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Oscars: Josh Brolin behind the scenes with the Coen brothers

February 18, 2011 |  3:45 pm

Josh brolin 

Josh Brolin wants to direct. In fact, he has just signed on to helm and star in an adaptation of Dominique Cieri’s play “Pitz and Joe,” a gritty sibling drama about the relationship between a young woman and her brain-damaged brother.

So, eager to learn the craft and fascinated by the process, Brolin often visits the Oscar-winning (and currently nominated) Coen brothers when they’re in the throes of editing one of their movies. He has done this on films he’s worked on with them (“True Grit,” “No Country for Old Men”) and others to which he has no connection (“Burn After Reading”), and always the process remains the same.

We’ll let Brolin describe it.

“They have perpendicular desks, Joel at one, Ethan at the other and in between them there’s a bellman’s bell,” Brolin says. “Ethan has his headphones on and he’s getting his best take and he drags it over the screen, never looking at Joel, and, ding, rings the bell. Then Joel, who has the final cut on his screen, drags it down in the timeline. And that’s what they do, every day, eight, 10, 12 hours a day.”

“And I’d sit on a couch and watch,” Brolin continues. “But they don’t like it if I say anything. Even a sound. Like if I see some choice they make and say, ‘Hmmm,’ Joel will get mad. ‘What? Do you not think that’s good?’ ‘I didn’t say anything. I’m just watching.’ ”

“Then one time, Joel looks back because, again, I’ve made some kind of muffled noise. ‘So this is observing. This is what you’re doing, right? Observing.’ ‘Sorry, dude.’ ”

“I mean, it’s a great workshop, but that’s not why I do it. I just love hanging with those guys -- even if it means taking a vow of silence for a couple of weeks.”

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Josh Brolin in "True Grit." Credit: Paramount Pictures