NEW YORK — Combine one part silver fox, one part distinguished actor and one part devoted husband of Barbra Streisand.
Toss in the natural-born gravitas of a president or network news anchor, and what do you get?
James Brolin, all 6 feet 4 inches of him.
Considering his classy image, Brolin's fans – many of them fawning females – might be in for a bit of a shock after catching his latest comedy, "The Goods."
The 69-year-old actor portrays the owner of a used-car dealership that has fallen on hard times. His character, Ben Selleck, has little choice but to recruit a team of rogue car salesmen led by Jeremy Piven, whose duty is selling cars and saving lots.
Like Brolin, Ben has a calm and collected facade. But unexpected laughs arise when he develops an affinity with one of Piven's colleagues. One scene is so raunchy, it can't be repeated here.
"I'm always stuck in the more straight roles, you know," Brolin said in a recent interview. "Of course, every time you do it, it sets in concrete for the next role. `Oh, I saw him in that, he's really good at that.' ... But that's what I did the last 10 times. What about doing some bizarre, offbeat stuff?"
"The Goods," a Paramount Vantage release, opened Friday. Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the film lowers the bar on political correctness and aims squarely at a young male audience – or anyone who thinks it's funny watching a 30-something sex pot (actress Kathryn Hahn) in hot pursuit of a 10-year-old boy with a growth disorder that makes him look decades older. Besides Hahn, the movie also co-stars Ving Rhames, Ed Helms and Ferrell in a cameo.
As it happens, Brolin was the filmmakers' first choice for the part of Ben; the actor, whose long list of credits includes "Catch Me If You Can," "Traffic" and Ronald Reagan in the TV movie "The Reagans," wanted to add another comedic role to his resume.
"It was constant comedy in my family, and yet in my work following that, there was no comedy at all," he said. "And now to be in this, around a bunch of groomed comedians, was really great in opening me up in public ... and starting to be a little off the wall. I want to do more. I only hope this opens the doors to that before I conclude my career."
Brolin – an Internet junkie who frequently e-mails and texts his brother the wacky and tacky things he sees online – wasn't intimidated by the comic backgrounds of Piven and the other actors. "In fact, I felt, like, `OK, Jim, open up, you got a lot of things that you can contribute to this, even though comedy is their business. You can make it your business now, too, you know,'" he said.
He said Streisand didn't know much about his role but when he brought her to a screening, she "was laughing the loudest of anybody in the room."
Do they share the same sense of humor?
"Not at all. ... She laughs much more than I do," he said. "I find her laughing overtly much more than I do. I have a lot of giggles going on inside and people don't know about it."