Josh Brolin,a man of 44 who lives with his second wife, the actor Diane Lane, on a horse ranch in Paso Robles and plays the young Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black 3, owes much of his current fame to an accident of skeletal structure. “There’s no way, looking the way I look, not to try to find a niche for me,” Brolin says. “I have this Easter Island skull,” he says, tapping at it with his thick finger, “and I can see casting directors say, ‘Thank God we have a man. There’s not many left.’” That skull, with its broad brow so often furrowed, square jaw oft clenched, and deep–set eyes always squinting, seems to be custom built to convey the forebearing silence of the American man.
But physiognomy is the source of only half of Brolin’s weathered, wind–bitten looks. The man has lived hard enough to blister paint from the rails. He got his first tattoo, of his initials, on his back at 14. He got his second, his initials in Korean, covering up his first at age 16. But his troubles began when he left Paso. “When I moved down to L.A. after The Goonies, I had this country identity. But what was I supposed to do, walk around in cowboy boots?” One can almost hear the opening riff of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” and see an 18–year–old Brolin strolling down the 405 in a pair of stingray ropers.