Describing the film, producer Akiva Goldsman said, "Jonah Hex is a classic revenge tale with the future of the union hanging in the balance. Jonah Hex has access to the netherworld. He can talk to the dead and is unstoppable, possibly even unkillable, though Turnbull will try. Jonah is a unique hero."
Brolin teamed up with director Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who) and producer Andrew Lazar for a press conference in LA to promote the Warner Bros film. Check out what they had to say about bringing the character to the big screen and about those rumored reshoots.
Josh Brolin, Director Jimmy Hayward and Producer Andrew Lazar Jonah Hex Q&AJosh, obviously you were working off a script and a graphic novel, but what was it like to create a superhero from scratch, whose reputation didn’t precede him?
Josh Brolin: "Stemming from a comic book that has had three lives and wasn’t necessarily very successful, but I loved the idea that it refused to die. So it was a survivalist comic book, but it allowed us to take luxuries and do what we wanted to do as long as we had the blessing of the comic book artists. The core of the characters is there, but we go off on all these different tangents because we’re allowed to."
There’s a lot of contemporary residences in this script; it’s an anti-terrorist movie. Can you talk about bringing modern references to it?
Jimmy Hayward: "As the Quentin Turnbull thing developed, he turned into a secessionist kind of guy. Then we added the dynamite vests, and as we continued to develop it, we weren’t trying to make direct parallels to now. But it’s impossible not to in that he’d be like the first American terrorist. I don’t think we really set out to draw ton of lines to exactly what’s happening now, but it’s kind of difficult because we live in an era of terrorism."
Andrew Lazar: "That evolved. It was the idea of this ultimate revenge, and how can we relate to Turnbull in contemporary terms? I think we did make a decision once we saw the dynamite vest that this is a guy who’s willing to exact terror. The Civil War, bloody as it was, soldiers lined up on either side, and this was a guy who was willing to destroy institutions and innocent people to get exactly what he wanted. I think it’s topical, and makes it a little different than just a regular Civil War/Western film."
Could you comment on the challenges of the makeup and prosthetics, and what it was like dealing with that on a daily basis?
Josh Brolin: "A pain in the ass, because – well, it’s not that we didn’t have the money that we chose to go practical – Lon Chaney being one of my heroes, loving the idea of morphing, and having the opportunity to do that I embrace. It’s kind of the story that Alec Baldwin told before he did The Edge which was out in Alaska with a bear, and Anthony Hopkins, when he was sitting in his nice, really warm apartment in New York, reading these scripts, saying, 'I think this could be cool,” and then smash cut to 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 are 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. And then I walked around with half a mustache and half a beard in New Orleans for three months. Nothing attractive."
"We actually had the eye, which is in the comic book, and I started to get an infection within the hour - and I’m not that dedicated. But to be honest with you, I think – it sounds like bullsh*t, but it’s not – it lent to the curmudgeon-y feel of the character. I couldn’t eat, so we would really – a lot of movies, you’d say, 'I work 14 hours a day,' but really you only work six and the rest you’re in your trailer playing Nintendo the rest of the time. And 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 whole day, and it was 100 degrees. So it was a pain. Would I do it again? Yeah. Because it’s like having a baby. Now I look at the end result and go, 'That’s pretty cool.'"
There’s a number of animated directors that have done computer animated films that are moving into live action films. How does it feel to be at the forefront of that trend?
Jimmy Hayward: "It’s a massive learning experience and a big jump, a big change. I think it’s natural because they go through waves – they bring guys from commercials and music videos, and maybe that’s just what’s happening. Those are big, expensive movies, managing huge groups of people, and I guess it seems like a natural jump. It’s a tricky, difficult one."
It takes a lot to turn a two-dimensional cartoon character into a full-blooded onscreen persona. Can you talk about the casting of Josh and Megan?
Jimmy Hayward: "90% of the great casting choices for this movie go to Josh. Josh was leading the film in the beginning and brought in his friends. That’s the reason why people like Michael Fassbender and Megan and John Malkovich were in the movie, because Josh is friends with them. We picked all kinds of people from around them, but I think his friendships with John and stuff to get them involved with the film helped."
Andrew Lazar: "We actually did get our first choice. Josh Brolin was our first choice for Jonah Hex. We tried several times to get Josh Brolin to do the movie. He turned us down a few times. We just wouldn’t say no, we wore him down."
"As for Megan, the role of Lilah actually has some depth to it as well. It’s not just an action movie, there’s dramatic scenes. We really felt that there’s an edge that Megan has as an actress, that she can play both tough, and that longing, that she wants to get out of her life and connect to Jonah. We thought that it was a great match. And I have to say that Josh actually did have a little bit to do with that casting too. The studio and myself were both thinking of Megan, and I think Josh sent me an email saying, 'I think I have a really good idea who might play Lilah. What do you think of Megan Fox?' and I said, 'Yeah, that’s a really great idea.'"
Josh Brolin: "You know what’s funny though, and it kind of sucks, is you go, 'Guys, there wasn’t that much thought put into it.' And I know what you’re all thinking, but there actually was, because however Megan was perceived, I like the idea of giving somebody, even though this is an absurd, ridiculous, fun escapist film, I like the idea of giving someone the opportunity like somebody gave me in saying, 'Hey, we can go a little further with the acting here.' Even though we made it fun, we did a lot of different takes where she’s crying, where she’s not crying, or there’s somewhat of a dialect there, it’s kind of a generalized, bucolic dialect. But when I read some of these articles that she had done, it showed how acerbic and rebellious she could be. I wanted to see how real that was. When you’re 22 and have that fame, nobody can handle that kind of fame that fast, at 22 years old, and I thought she was handling it very well. So when we met, I just wanted to make sure she was the real deal, a scrapper, and that she could go head to head with John, and that she could hold her own. There’s definitely a truck driver mentality there."