Josh Brolin took a circuitous route to superstardom. The Goonies star came very close to a big break early in his career, only for his good friend Johnny Depp to get it instead. There are no hard feelings; here’s what happened.
Not Always A Megastar
Nowadays, Brolin’s success is beyond the shadow of a doubt. He’s starred in one of the highest critically acclaimed films ever, No Country for Old Men, and is in one of the highest-grossing films ever, Avengers: Endgame. He’s a favorite choice for artistic directors and franchises alike, but this success came fairly recently.
For the first few decades of his career, Brolin was best known for 1985’s The Goonies. The beloved 80s classic was a surprise smash hit, but most of its cast is best known for this film. It took Sean Astin years until he made a bigger film, and folks like Jeff Cohen and Jonathan Ke Huy Quan are still associated with Donner’s masterpiece. Until some big breaks with the Coen Brothers and Tarantino, this was Brolin’s fate as well.
After Goonies, Brolin did as many up-and-coming actors did. He starred in a few failed pilots, took on some theater work, and popped up in some really bad movies. One pilot did go somewhere.
Up Against Depp
21 Jump Street began airing on Fox in 1987, just a few years after The Goonies. Brolin was one of the top choices to play the lead, Officer Tom Hanson. In a 2010 interview with Playboy, Brolin explained: “It came down to Johnny and me…He and I were at his apartment hanging out; our girlfriends were best friends at the time. Johnny had just finished a small part in ‘Platoon’ and was talking about what it meant for him to work for this great director Oliver Stone.”
After a quick call from his agent, Depp suddenly up and left the room. Brolin said, “The next time I saw him I was doing a guest role on the fourth episode of 21 Jump Street.” The show’s success turned Depp into a teen idol, so he turned to indy movies with John Waters and Tim Burton to shake that image. The rest is history.
No Hard Feelings
It’s easy to imagine Brolin being hurt by his friend nabbing the role, but he held no animosity.“I have more respect for that guy than for most people out there because he…has done it his own way. He’s found whatever his niche is, and it’s a big one. What a f**king talent, man. Every movie I watch him in, I just thank God he exists.”
These are very kind words, but the two have yet to work on a film together. With Depp a somewhat toxic figure in Hollywood over domestic abuse allegations at the moment, they may never get the chance. Dune opens this Friday in Theaters and on HBOMax.