In Gus Van Sant’s Harvey Milk biopic, Milk, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn may play personal and political enemies, but at last night’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards, it was a regular love-in between the actors. Taking the stage to present Brolin with the trophy for Best Supporting Actor, Penn affectionately referred to his co-star as “this bitter actor who took until he was 40 for anyone to know him.” But most of his speech was about Brolin’s striking handsomeness: “His hair is very high tonight,” said Penn with breathy admiration. “I always just wrote him off, as I do handsome, square-jawed actors. And then bit by bit, as he became very old, he started to be celebrated and I started to see these performances. And truly, in an era that was younger leading boys, suddenly there was a leading man. There’s nobody like him. Nobody as big a nightmare as him. Nobody as square-jawed who’s as talented as him. Nobody has as much endurance at night and as little during the day as him. Truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with another actor is working with Josh Brolin.”
Penn continued: “His talent, his wit. He’s well deserving of the encouragement that you’re giving him tonight. And more is coming, if we keep him working and not free at his own will. Really, you’re going to save a life tonight.” Onstage, Brolin returned the professional admiration: “Quite an actor, Sean Penn … Not an asshole like Russell Crowe.” On the red carpet, though, Brolin admitted that he hadn’t been so much amused but rather turned on by Penn’s costume of tight jeans, hippie beard, and seventies ponytail: “He doesn’t make me laugh,” said Brolin, grinning. “He just makes me want to be gay.”
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