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Josh Brolin – Outer Range

The western genre faded into the background for a few decades, but now, with shows like this and Yellowstone, it’s wildly popular again. Why is that?

I don’t know. We dealt with the same thing with No Country. People wanted to shelve that movie so much, but the fact that it was the Coens and they had their fanbase, [the studio] couldn’t really say no — especially if it was done at a certain budget. But westerns were not being watched at that point, and then that [movie] kind of started the ball rolling again. Everything has its cycle . . . I’m glad the western genre is back, because it’s a really fun genre to be involved with — and it simplifies everything. I think in this day and age things are so complicated and so chaotic and so technological that we like getting back into this visceral simplicity.

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured (left to right): Lili Taylor as Cecilia Abbott, Josh Brolin as Royal Abbott.
© Amazon Content Services LLC

Does this show feel like a full-circle moment, given that you started out on another TV western, The Young Riders?

Yeah, man. I was 20 then, and I’m 56 now! My dad, he’s 83, and he’s on the same ranch right now that I was on for the first season of Outer Range, playing a rancher, freezing his a** off, and we laugh about it . . . Looking back, I love being in the elements — whether it’s a western, or whether it’s doing Only the Brave about the 19 who lost their lives in the wildfire, or Everest — we just like being out there. We think it enhances the behavioural colours of what goes on [in the film or TV show]. And I don’t know, maybe it just makes us feel like we’re doing something else to earn our cheque.

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Josh Brolin as Royal Abbott.
© Amazon Content Services LLC

What sorts of challenges does Royal Abbott have to brave now that his secret past — his secret connection to the void — has been revealed?

Well, he denied and lied and held back with some idea that he was protecting his family — and then once he reveals the truth of that lie, I think he’s hoping that everybody’s just going to embrace him in celebration. The truth is, when truth is revealed, it’s like when somebody gets sober. Somebody says, “You gotta get sober, you’re ruining the family . . .” and then they get sober and they think everything’s going to be great. But everybody has to recalibrate, and during that recalibration, it is incredibly chaotic. Where is your relationship now that you’ve shifted? And if it’s a unit, everybody has to shift.

What is your personal process for finding a way into a character?

It changes every time. Like, when we were doing Dune, when Denis [Villeneuve, director] said, “I want you to write the song with Hans [Zimmer, the film’s composer],” I’m like, “What?” It was a big ask, only because Hans Zimmer is Hans Zimmer — and who am I? We did it, and it revealed to me much more of the character, in just kind of riffing on lyrics and prose. So, it’s different every time and with every character. Sometimes it can come out of music. Sometimes it can come out of experimenting with the way that you walk. All that sounds like frou-frou, masturbatory stuff, but it’s actually not — because you’re in panic. What are the differences with this character and myself? What are the similarities? What are parts of myself that I can utilize? Because it’s all coming from me, but how much am I trying to cover it up with this idea of “acting?” Am I in a wheelchair? Do I speak with a Serbian accent? Why? Am I just trying to put things on because I’m afraid to deal with what’s behind it? It goes into this kind of behavioural tornado where you’re throwing s*** against the wall [laughs] — but that’s the fun of it, too. It’s the torture, but it’s the fun of it.

Outer Range, streaming on Prime Video


The son of actor James Brolin and stepson of Barbra Streisand, Josh began making his own mark in Hollywood circa 1985, with a role in classic family adventure The Goonies. But he truly hit the A-list in 2007, starring in the Coen Brothers’ neo-noir western No Country for Old Men — which led to playing George W. Bush in Oliver Stone’s W., an Oscar-nominated turn in gay-rights biopic Milk, drug war thriller Sicario and ultimate supervillain Thanos in the Avengers flicks, to name just a few.


Brolin is back in the saddle for season two of this trippy sci-fi western about a Wyoming rancher who struggles to hold his family together amidst both a bitter feud with rival ranchers and a time- and reality-bending “void” that opens up on his land — unearthing long-held secrets.

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