Gangster Squad's Josh Brolin Talks Film's "Sensitivity" to Shootings in Aurora and Newton

Actor muses on the place of movie violence in society in light of recent violent gun incidents

By John Boone Dec 16, 2012 4:30 PMTags
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Gangster Squad is a violent movie. But that should come as no surprise, given the title alone. Gangsters aren't pacifists, after all.

Still, no one could have predicted that one sequence, which featured gangsters shooting up a movie theater, would echo so true to real life after the Dark Knight Rises massacre. And now, as the film prepares to debut on Jan. 11, another gun-related tragedy is front and center in the form of the Newton school shooting.

"The reality is two actors like living this childlike existence. And it's kind of fun but at the same time it's very serious," star Josh Brolin explained at the film's L.A. press junket Saturday when asked about one gun-heavy scene in the film featuring him and costar Ryan Gosling. "We've had a lot of things come up lately that make it very serious."

On the nature of gun violence within the movie, he explained, "When you're doing something like that, you're lending to the story that you already decided to do, so it's not something like, 'How do we treat this in a way that may be more respectful than not?' You've already decided to do that type of film. It was a lot of fun doing it but at the same time, for a guy who doesn't have any guns myself...I get a little nervous during that thing.

"Of course there's a sensitivity. But you have to look at the grand scheme of things, from a universal standpoint," he continued. "You have video games, you have psychopharmaceuticals, you have the lowest employment, you have parents that aren't at home. There's many, many different factors. You have CNN, which gloms onto the worst of what's going on and not necessarily the best. There are many different factors, there's no one reason. There's always been violence in movies and there always will be violence in movies. And whether it lends to the one psychotic who's out there and thinking the worst thoughts you can possibly think will always be a mystery."

Director Ruben Fleischer also weighed in, "The Aurora shooting was an unspeakable tragedy and out of respect for the families of the victims, we felt it necessary to reshoot that sequence."

The movie theater sequence was cut from the film, the film's release date was postponed and the scene was moved to the streets of Chinatown during reshoots.

"I'm proud of the fact that we did that and I think that we didn't compromise the film," Fleisher told reporters. "I think that we should all respect the tragedy and not draw associations to our film as a result of any of these types of tragedies."

Plus, as Ruben himself says, this is a movie about heroes, not villains. "I think this movie is about people who are standing up for their beliefs," he said. "And trying to do what's right."