Liberal actor James Brolin: I heart Reagan

Star of 2003 miniseries 'Reagans' talks exclusively to THR

Seven years after playing Ronald Reagan in a miniseries detractors say maligned the 40th president, James Brolin is setting the record straight.

"I thought he was a terrific guy and he was a terrific leader of the Screen Actors Guild, and he was a good governor," Brolin said of Reagan.

Brolin said he was encouraged to speak his political mind because he objected to Mark Joseph, co-producer of an upcoming feature film about Reagan, telling THR on Tuesday that Brolin "loathes" Reagan. He also believes the Showtime miniseries "The Reagans" has been mischaracterized as a hit piece on the former president.

Brolin, who has a politically liberal reputation like his wife, Barbra Streisand, says he even voted for Reagan for president once.

What kind of a job does Brolin think Reagan did?

"Look at the results. He's such an Americana attribute. He's literally our best icon in recent years. He represented America quite well. There were some clandestine things going down, but for the most part I think he was a good president."

Brolin says his distaste for Reagan is urban legend. "Most of what you see in print is copying what somebody else said."

But certainly radio interviews where he says things like, "This guy's weird," when talking about Reagan doesn't help matters.

Nevertheless, the actor is adamant in his admiration for Reagan.

"I met him on a couple of occasions. I really liked him. He was a very, very astute guy. Right on top of things. And a terrific writer."

Why has it taken so long for him to go on the record about his warm regard for a conservative icon?

"I tried many times. Nobody wants to write it," he said.

Brolin also defends the controversial 2003 miniseries that, according to a THR review at the time, portrayed Reagan as "a shallow thinker, indecisive, lost in the past and easily manipulated."

Brolin, though, says he portrayed Reagan in "a very realistic and positive light." The performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie.

"What was nice afterwards were people who said, 'you know I never really liked Reagan' -- there are those people out there -- 'until I saw your film and then I liked him'," Brolin said.
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