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Prepping for a performance is just as physical as it is mental, and portraying a firefighter takes that to another level. Josh Brolin and the cast of Joseph Kosinksi's Only the Brave seemed to put themselves through hell to become the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but it sounds like the physical torture paid off in the end. In fact, I recently had the chance to ask Brolin how preparing to play Eric Marsh compared to a muscle-bound superhero like Cable in Deadpool 2, and he explained that he not only got in better shape depicting Marsh, but he felt compelled to be the fittest member of the cast to sell himself as their leader. Brolin elaborated:
It's very different. I was in interiorly in the best shape of my life. I could hike miles and miles and miles. I could do a lot. It was like a lot of anaerobic work. I was in great shape. I put myself in a position where I wanted to make sure I was in better shape than anybody out there so I could be in a position to push the people. If I hadn't been, that would've been awful and therefore it's bullshit and it's acting and all that kind of stuff where I think the community that we created, there was a fair amount of reality to it, and they still, when I see them, they call me 'Supe.' They don't call me Josh.
So it sounds like it wasn't just about showing off. In Only the Brave, Josh Brolin plays Eric Marsh (known as "Supe" by the Granite Mountain Hotshots). As the leader of the team, and the most senior member of the Prescott, Arizona wildfire team, Brolin needed to be able to command the respect of the men playing the real firefighters who looked up to the actual Marsh. By taking the initiative to push his physical training longer and harder than the other actors, he seems to think that he made the performance more realistic. As a result of this commitment, Brolin's fellow cast-mates still consider him their leader to this day.
In terms of sheer physical fitness, it also seems that Josh Brolin's preparation for becoming a firefighter was far more functional than a gun-toting badass with a knack for time travel. While many fans have marveled (pun very much intended) at the biceps that Brolin sculpted during the leadup to his performance as Cable, he still asserts that the role of Eric Marsh elevated his physicality to personally unprecedented levels. I guess there's something to be said about putting the weights down and going for a hike now and then.
To hear what Josh Brolin specifically had to say about the physical preparation for Only the Brave, check out a brief snippet from my interview with him during the film's recent press junket.
Josh Brolin will step into the boots of Eric Marsh on the big screen when Only the Brave debuts in theaters this Friday, October 20. In the world of musclebound heroes and villains, Brolin will go on to portray Thanos when Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters next year on May 4, 2018, and then he will play Cable for Deadpool 2 on June 1, 2018.