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article imageJosh Brolin on 'Labor Day' and his newfound love of baking Special

By Kristal Cooper     Jan 31, 2014 in Entertainment
Josh Brolin wants you to know that he's not a bad guy in real life, he just plays one in the movies. But then, that wrong perception can be a blessing too. After all, it's what led to him being cast in Jason Reitman's new film.
"There’s a reason why (Reitman) chose me to play the part: I come across as being more intimidating than I necessarily am."
Reitman himself backs up that assertion when relaying a story about Brolin's obsession with making the perfect peach pie — a task that was necessary to master to make a particular scene in Labor Day sing. "Josh made a pie every day. He’s the picture of masculinity but when you show up at his cottage and he’s wearing an apron and he’s over the moon about the crust he achieved that day or the juices that came out, it’s a very different side of him. He gave pies to everybody and at first they were really charmed but by the end (of production) everyone was like, 'oh f*ck! He made me another pie!'"
Brolin laughs and confirms the story, "I made a peach pie every single day. I bought out all of the peaches in the small town of Concord, Massachusetts where we shot."
In Labor Day, Josh plays Frank, a man convicted for murder and on the run after jumping out a hospital window. Hiding out in a small town department store, he approaches a nervous-looking woman (Kate Winslet) and her son (Gattlin Griffin) and asks for a ride. He ends up staying at their house for the entire tension-filled Labour Day weekend. It's a role that required a slow burn-type of performance that was still imbued with some extreme, if quietly-rendered, emotion. In other words, not a simple character for the actor to puzzle out.
"You intellectualize it purely out of fear in the beginning, you just don’t want to do a bad acting job and you want to see (Reitman's) vision through as best you can." says Brolin. "Then once you get into the role you just try to visceralize it as much as possible. Jason is tweaking it more than I am because once I’m inside it I can’t really see it. I just know how I feel."
In addition to Reitman's guidance and support, Brolin is quick to attribute his success to his chemistry with his co-star, Kate Winslet ("She’s an amazing person who’s not intimidated by anything or anybody which is really nice to be around.") as well as the on-set atmosphere, which was surprisingly light for such a serious film. "You don’t know how much to repeat to people about what happened on set because there’s a nice romance in the mythology of it. We created this world and this intimate bubble but for me, despite it being a drama that’s so laconic and subtle in its behaviour, I kinda made an ass of myself on the set."
He continues, "A lot of Jason’s direction to me was to please stop moving and fucking around. I found it very important to keep things light because then I feel like we have a place to go and when we go to that place it becomes a much more reactionary dynamic than if I just live in this dark hole. That’s a very selfish quirk of mine."
One criticism that's been levelled at the film is that the connection between Brolin's and Winslet's characters is unrealistic and more a characteristic of a romance novel than being anchored in the real world. Brolin dismisses that with an explanation that helped to fuel his own understanding of the characters.
"When it comes to chemistry there’s something that you really can’t deny. I know people have said, would something like this really happen, but I think when you have two people who come from such isolated situations — one being confined in jail and one being totally agoraphobic — and are in such need of human connection, it’s like two magnets. It’s almost undeniable at that point."
Although he admits it may not be an easy ride for an audience, he truly believes that having faith in the storytelling will pay off in the end.
"It’s a movie that makes you work but when it comes down to it, you'll be glad you put in the time. It's a hard movie to forget."
Labor Day opens on January 31, 2014.
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