by Josh Grossberg | Sat., May. 15, 2010 7:53 AM
Oh, the things we learn at Cannes. Turning up Saturday for the out-of-competition premiere of Woody Allen's new film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, stars Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts waxed philosophically about romance, getting older, and meeting the Grim Reaper.
About what you'd expect from a Woody Allen movie.
But what we didn't expect was the revelation from the W. thesp that he had become so frustrated with his chosen profession and the roles he was playing, that he temporarily gave it up for a few years to do some...gardening?
"I realized [movies] could be better," Brolin tells E! News. "There was one point where I was doing films that I didn't care for so much, not that I felt like I was better than the film at all. But I would see the film and it wasn't gratifying to me. So I stopped doing that. I started landscaping for awhile."
And he also revealed launching a side career that would undoubtedly help him in preparing for another movie he's also appearing in here at Cannes, Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
Adds Brolin: "Then I got into day-trading. And I was day-trading for three-and-a-half years out of necessity, money. Then things changed I guess with the Coen Brothers.
2007's No Country For Old Men followed by Stone's presidential biopic, W., catapulted the 42-year-old hunk out of B-Movie purgatory into leading man territory, opening the door to collaborations with some of America's most revered filmmakers, among them Allen, who cast him in as the romantic lead opposite Watts in Stranger.
"What's great about [Woody] is he's honest about his personality and he's constantly putting together people to create a new chemistry in his films and it becomes very familial," he told E! News. "There's a real humble pride that I have in working with these guys to tell stories. It's their lifeline, it's their food, it's their nourishment and I like to be around that."
Serge Haouzi/Maxppp/ZUMA Press
The flick, which also stars Antonio Banderas, Frieda Pinto, Lucy Punch and Anthony Hopkins, tells the humorous tale of a group of couples whose passions, anxieties and ambitions lead to affairs of the heart and deceptions that get them into trouble—Allen's Modus Operandi.
Watts, whose character ends up tangling with a fortune teller in Stranger, admitted that she's dabbled in the psychic world herself a little now and then but is not really a big believer.
"I have seen them in various periods of my life, usually when I'm miserable. If you've gone through a heartbreak, you want to know if there's gonna be another love or you've lost someone," she said.
As for Allen, he doesn't have much use for fortune tellers, except as a narrative device, nor aging for that matter, which is why we haven't seen him acting much lately.
"For years I played the romantic lead and then I couldn't play them anymore because I got too old to play it. It was no fun just not playing the guy who gets the girl. So unless I can think of some way to do it, no," the inimitable director said. "You can imagine how frustrating it is when I do these movies for Scarlett Johansson and Naomi Watts, the other guys get them. And I'm the director. That old guy over there is the director. I don't like that. I like to be the one who sits opposite them at the restaurant who looks in their eyes and lies to them. If I can't do that, it's not that much fun to play in my movies."
Allen remains fatalistic as always, a worldview that is embodied by the characters Brolin and Watts play. But that doesn't mean he's ready to meet a Tall Dark Stranger himself.
"My relationship with death is the same. I'm strongly against it," he quipped. "All I can do is write."