“Amazing,” agrees Bardem.
As they talk, the two actors are sitting at a round table in an otherwise empty Toronto hotel room, smoking cigarettes and tipping the ashes into their empty glasses. It’s the end of a long promotional weekend at the Toronto Film Festival, where No Country had its North American premiere before a rapturous audience a few nights earlier, and the men have evidently enjoyed their time here. Bardem tells a pungent story he asks not be printed out of concern that his agent would “fire” him, while Brolin recounts the fun of a day spent with Sean Penn, Eddie Vedder and Woody Harrelson, who has a small role in No Country as a 10-gallon popinjay murdered by Chigurh.
The pair’s jovial banter makes a surprising contrast to the film, in which their intense performances—a battle between Brolin’s fierce survival instinct and Bardem’s lethal focus—are so seamless as to appear to be typecasting, not acting. The film’s remarkable verisimilitude is even acknowledged by Jones, an eighth-generation Texan whose manner of speech tests the limits of understatement. (And that’s when he chooses to state something at all: Brolin says half jokingly that Jones “doesn’t feel the need to uphold his end of the conversation.”) “I was impressed with Josh Brolin’s use of the language,” Jones says a day earlier in a different hotel’s dining room. “Josh’s character is supposed to be from San Saba, Texas, which is where I was born and where I live. And you could imagine Josh’s character driving around town in his pickup.”