James Brolin returns to the “Castle” cameras this week in his role as the long-lost papa of sleuthing novelist Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion). At least, that’s what he was expecting to do when we spoke to him late last week. “I’m a little fretting today because we started discussing it and the parameters of it a month ago, and I start shooting heavily — I’ve got a lot of work on Monday and Tuesday and I still don’t have a script,” he told us. “I mean, I’m not going to walk, but I feel like it. This is how you show up on film and look bad and begin to end your career.”
Brolin doesn’t like the last-minute rush of much of TV these days. As he recalls it, back when he rose to fame on the 1969-76 series “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “We would have five scripts all finished and ready, so if there was a snag, we just jumped to another script. Nowadays, they write up to the last minute, cast up to the last minute. I don’t want to work that way. I’d rather hang in Malibu at the beach,” adds the 6’4″ star, who still looks mighty handsome at 73, referring to his seaside digs with wife Barbra Streisand.
Brolin has the Hallmark Movie Channel’s “Christmas With Tucker” (above) debuting this week — and makes it clear he found his work experience there a happy one, and “first class all the way.” He plays the stern but loving grandfather in the adaptation of the popular Greg Kincaid book centered on a young teenaged boy (Gage Munroe) and a Golden Retreiver. Having grown up on “Lassie,” Brolin says he knows a good dog story when he sees one.
He also has a passel of projects of his own in various stages of development, including a series he would produce about a mother who moves her family from New York City to the wilds of Montana. “That’s called ‘New York City Cowboys,’ and I would play the cowboy who is taking care of the ranch, who’s a drinker — if it goes into series. And I’m hoping to direct a movie in the spring about a woman called Ruby McCollum,” he says, referring to the notorious case of an African-American woman at the center of a notorious murder trial in the 1950s. Forced to submit to sex with her white, politically-powerful doctor over a period of years, she finally shot him, “then wound up sentenced to an insane asylum for 20 years.”
Brolin and his producing partner also have a musical for kids, “Standing Ovation,” on Netflix, and he happily reports he has heard of six-year-olds who will watch it four times in a single day.
“I do love this business, and most of the people in it,” he assures. Especially when they’re on time.