In ‘Outer Range’, Josh Brolin’s ‘stupid’ choice keeps paying off

In 1987, actor Josh Brolin rejected a film role as “surfer guy” for a place in a short-lived TV series that would eventually change his life.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

To most people, the grandeur and splendor of the American West are sources of beauty, wonder, and inspiration.

But hiking in these spacious landscapes can also lead to danger. Just ask Josh Brolin, the Oscar-nominated actor, who is praised for his portrayals of complex characters who are at the mercy of forces beyond their control.

In the Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” Brolin played the welder Llewelyn Moss, whose discovery of the bloody aftermath of a $ 2 million ruined drug deal in the middle of a New Mexican desert puts him in the crosshairs of a psychotic assassin. (Javier Bardem).

And in Amazon Prime Video’s new neo-western “Outer Range” – think “Yellowstone” meets “The X-Files” – Brolin portrays a haunted rancher in Wyoming, whose life is further turned as he encounters a massive hole with metaphysical forces in the middle its life. property.

In both projects, something bad gets in his way.

“This whole metaphysical thing is really interesting to me and really fun to me,” Brolin from the Outer Range said, maintaining that the project fits into his quest to play unmanageable, complicated characters: “I have to be scared.”

Brolin, who won an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the hard-hitting politician Dan White in the Harvey Milk biography “Milk,” also starring Sean Penn, was in good spirits as he sat in a hotel room in Los Angeles.

Three men in cowboy hats stand on the field

From left Tom Pelphrey, Lewis Pullman and Josh Brolinin the new series “Outer Range.”

(Richard Foreman / Amazon Prime Video)

A few days earlier, he had presented at the Oscars, referring to how Hollywood was still buzzing about the protagonist, Will Smith, who beat Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

He compared the incident to the premise of “Outer Range.”

“It’s behaviorally fascinating if you’re able to take the judgment out of it and be somewhat objective,” he said. “The parallel to our show is what people will do under extraordinary circumstances and how many choices you have when confronted with the unknown.”

“Outer Range” marks Brolin’s first role as a regular television series in nearly two decades. After all, he’s been busy elsewhere and starred in several major films over the past many years: A large part of last year’s space epic, “Dune,” came on the heels of playing the supervillain Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”, another villain named Cable in “Deadpool 2”, and the main name along with Benicio del Toro in two gross drug cartel dramas, “Sicario” and its sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”.

Although he did not know how the audience would react to “Outer Range” – “my perspective on the show is meaningless at this point,” he said – Brolin was encouraged by early positive reactions to the series, where he is also executive producer. .

When asked what appealed to him about his character, Royal Abbott, he proclaims “The Secret,” alluding to the mystery at the center of the series. “I’m not a big secret guy, especially now. I think I was before and I think I understand what it is. The tone [it sets] as a paternal power – it is not determined by Royal, but is dictated by him. And you can see how it affects everyone in the family in a very negative way. “

Even before he discovers the massive hole in his property, Royal has a lot on his mind. His daughter-in-law has disappeared without a trace, and his family, including his religious wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor), are still grieving. He is at war with the neighbors. A drifter named Autumn (Imogen Poots), who is camping on the ranch, seems to have an eerie agenda.

A man holds a mirror against a black background with his face seen in the mirror.

“Outer Range” marks Josh Brolin’s first role as a regular television series in nearly two decades, following a streak of parts in several major films.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“Outer Range” creator and executive producer Brian Watkins said he was inspired by his fascination with the West, where he grew up. “For me, it has always been a place filled with equal parts wonder and danger. I always tell people that you can walk to the edge of a tree line or stand in front of a mountain and feel like you are staring into another world or dimension. It is a place where the exterior shapes the interior. ”

Abbott’s discovery, Watkins said, “sets in motion a stratospheric chain of events that begins to reveal the void in him and his family. And Josh is just a dream casting for this part. His past achievements have informed and shaped our imagination about the American West. . “

The first episode where Abbott is pursued in the dark by enemies driving in vehicles with sharp headlights can even be described as a shoutout to a similar scene in “No Country for Old Men”.

“We needed someone who seemed to have a big secret and is torn over it,” Watkins said.

Brolin said he was attracted to the material for a number of reasons. “I grew up on a ranch in Paso Robles, California. Royal is a laconic man, and he reminds me a lot of the guys I grew up with. It also reminded me of Sam Shepard, who was a good friend. It led me. back to his previous stuff, the feeling of Sam. I also know on a practical level what will support me, like, ‘Am I going to get bored with this halfway?’ For I will not give 1,000%, whereas I would normally. “

Brolin, whose breakout role came as Brand in “The Goonies” in 1985, remembered being offered a featured role in 1987, when he was in his late teens, in “Back to The Beach” – a comedy designed as a “comeback”. For 1960s teenage sensations Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

“I was offered the role of ‘surfer guy,'” Brolin said. “But I was interested in a role in this TV series called ‘Private Eye’. When I said I would rather do it, people said it would never happen because they were watching everyone and auditioning around Agents told me that if I did not make the Frankie and Annette movie, I would be a stupid s … “.

Brolin stood firm. “I said, ‘I’m kicking myself if I do not try this, whatever the outcome.’ And I got the role.The series did not last, but I met my first wife [actor Alice Adair] and mother of my two oldest children. It would not have happened if I had made the movie “- he paused before laughing -” which incidentally earned $ 4. No insult to them. “

After the madness of making so many big movies back to back in 2018 and 2019, Brolin decided to walk away from the business for a while. During the break, he and his wife, former assistant Kathryn Boyd, had two children. “Being with them was very important to me,” Brolin said.

After taking time off, he signed on for “Dune”, which reunited him with his “Sicario” director Denis Villeneuve. “That movie is a work of art, whether you like it or not,” Brolin said. “What everyone did together on ‘Dune’ was phenomenal, to create something like that with the book, which is the closest book.”

He then jumped to “Outer Range.” It was a strict admission in Santa Fe, NM “The elements were brutal. At night it would come down to eight degrees. Lili and I wanted to make a scene, and in the middle of it I could see her start shaking. ”

Although Brolin is proud of the series, he said he is also aware that it competes against a number of other projects on streaming, cable and networking.
“The only thing that makes it worthwhile is that you have created something that evokes some emotions and is of a tone that I find inspiring. That’s all you can do. And I have faith, Brolin said.

‘Outer range’

Where: AmazonPrime

When: Anytime

Evaluation: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under 17)

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