Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

James Brolin Talks Sweet Tooth, Robert Downey Jr., And Music For The End Of The World - Exclusive Interview

"Sweet Tooth" is defined by many voices: executive producers like Robert Downey Jr and Susan Downey, the writer of the comic book source material, Jeff Lemire, and the stars of the series like Nonso Anozie and Christian Convery. And very specific to "Sweet Tooth" there's one other literal voice of supreme importance — the narrator. Since the series is dealing with a post-apocalyptic world that includes human/animal hybrids and multiple different communities all with their own ways of dealing with a civilization decimated by a pandemic, sometimes the best way to ease viewers into how this world works is with some voiceover. And in order to make that voice over feel affecting and, in many cases, comforting, the team behind "Sweet Tooth" brought in James Brolin. 

In fact, it turns out there's an interesting story behind how Brolin was brought into the world of "Sweet Tooth" that kind of explains how the entire series got made in the first place. Looper sat down with Brolin to talk about why he took on this project, what he loves about it now that he can actually see the whole thing, and what kind of records you want to have at the end of the world.

What does a narrator see when they're narrating?

Now that it's out in the world, how does "Sweet Tooth" match up with what you were imagining as you were narrating it?

I was able to see the clips of what I was narrating only. I was surprised how in depth and how much money they spend on locations, and I guess a lot of the actors were local New Zealanders. Beautiful there, safe there. What a wonderful thing during COVID to be able to feel some freedom in this business because I've been locked up for 15 months now. And you start to venture out and then they say oh no, there's a morph. There's a morph coming after you. And if we have any services on the property, everybody has to wear a mask still, so we're not letting it down. But anyway, through all of that, I just thought they did a ... It's like an eight-hour film to me. That's kind of my answer — and well done. I understand our director has just now got a nice, big, new feature to direct because of it.

How Robert Downey Jr. got James Brolin on Sweet Tooth

Comic book properties are big, but "Sweet Tooth" can still come across as a big sell because it's a weird concept. What did they tell you to make you say yes?

Yeah. Well, Robert Downey Jr. is a weird concept. I've known him for years. He's come from here and there and done some absolutely beautiful work over the years. The early movies of his are just wonderful to re-see. And we've been friends for a while. And we are neighbors. That's most of it and we had lunch one day and then Susan, his wife, is delightful and an effective go-getter producer. And they had this project before COVID. So it's just incidental that it's about a virus.

Do you remember what they said to you about it?

Oh, they didn't say anything at the time. I got a call months later saying we ... He didn't call me directly. It's, "We got a call from Robert, he wants you to narrate, they both do." And that's it. You have no choice. And I went, okay. So I called my rep. I said, "What do you think of this?" And they said, "Well, you know, you've been auditioning for voice stuff forever. Never got anything, why not try it?" And I said, "Yeah, that's what I was thinking." And already, consequently, even before it opened, word got around that I was narrating and I think there was some voiceover in the trailer. And so I've got a big animated movie to do next and it's all kind of snowballing. It's crazy. You never know.

Music for the uninitiated at the end of the world

In Episode 2, Gus is introduced to music for the first time. If you were going to put a record on for someone who has never heard music before, in a weird, crazy time like the one we just went through, what is the one that you'd say someone has to listen to?

Forever? I'm thinking about a young kid. If I was going to excite him when we were getting up, I'd probably play James Brown's "I Feel Good." But any of the good mellow bossa nova, I really love people to be in that kind of mood. I would play that over and over again because I've said it before: If I have a script that I'm about to shoot in a couple of weeks and I just cannot remember a word of it and that'll happen every once in a while, it's like a writer's block, it's a learner's block. And I'll get in the car and I'll just say goodbye, I'm going to Bakersfield for the day, which is minimum four or five hours round trip. And then I'll go for lunch and in the car, I just glance down at my lines. I drive and I get into an alpha state. And by the time I'm back, I'm fine. And it always works.

If only one candy can survive the apocalypse, what is the one that must survive?

Oh yeah, that would have to be chocolate covered almonds.

"Sweet Tooth" is streaming on Netflix now.