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Josh Brolin on Playing Thanos, Battling Iron Man, "Death," and More

Movie Josh Brolin Thanos by Joey Paur

Josh Brolin is perfect casting for Thanos, and I'm so happy that Marvel was able to wrangle him into their cinematic universe. It didn't take much convincing, though. In a recent interview with IGN the actor spoke about playing Thanos and how he got the part. He also talked about story, "Death," and taking on Iron Man.

When asked what attracted him to the villain, he said,

"First and foremost, I have a really good friend who I've known for years who's the co-president of Marvel, Louis D'Esposito. I knew Louis as a first AD, and he's the one who initially called me, and then [producer] Jeremy Latcham. Then I talked to Kevin Feige, ultimately. But there's something about them that's so insular and so geeky and so real. I loved it -- because I've turned down a lot of those types of movies. Not Marvel, but I've turned down a lot of those types of movies. When they started telling me the story about them getting together in Palm Springs, nine of them flipping burgers and talking about what Thanos was going to do and going, 'What do you think?' like, 'Captain America's going to show up here!' Then, 'Oh my God, what if the Hulk came in at that point?' and all that -- I love that sh**. I love it, because those guys are absolutely saturated with that world, and they love story. Another thing that I really loved is, they said that they didn't use directors that did music videos and all that in the past. They would always look for people who had done stories. If you look at James Gunn's oeuvre, he's done even web series, but they're all stories."

He went on to talk about his source of inspiration for the character, saying that he channeled Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Then he said,

"I start thinking of all those things, but that's after the fact. I want to know that these guys are really into what they're doing. It's not just like, 'Oh, Marvel's hot right now. Do you want to do a Marvel thing?' Well, no, I don't want to do a Marvel thing, because that can have the opposite impact, and you can actually work less and people go, 'Oh, why'd you get him for that?' I ask, 'Do I see myself as this thing and could I do this thing?' Not that I'm ever 100-percent sure, but we had constructed this small thing, Kevin Feige and I and Robert, and going on-stage at Comic-Con. Then it became something else. Once I got on-stage, it sort of became its own improv. I knew at that point, because I saw the rivalry between Robert [Downey Jr.] and I, and I thought, 'I get this. I suddenly really get it.' So I feel like I'm more inside it than I was. It was more a display to me before that. It was more cosmetic. Now I think I'm starting to get who the guy is a little bit." 

Brolin expanded a little bit more on his rivalry with Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, and he's looking forward to facing off with him,  although it's "not necessarily because we're personally connected… It's just, we're both in very different parts of our lives. He's fun. He's smart, and I like playing off of somebody smart, because it's challenging. I like the challenge a lot." 

Then, of course, there's Thanos' relationship with Death in the comic books, about which he said,

"His relationship with Death, who is actually the woman, I love that. You can take Sin City [in which Brolin plays a man obsessed with a dark-hearted woman] and pump it full of steroids, and then you have Thanos. I like that he's motivated by that -- not just motivated by destruction or death or this or that. He's motivated by a very identifiable, human trait."

When asked about taking on a multi-film story arc the actor said,

"Having done different series and all that, it's like doing the best series you could ever do. You know you're taken care of, you know the manifestations are good, you these people are at the top of their game. I've been involved in series where I couldn't wait to play a character and watch the character go through this trajectory, and then you would say, 'Why would you do that?' Like, you're doing that based on a model of what you think people want. 'Oh, we need a love interest now. Oh, we need this.' This is already set up, and it's set up brilliantly. It's like, 'Okay, now how are you going to utilize it in a way that's within Avengers, within Guardians, within that?' I don't know if there's anybody better than them [Marvel Studios]. They understand it. They live it. I can tell you live it too, and it's that kind of a thing. It's like, I'm catching up to you guys, and I love the idea of catching up to somebody. You know, there are movies that I've done where I feel like I have a better understanding before I even started than the filmmakers do. And that's disconcerting because they're the filmmakers. They're like, 'Well, what do you want to do?' It's like,'What do you mean what do I want to do? What do you want me to do?' We can go back and forth with it, and maybe I'll have my two cents over here and they go, 'Oh my God, that would be great. Even though that's not really a part of Thanos, it would be a great addition to Thanos, to make him even more Thanos,' or bring even more humanity to Thanos -- whatever it is. So I'm in the learning stages that is really exciting. When I first said yes, they sent me so much frickin' research. I was in the middle of doing Everest, and I was focusing more on Thanos than I was on Everest. But it's an exciting prospect, truly." 

Brolin says that he doesn't know what the full Thanos arc that the studio has planned, but he does have an idea saying:

"I know what one appearance is going to be for sure. There's one or two that I don't know."

One thing we know for sure is that one day Thanos' epic villainy will eventually be displayed on the big screen. When it is, I don't see how there can be a happy ending. Thanos will kill so many people, and I can't help but think that some of our favorite heroes will die at his hand. 

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