Men are back in black

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am


It's been nearly 10 years since we last saw Mr Jones and Mr Smith put on their black suits and matching black shades as extraterrestrial-fighting agents in the Men in Black sequel. This time in Men in Black 3 they're travelling to the past to complete the trilogy, and they've brought another star to don the iconic suit: Mr Brolin.

Forty years ago, Boris the Animal was captured by Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Now he's escaped and wants payback. So he travels back in time to 1969 to kill K, meaning history has been rewritten, and everyone in 2012, including O (Emma Thompson), the new head of MIB, thinks Agent K has been dead for more than 40 years. Everyone, that is, except his (former) partner Agent J (Will Smith).

Agent J travels back to 1969 to try to save his partner's younger self (Josh Brolin). But once he's there, Agent J can't resist digging up secrets about his typically closed-off and grumpy partner.

'The Men in Black movies are about the relationship between J and K,' Smith says about the iconic role he's played since the original in 1997. 'This movie brings that home - it's about the power and origin of their relationship.'

In order to make the jump to 1969 believable, director Barry Sonnenfeld had to find an actor with not only a physical resemblance to Jones but also the acting chops to portray the character's distinctive voice and mannerisms. It's not easy to represent another actor at another age, but the filmmakers knew Brolin, with his professionalism and dedication, was the perfect choice for the role.

Brolin toiled long and hard to get everything about the role just right. 'I've seen the first film 45 or 50 times - I'm not exaggerating,' says Brolin. 'Tommy's voice has a cadence to it that's very specific to Men in Black - it's very different from the way he speaks in life. I just listened to it and listened to it and listened to it until I started dreaming about it.'

Much of the film was shot sequentially. Jones would come in to the studio and play K in the first act, followed by Brolin doing the second and most of the third. Then in the final week of the shoot, Jones returned to wrap up the character. The end result almost made Sonnenfeld lose the distinction between the two talented actors.

'What I found amazing was that I kept thinking I was directing one actor; the performances were so consistent that it was hard for me to tell where Tommy Lee Jones ended and Josh Brolin began,' explains Sonnenfeld. 'For me, it's not about Tommy playing K or Josh playing K. It's just K.'

MIB 3 opens on Thursday