Thursday, January 8, 2015

Brolin bashes Phoenix and both live to tell about it

LOS ANGELES -- According to Josh Brolin, working with fellow actor Joaquin Phoenix and writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson is a totally unique filmmaking experience. In "Inherent Vice," Brolin, as burly and bonkers L.A. cop Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornsen, is the mortal enemy of Phoenix's eccentric private eye, a '70s stoner still very much hung over from the psychedelic '60s.
Brolin explains during a December interview: "The one thing about working with Joaquin and Paul was that, if an instinct entered the room, the instinct was usually manifested. Now, whether it worked or not was a completely different conversation."
Doc Sportello and Bigfoot Bjornsen square off again.
The best example of that dynamic shows up in the very first scene shot for the film, which is adapted from the very trippy and funny Thomas Pynchon novel. 
"Now remember," Brolin continues, "you're working with Joaquin, who is somebody you know can take it. But that first shot in the movie -- the first time Joaquin and I ever worked together -- was a simple dialogue scene of confronting each other, with me in the car and him outside. 
"Then Paul said something like, 'Why don't you not say any dialogue, confront each other and, anytime you want to talk, make it a dance move instead?'
"I think a bit of that actually showed up in the movie somewhere, at least a moment of it, and then that turned into something violent.
"There was one take that I even pushed Joaquin into a wall, and we didn't know it was fake. So, he went through the wall and then down some stairs. Of course, I felt bad, but it's Joaquin! And Joaquin is like a little baby. He's just rubber. He doesn't even react."
Naturally, the ever-resilient Phoenix remembers it much differently, not to mention a little less dramatically, and with a surprise ending.
"Oh, yeah, I completely forgot about that," he says during a separate interview.
"I don't think that I fell through, because I don't think I'd be here if I did. Besides, it wasn't a wall, it was almost like aluminum siding.
"Anyway, it was just this barrier for this little garden, and I got pushed and part of me went through. Then," Phoenix concludes, "we walked around and looked down and we saw that it was a complete drop way down to the basement.
"It was just one of those things and wow, one week into shooting and there would've been some broken bones."
With "Inherent Vice" opening wide this weekend, you can read more about Phoenix and his character, Larry "Doc" Sportello, here right now.

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