‘Jonah Hex’: Josh Brolin’s Version of Clint Eastwood & Charles Bronson

Josh Brolin is no stranger to playing rough-and-tumble cowboy types, but his starring role as the title character in Jonah Hex takes things to a new level – namely, extensive prosthetic make-up to simulate the DC Comics bounty hunter’s trademark mangled face. Brolin sums up the experience simply. “A pain in the ass.”

“It’s not even that we didn’t have the money that we chose to go practical,” he continues. “Lon Chaney being one of my heroes and loving the idea of morphing, any opportunity to do that, I embrace. It’s kind of like the story that Alec Baldwin told before he did The Edge, which was out in Alaska with the bear with Anthony Hopkins, when he was sitting in his nice, really warm apartment in New York reading the script saying, ‘I think this could be cool,’ and then smash cut to being out in the middle of nowhere when it’s 40 degrees below zero and going, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have done this movie.’ We did three hours of makeup a day. It was very tough. There were many different layers. I had a mouthpiece that held my mouth all the way back. That was attached to the back of my neck, and then we did three more layers on top of that. Then I walked around with half a mustache and half a beard in New Orleans for three months, so it was nothing attractive.”

That’s not even as bad as it could’ve gotten for him – in the books, Hex’s disfigurement extends up to his eye socket, giving him one constantly wide-glaring eyeball. “We actually had the eye that was in the comic book, and it started to get an infection within the hour, so that wasn’t really… I’m not that dedicated,” Brolin jokes. “But to be honest with you – it sounds like bulls–t but it’s not – it lent to the curmudgeon feel of the character itself. I couldn’t eat. A lot of movies, you say, ‘I had to work 14 hours a day,’ but really you only work six and you wait in your trailer playing Nintendo the rest of the time. We actually worked 14-16 hours a day, so I couldn’t eat that whole time. I would stuff myself in the morning and then just drink water throughout the day, and it was 100 degrees.”

Does he have any regrets about the ordeal? “It’s like having a baby,” he says with a grin. “Now I look at the end result, and I go, ‘That’s pretty cool.’”

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In some of the more recent issues of the series, Hex was drawn as essentially resembling Clint Eastwood’s legendary spaghetti-western Man with No Name, if half his face was hideously scarred. It turns out Eastwood was part of the reason Brolin took on the role of Hex. “If you go back to these Clint Eastwood movies, if you go back to these Charles Bronson movies,” he says, “I’ll even go so far as to say the last movie that I saw, the last character that I saw that I actually wanted to be because he did almost superhuman things, and I just wanted that escape for an hour and half was Jackie Chan in Rumble in the Bronx. But Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, that whole thing of whatever anger you feel in your life – you’re riding your bike down the street when you were 13 and somebody yells something at you or throws something at you for some reason or another, and you don’t feel the ability to fight back. It’s like the cartoon in the back of the comic book where somebody kicks sand in your face. You want that one moment where you have the perfect thing to say or the perfect punch where you don’t have to get into a fight, you can just knock the guy out with one punch and then walk away. This is my version of that. This is my wanting to live that. It’s my attempt at other people coming to the movie and saying, ‘Jonah Hex is really cool. He does these things, he’s with people like Lilah [Megan Fox]. He’s broken and comes from a dark place, but we find levity in the movie. I want to be that guy for an hour and a half.’ The intention is to leave the movie theater and feel a bit puffed up, but not so much that you go put a cap in somebody’s head.”

Watch Charles Bronson in 10 to Midnight right here on Fancast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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