April 23, 2014

Interview: Megan Fox and Josh Brolin on bringing ‘Jonah Hex’ to life

By Todd Gilchrist

HollywoodNews.com: Not two weeks ago, Megan Fox was in the news because Michael Bay and the producers of Transformers 3 announced that she wouldn’t be returning for the third and presumably final installment in the series. But the in-demand actress doesn’t seem to be too concerned about losing that gig, especially since she has another potential franchise-launcher opening this week: Jonah Hex, an adaptation of the cult supernatural western comic book series of the same name.

Hollywood News joined journalists in Beverly Hills, Calif., for the Jonah Hex press day, where Fox and her leading man Josh Brolin fielded questions about starting their own franchise. In addition to talking about the challenges of taking on her tough role, the actress reflected on fulfilling the desires and demands of fan boy audiences, and offered some hints about what’s in store for her next.

[Note: Although "Hollywood News" is used to distinguish questions from answers in the text below, our journalist was just one of many reporters asking questions of the filmmakers.]

Hollywood News: Josh, what was it like to create a superhero from scratch, whose reputation didn’t precede him? And Megan, what was it like to get away from those robots?

Josh Brolin: What robots? Oh, that’s a different movie. [This was] stemming from a comic book that has had three lives and that 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 – we’re allowed to.

Megan Fox: I like working on action films, and I like working on movies that are comic book based, or that have this theme, because they’re things I watched or loved as a kid. So it wasn’t really about getting away from the robots, if that’s what you were saying. I enjoyed making both films.

Hollywood News: Megan, having done other action movies in the past, what was more challenging: doing the action scenes in this movie, or squeezing into that corset everyday?

Fox: Actually, there was one gunfight scene that stunts had been choreographing for a couple of weeks, and I had minutes to get it down and rehearse it, and it was really difficult for me to shoot the old-style gunslinger guns, because I have tiny little baby hands, and they’re really large and really heavy, so just the physicality of having to pull that off was really difficult. This was more action-heavy for me, it was more intricate, the action, in this movie, than in previous movies that I’ve done.

Hollywood News: But what about that corset?

Fox: I loved the corset. When I showed up for camera tests, everyone thought I was in pain, or hurting, that something was wrong with me, because my waist was so small, but I enjoyed it, and I wish they’d come back into style.

Hollywood News: Historically, is that what women of the day, or even, women of the night, wore?

Fox: I’m not the person to ask about that, but I would assume so.

Brolin: The question is, how did you like the corset? Trying to project it onto her and pawn it off on her, but it’s really about you.

Hollywood News: We assume too much by looking at your character and how she got there and everything, but did you build this up in your head, and did you come up with any character back story?

Fox: Well, Josh and I had a conversation about what their past relationship could have been, and why she would be so dedicated and so in love with someone who sort of treated her the way that he did, and was not able to love, and we came up with a back story between the two of us, what things had gone on in the past, and why she was so dedicated and loyal to him.

Brolin: It’s a Beauty and the Beast thing, physically, cosmetically. But then, I think the parallel and the kinetic connection is because they’re equally broken. Then there’s also – I mean, I hate saying this, but I will – an older-younger type of thing. I don’t think that’s really true, but it might be.

Hollywood News: Megan, Josh said it’s been a crazy few years for you. How have you handled everything and not gone insane? And Josh, what’s your favorite John Malkovich moment in or on the movie?

Fox: I don’t know. I think I’ve maintained the same relationships that I’ve had before this happened to me, and I kept people close to me that I love and respect, and look out for me and take care of me, and I’ve distanced myself from the Hollywood crowd. I don’t go out and socialize that way. You wouldn’t think it, but I’m sort of oddly very domestic, and I think that keeps me sane. My personal relationships keep me grounded.

Brolin: We were doing the clay fight sequence, me and John, this was fairly early on in the movie. We finished a take, and it was fairly violent. The great thing about John is he’s so in character, but he doesn’t stay in character. So we’ll finish a take, and will be looking at each other, and we’ll be yelling GRRRR!, and they yell cut, and he goes, “So when are you doing the Woody film?” So there was one take that we did, and John says, “Josh, can you come here for a second?” And I said, “Yeah, John, what’s up?” and he says, “Um, can you pull my finger?” And I said, “Seriously?” And he says, “Yeah, just grab my finger, and just pull it.” And I pulled his finger, and I heard a crack, and I go, “Oh f*ck, man. Are you alright?” And he goes, “Yeah, I think you broke it. But I’m fine.” That’s my best John Malkovich.

Hollywood News: Megan, Josh talked about seeing you as rebellious, but in your earlier comment you said you’re more domestic. How do you see yourself, and how does it feel to be 22 and have to deal with all this fame?

Fox: Well, I’m 24 now. Well, you have to be a strong person to survive this kind of fame, because it is very difficult to be under the microscope every moment of every day. Everything that leaves your mouth becomes this sensationalized news story, no matter what your intentions were when you first said it, so it becomes overwhelming. Am I that rebellious? I think there are many sides to me, and my personality, and I think the only thing that is rebellious about me is that I don’t really have a lot of fears as far as this industry is concerned, and I’ll do things that maybe other people are afraid to do, or afraid to say. But in my personal life, I’m actually very responsible with my personal relationships. I’ve always been that way.

Brolin: And rebellion, just to be clear, can mean holding onto some of your own integrity, of not playing into the idea of sensationalism. We all have our moments, and that’s your guys’ job – to take those moments and make them turgid, gaseous, make them big, and it’s bigger than the person is. When you start believing your own press, that’s when it gets really sad. But that’s part of the rebellion that I responded to, because she was still her. She’s still very grounded, very gravelly, which I like.

Hollywood News: A lot of women in Hollywood are beginning to develop their own projects for production companies. Do you see directing soon in your future?

Fox: Definitely not directing. I have absolutely no skill set that would suggest that I would be able to do something like that. But possibly producing I guess at some point, if that. If I were able to, I’d like to get into that, sure.

Hollywood News: What other projects do each of you have lined up? Also, Megan, when you get a character described as a hooker with a heart of gold, what do you say to yourself about making this clichéd character something real or convincing?

Fox: Well, hooker with a heart of gold was not in the character breakdown when I got it, but I felt like it was an amazing opportunity for me to be involved in a project with Josh, and John Malkovich, and Fassbender – with all these incredible actors, who were coming in to make this movie, and I just wanted to be a part of it any way that I could. I don’t really feel like she’s that stereotypical. Perhaps you’re responding to the fact that I’m playing the character, that that sort of makes it stereotypical. But it’s something completely different from anything I’ve done, and no one can accuse me of doing the same thing twice, which I’m proud of. As for future projects, I have a movie with Mickey Rourke hopefully coming out this fall called Passion Play, which I was really excited to work on. It’s an independent right now, and I’m really proud of that, and I had an amazing experience making that movie. It’s sort of a modern film noir, and Mickey’s character is a down on his luck trumpet player and is a heroin addict, and he comes across my character, who is part of a traveling freak show. She has bird wings that sprouted out of her back when she went through puberty, and it’s sort of this very bizarre strange relationship that they have, and it’s very tragic.

Hollywood News: Megan, there’s an inside joke about your character that reveals she is a character from the comics. If this is a big hit, would you be interested in reprising the role?

Fox: Of course. I mean, if that was an opportunity that was presented to me, absolutely. I would love that.

Hollywood News: Josh and Megan, given the existing fan base for the comic, did you feel freedom to take those liberties or did you feel obligated to be faithful to the source material?

Fox: Well, I feel like it’s impossible to really please the hardcore comic book fans, because they’ll never be happy no matter what you do. I go on to Lord of the Rings forums, because I’m a fan, and they’ll complain that Frodo was eating the lembas bread outside of Mordor instead of the mines of Moria, and they get really mad. But Peter Jackson and company won like, thirty-something Oscars for that movie! So you can’t focus completely on pleasing them, because you’ll never win, and then you’re excluding a whole other world of people who weren’t aware of the comic in the first place, so I think you have to take some kind of liberties to make it into a live action film, or it wouldn’t work.

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About Todd Gilchrist

Todd Gilchrist is a Los Angeles-based film critic and entertainment journalist. Over the past decade he worked at a variety of online and print publications, including the Miami New Times, Filmstew.com, SCI FI Wire, and IGN.com, where he wrote reviews, conducted interviews with actors and filmmakers, and edited Movies, DVD and Music content. He currently works for Cinematical.com among other outlets, and has been a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association since 2005.

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