February 12, 1968
Templeton, California, USA
Actor, Artistic director, Director
Minnie Driver, Alice Adair, Diane Lane
PhotosView All (162)
As the son of James Brolin, stepson of Barbra Streisand and husband of Diane Lane, actor Josh Brolin forged his career in the shadow of three formidable talents. In fact, ever since his debut in "The Goonies" (1985), Brolin languished for years in roles that were well below his station. Adding to his self-determined persona was an ability to get into occasional trouble - whether it was being mauled by a mountain lion, crashing his motorcycle weeks before shooting a major film, or making headlines with an arrest for a domestic dispute - Brolin had a knack for generating publicity in interesting ways. Meanwhile, he worked steadily throughout his career, though he suffered a string of mediocre movies that included "The Road Killers" (1994), "The Mod Squad" (1999) and "Hollow Man" (2000). But he began to step away from such lowbrow fare with a turn in Woody Allen's serio-comedy "Melinda and Melinda" (2005) and eventually broke free with his acclaimed performance in the Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men" (2007). He played a crooked cop in "American Gangster" (2007), the bumbling President of the United States in "W." (2008), and San Francisco politician and assassin Dan White in "Milk" (2008). Though he stumbled a bit as the lead in "Jonah Hex" (2010), Brolin rebounded with "True Grit" (2010), proving that his transformation into a highly sought after leading man was no fluke.
Brolin was born on Feb. 12, 1968 in Templeton, CA to actor James Brolin and aspiring actress Jane Cameron Agee. His parents later divorced in 1984, while his mom died in 1995 after crashing her car into a tree. From the start, he was surrounded by show business, though he grew up hating the unstable nature of the business and was adamantly determined to not follow in his dashing father's footsteps. But after performing in a high school production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Brolin became hooked and pursued an acting career after all. He made his feature debut as the bench-pressing older brother of a young boy (Sean Astin) leading a band of misfit kids on an adventure to find mysterious treasure in the Steven Spielberg-produced "The Goonies" (1985). After starring as a skate-boarding hood in "Thrashin'" (1986), Brolin took a break from the feature world to focus on television.
After his first go on in features, Brolin found steady work on the small screen, beginning with a co-starring role on the short-lived "Private Eye" (NBC, 1987-88) as Johnny Betts, a streetwise 1950s rock 'n' roller who forms an unlikely partnership with a gritty private detective (Michael Woods). He followed by making his television movie debut as the detainee at a Boys Industrial School in "Prison for Children" (CBS, 1987). Continuing a string of TV movies, he played a student athlete pushed too hard by his former track star father in a sports drama about the tragic effects of steroids in "Finish Line" (1989), a project that gave him the opportunity to star opposite his real-life father. Brolin raised his profile as one of the stars of "The Young Riders" (ABC, 1989-1992), a revisionist take on the Pony Express and Old West. While on hiatus from the series, he cofounded the Reflections Festival in 1990 with Anthony Zerbe, who played the grizzled old stationmaster Teaspoon Hunter on "The Young Riders." Stationed at the GeVa Theatre in Rochester, NY, the Reflections Festival gave Brolin the chance to both act and direct, an affiliation he maintained through 1995. After hanging up his spurs as the young Jimmy 'Wild Bill' Hickock, Brolin returned to regular series work as a cop torn between two women in the short-lived primetime serial "Winnetka Road" (NBC, 1993-94). He soon placed television on the back burner to take advantage of feature opportunities that began to surface, though he did return some years later for the adaptation of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Picnic" (CBS, 2000).
Looking older, Brolin enjoyed a memorable moment licking Patricia Arquette's armpit while playing the bisexual federal agent who wants a child in "Flirting with Disaster" (1996), a role that whispered promises of stardom that later never materialized. After a small role as a wiseacre lab rat in "Mimic" (1997), he reunited with Arquette as a law student who chops off his finger in the thriller "Night Watch" (1998). Brolin acted alongside his father once again in the straight-to-video political thriller "My Brother's War" (1998). Turning up as Claire Danes' druggie ex-boyfriend in the spectacular flop, "The Mod Squad," did nothing for his career. But he did fare better as the self-centered preppie jerk in the semi-stylized modern noir "Best Laid Plans" (1999). He next costarred opposite Kevin Bacon's disapproving scientist rival in "The Hollow Man," Paul Verh ven's dismal take on "The Invisible Man." Also in 2000, Brolin made his Broadway debut in Sam Shepard's "True West," alternating the lead roles of antagonistic siblings Lee and Austin with co-star Elias Koteas.
Back on television, Brolin played a poetry-spewing video store clerk and aspiring filmmaker who develops a potentially life-threatening crush on a crazy blonde woman (Anna Paquin) in James D. Stern's darkly comic anti-gun violence missive "It's the Rage" (Cinemax, 2000). Brolin returned to regular series work playing the titular role in "Mister Sterling" (NBC, 2002-03), a short-lived, one-hour drama about the son of a well-liked former governor who fills his father's vacated Senate seat despite being reluctant to take on the task. Though the show received moderately good reviews, it failed to attract high ratings and was canceled after only nine episodes. Meanwhile, Brolin received the kind of recognition most would rather not have; in 2004, he was arrested for suspicion of domestic battery against his wife, actress Diane Lane, after the police were called to their home. Though no charges were ever filed, Brolin and Lane suffered the ignominy of being publicly scrutinized for what he called a "misconstrued, awful thing that was the best lesson we ever had." Brolin and Lane remained a couple thereafter.
After a small role as a WASPy dentist in Woody Allen's mild dramedy "Melinda and Melinda" (2005), Brolin was a rival treasure hunter trying to out-hustle a group of scuba divers going after a shipwreck rumored to contain millions in gold in the wretched action thriller "Into the Blue" (2005). Brolin made a big impression in the sweeping six-part miniseries "Into the West" (TNT, 2005), playing legendary mountain man Jedediah Smith, then retreated to the confines of independent film with supporting performances in "Milwaukee, Wisconsin" (2005) and "Coastlines" (2006). After playing the lowlife pimp of a troubled young runaway (Brittany Murphy) in "The Dead Girl" (2006), Brolin appeared as the psychotic husband of an emergency room anesthesiologist (Marley Shelton) in the "Planet Terror" segment of "Grindhouse" (2007), a compilation of two 90-minute horror flicks from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez that was a throwback to the days of bloody, sex-fueled, low-rent double features that played in seedy 42nd Street theaters in New York City.
His appearance in "Grindhouse" marked the beginning of a career rebirth that saw Brolin finally landing roles worthy of his untapped talents. A small, but memorable role in the somber war drama, "In the Valley of Elah" (2007) dovetailed into playing a corrupt detective hell bent on compromising the integrity of an idealistic counterpart (Russell Crowe) trying to bring down an inner city crime boss (Denzel Washington) in Ridley Scott's excellent crime thriller, "American Gangster" (2007). Saving his best for last, Brolin delivered perhaps the performance of a lifetime in "No Country for Old Men" (2007), a role he landed only after his agent pestered filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen to give him an audition. After finally getting the part, Brolin crashed his motorcycle into a car, though fortunately he was wearing a helmet and only broke his collarbone. He showed up to set two weeks later ready to play Llewelyn Moss, a down-and-out Vietnam vet who finds a briefcase containing $2 million in the desert near the remains of a bloody drug deal gone bad. Taking the satchel of cash only makes Moss' life worse, forcing him to elude all manner of pursuers, including a deadly assassin (Javier Bardem) who flips coins for human lives. "No Country for Old Men" earned considerable praise for the Coen Brothers, but Brolin - for the first time in his long career - received previously unheard-of Oscar buzz.
Coming off the incredible success of the Coen Brothers' film, Brolin next starred as the titular character in "W" (2008), Oliver Stone's controversial biopic about the hapless life and presidency of George W. Bush. Though the film was highly anticipated to be a searing portrait of the bumbling 43rd president, especially coming from Stone - a former classmate of Bush and liberal critic of his administration - the film was surprisingly sympathetic, with critics unanimous in their praise of Brolin's restrained performance. The Shreveport, LA police department, however, was less effusive with praise during the filming, arresting Brolin, co-star Jeffrey Wright and five crew members after an altercation at a local bar. All charges were later dropped. Meanwhile, he delivered an acclaimed performance in "Milk" (2008), playing San Francisco supervisor Dan White, who assassinated Mayor George Moscone (Victor Garbor) and openly gay politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn). Brolin earned numerous critical kudos and several award nominations, including a nod for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards. With his increased profile, Brolin had the opportunity to topline a big-budget film, the comic-book adaptation "Jonah Hex" (2010). As the mysterious scarred gunslinger, Brolin sought revenge on John Malkovich in the supernatural-tinged Western, which proved to be a major flop.
Next working on a Western of a very different kind, Brolin reunited with the Coens for a villainous supporting part in "True Grit" (2010), a lauded remake/literary adaptation starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. That year, the busy actor also appeared in Woody Allen's ensemble comedy "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and the drama sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Laying low during the following year, Brolin resurfaced with a remarkable approximation of Tommy Lee Jones' mannerisms in "Men in Black 3" (2012), where he convincingly played a younger version of the elder actor's alien-hunting Agent K. Brolin then rang in the new year with the star-studded, but underwhelming, period action film "Gangster Squad" (2013) and announced his divorce from Lane during the following month. After a screen absence for most of the year, he popped up in Spike Lee's hard-hitting remake "Oldboy," portraying a long-imprisoned man inexplicably set free and intent on revenge.
Labor DayFrank Chambers
Gangster SquadSgt. John O'Mara
Men in Black 3Young Agent K
True GritTom Chaney
Wall Street 2: Money Never SleepsBretton James
The Tillman StoryNarrator
Jonah HexJonah Hex
Women in TroubleNick Chapel
W.George W. Bush
No Country for Old MenLlewelyn Moss
American GangsterDetective Trupo
In the Valley of ElahChief Buchwald
Planet TerrorDr. William Block
The Dead GirlTarlow
Into the BlueBates
Hollow ManDr Matthew Kensington
Best Laid PlansBryce
The Mod SquadBilly Waites
My Brother's WarActor
Bed of RosesActor