No Country for Old Men Almost Starred Heath Ledger in the Josh Brolin Role

No Country for Old Men helped make Josh Brolin famous on a whole other level. However, the Coen Brothers’ dark crime-thriller almost didn’t go to Brolin – it almost went to The Dark Knight star Heath Ledger! Brolin confirmed the interesting piece of Hollywood trivia in a new interview he was doing on Dax Shepard’s podcast. The actor is currently starring in the sci-fi western mystery-thriller series The Outer Range on Prime Video; that series definitely has vibes that are in tune with No Country for Old Men, hence the walk down memory lane.

As Josh Brolin explains, Heath Ledger was the Coen Brothers’ first choice to play the role of Lleweln Moss, the Texas welder who goes out hunting on the prairie and ends up getting sucked into the dark world of drug cartels and hitmen. However, as the Thanos actor explains, Ledger was at a place in his life (becoming a new dad, career fatigue) where he didn’t feel up to talking the role:

“I know they were really frustrated and they were looking everywhere,” Brolin said on Armchair Expert podcast. “I don’t know if you knew this, but Heath Ledger was supposed to do that role. It wasn’t that he died, he pulled out of the role. He was like, ‘I don’t want to work right now.'”

As stated, the role of the mumble-mouth country guy battling almost supernaturally evil hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) was a great fit for the steely-jawed Brolin and helped catapult his career. That said, it’s not hard to imagine why the Coens were looking at Ledger for the role: the actor’s performance in Marc Forster’s Monster Ball (as a mumble-mouthed prison guard) and Brokeback Mountain (mumble-mouth LGBTQ cowboy) were all good endorsements of what Ledger would have done in the role. It’s also hard not to think about what would’ve happened if No Country for Old Men had kept Ledger out of the Joker role…


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Here’s the synopsis for No Country for Old Men – which you should def watch if you haven’t.

In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart.