stiller catches licking Patricia Arquette’s armpit in David O. Russell’s screwball comedy Flirting With Disaster (1996) was the highlight of Brolin’s film career for the next dozen years. He got the chance to work with Woody Allen in Melinda and Melinda (2004) and landed the lead in another TV series; Mister Sterling, a modern take on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington that lasted nine episodes on NBC in 2003.

Brolin was nominally cast as the bad guy in Hollywood fare like The Mod Squad (1996) and Into the Blue (2005), or in the sidekick role, as with Mimic (1997) and Hollow Man (2000). Brolin divested his time by continuing his stage work – making his Broadway debut in 2000 opposite Elias Koteas in a production of Sam Shepard’s True West – and spinning his affinity for day trading into his own website, MarketProbability, which offered investors five to ten-day “stock baskets” based on trends and the current state of the market.

Josh Brolin No Country For Old Men 2007

Brolin credited his career resurgence to the sale of his Paso Robles ranch in 2005. “I knew that if I sold the ranch, it was going to create a hole in my life that I would have to fill by pursuing acting work. And it did. And suddenly things started to happen.” After ICM had dropped him as a client in 2001, a young William Morris agent named Michael Cooper stepped up to rep Brolin. “He would call – and not be annoying – but say, ‘See him. I’m not telling you he’s it, I’m not telling you that he’s the guy, I just need you to meet with him. Just meet him.'”

The night before the last day of casting, directors Joel & Ethan Coen agreed to see Brolin for the role of a West Texas welder who takes $2 million in found drug money in No Country For Old Men. Within two days, Brolin had the job. Two days after that, he shattered his collarbone in a motorcycle accident on Highland Avenue in L.A. Afraid he would lose the part, Brolin kept news of the accident from the Coens and reported to work injured.

With No County For Old Men, four acclaimed movies featuring Brolin opened in 2007. He also played a malevolent doc turned zombie in Grindhouse, a small town police chief in In the Valley of Elah and a treacherous narc in American Gangster. Brolin’s productivity got the attention of Oliver Stone – who offered him the role of George W. Bush in W. – and Gus Van Sant, who cast him as infamous San Francisco city supervisor Dan White in Milk. The latter earned Brolin his first Academy Award nomination. Also in 2008, Brolin debuted as a writer-director-producer with X, a gritty 15-minute short starring his teenage daughter Eden.

Brolin contrasted day trading with his approach to acting by stating, “If you’re stressing or thinking about other things, you won’t be fluid. You cannot be an emotional trader. If you are, you will lose. So I sit there and do the opposite of what I would do if I were acting, looking at it objectively and having total discipline. Which is how I get into a part, and then I let it go. It’s all emotional, all visceral.”

© Joe Valdez

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The Candidate“. By Jenelle Riley. Backstage, November 2008

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Tags: United Federation of Character Actors

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 anonymous // Feb 26, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Good article. Interesting story behind Mr. Brolin I never knew. Funny, I remember seeing his name on the “Mimic” poster and relating that to “Goonies”. Then, as a waiter on the central coast of CA, I served him and his sons, frequently. He is a very cool dude, always very polite, kind, and humble. I saw “No Country..” and thought not only was the movie extraordinary, but he was top notch. Glad for his success, hopefully he gets a ranch in Paso again for retirement. (I would say go for Old Creek Road man)

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