Feature

Brolin’s wild mother

Josh Brolin, the son of actor James Brolin, was shaped by his crazy mother.

Josh Brolin was shaped by his crazy mother, said Erik Hedegaard in Men’s Journal. His father, James Brolin, was a successful actor, but his mother, Jane, a “5-foot-2 Texan with the voice of a bullfrog,” dominated her son’s early life. “She was a hard lady,” he says. “She was like, ‘We’re here a short time, so let’s do it.’”Among the things she did was to take in wild animals seized from private, illegal zoos, and require her young children to help care for cheetahs, tigers, mountain lions, and a bear. “She had this uncanny relationship with animals. She’d confront these 500-pound silverback [gorillas] that would just crumble.” To pay the bills, his mom became embroiled in crooked business deals. “She was involved in a pyramid scheme. The people who lost money in the scheme put her on a hit list. She kept a 9 mm on her bedside table.” Jane made her contempt clear whenever young Josh felt frightened or unsure of himself, which was often. “I adored her. [But] her love for me was hugely, hugely conditional.” He remembers her as most pleased with him the day she found him in a jail cell for punching some cops during a bar fight. She died in a car crash on his 27th birthday, leaving him bereft, before he slowly realized he’d been playing an angry rebel to win her love. “After that, I didn’t have to live up to that anymore. I was liberated.”

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