EXCLUSIVE: Josh Brolin talks about playing MGM “fixer” Eddie Mannix in the Coens’ “Hail Caesar!”


Josh Brolin just kills in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” a dark Thomas Pynchon drug culture/generation gap comedy set in 1970. Brolin plays a brutish LA detective named Bigfoot “who has the twinkle of civil rights violation in his eyes,” to paraphrase Pynchon. It opens Friday.

At the end of our interview, talking about “Vice,” I asked Brolin about “Hail Caesar!,” another period piece, this one about Hollywood’s Golden Age and the MGM “Fixer” who made sure all manner of crimes, dalliances and indiscretions never made it into the police blotter or into the newspapers and gossip columns. Brolin plays Eddie Mannix in this dark comedy from the Coen Brothers.

“I was reading ‘The Fixer,’ a book about Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickland. Howard was the PR guy for MGM, and Eddie was Louis B. Mayer’s right hand man, his general manager and the guy who made problems disappear — covered up, swept under the rug.

“FASCINATING. the things that went on that Eddie, my character covered up. Unbelievable things.”

Things like suicides, car accidents, sexual orientation secrets and the like.

“So the movie’s a fun labyrinth that you navigate through this guy’s eyes. He’s in every scene, working and weaving through the (Golden Age) studio system, having to pacify stars in trouble, and cops, trying to cover up all the debauchery that’s going on. This is the Coens’ take on that era and Eddie’s role in it. Reading ‘The Fixer,’ you realize that the minute the movie industry started, all these working class guys went from making a few thousand dollars a year to the equivalent of hundreds of millions a year. That kind of power had to be protected from mistakes and indiscretions. It’s astounding what it created. That kind of power has the money to make problems disappear.

“From 1912-15, to the ’20s and on, amazing scandals were happening all over the place. You think it’s bad today? That’s nothing, compared to what Eddie Mannix and those guys saw and knew and covered up.

“We get to see that world from the Coens’ perspective, and that’s always fun. A great cast (Tilda, Scarlett, Jonah, Channing) , and I get to work with all of them. This thing is going to be worth a chuckle or two when it comes out.

eddie“Eddie could not have survived the age of social media. No way he could have covered up stuff with all these cell phone cameras, all these places for people to sell their gossip.”

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