Jim Cooper/AP
Benjamin Svetkey
May 11, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

After supporting turns in American Gangster and No Country for Old Men, Josh Brolin, 40, is about to take center stage, graying his hair and wearing a prosthetic nose tip to play George W. Bush in Oliver Stone’s new biopic, W (read EW’s cover story about the already controversial movie). The 40-year-old actor recently let EW.com know how he’s getting into the spirit of the role.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, how is the Bush voice coming along? Have you mastered it yet?
JOSH BROLIN: Maybe. I don’t know. There are times when I think I got it and times when I go, ”Is it not enough? Is it too much? Is it coming from the diaphragm? Is it coming from my head? Is it too breathy?” I do a lot of impressions — that’s my humor — but I never did Bush before. I’m talking to myself all day long. Sometimes I’ll call hotels in Texas and talk to the people at the front desk just to listen to their accents.

As an actor, what are you looking for in the character?
The humanness. I’m not one of those guys who feel you have to like the character in order to play him. I’m a Democrat, but not a partisan Democrat. I like listening to everybody. I’m reading Conscious of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater. I’m reading a book about Steven McQueen because he reminds me a bit of Bush.

Steve McQueen reminds you of Bush?
When I think of Steve McQueen, I think, ”Yeah, Bush.” When I think of James Dean, I go, ”No, not necessarily.”

From the script we’ve seen, W could turn out to be a comedy or a tragedy. Do you know what’s the tone going to be?
I think Oliver wants to make it electric, to make it interesting. There is tragedy, there is drama, there is comedy. There is comedy to a ridiculous extent. I don’t know what Oliver is going to decide in the editing room. No matter what I do when we shoot it — if I call Karl Rove ”Turdblossom” and roll my eyes in one take, or if I say ”Turdblossom” and look at something on my shoe — he’s going to decide which one works in the editing room.

Are you prepared for the controversy this movie is going to generate?
[The script is] accurate from what we’ve read. But there’s no way to be entirely accurate because we weren’t there. It’s our perception of other people’s perceptions pilfered through books and made into drama. There’s no getting it ”right.” There are people who will hate this movie and people who will love it. But people will be talking about it.

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