All About Josh Brolin’s Parents, James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee

Years before Josh Brolin starred in blockbuster hits like Avengers: Endgame and Sicario, his parents, James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee, were regulars on the Hollywood scene.

The actor and assisting casting director met on the set of Batman in 1966 and married less than two weeks later. The couple were often photographed together at red carpet events, including the 45th Academy Awards and the 29th Golden Globes, the latter for which James was nominated for best actor in a supporting role.

As James’ career caught traction on the small and big screen, Jane dedicated herself to helping wildlife animals at their home in California. Though James and Jane went their separate ways in 1984, they welcomed two sons together, Josh and Jess Brolin.

Tragically, Jane died at age of 55 following a car crash in 1995, and Josh has continued to remember her through the years.

James, who has been married to Barbra Streisand since 1998, told The Saturday Evening Post in 2020 that despite his success — on shows like Marcus Webley, M.D. and Hotel and in films like The Amityville Horror — he may best be remembered as Josh’s dad.

“I watched him through all his ups and downs,” James said. “As a father I was there to catch [him] if he fell. … We’re all just proud.”

Here’s everything to know about Josh Brolin’s relationship with his famous parents, James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee.

James and Jane met on the set of Batman

Jane Cameron Agee and James Brolin at an event in New York City on March 1, 1971.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

Josh’s parents first crossed paths on the set of the 1960s TV series Batman. According to The New York Times, Jane was part of the casting department at Fox at the time.

“My mother, she worked as [an] assisting casting director for the series,” the No Country for Old Men star told David Letterman. “That’s where she met my father.”

James wound up with three parts on the show, appearing in the episodes “The Cat and the Fiddle,” “The Catwoman Goeth” and “Ring Around the Riddler” alongside Joan Collins.

They married in 1966

After meeting at work, James asked her out on a date, and when Jane agreed, she made them a home-cooked meal, according to The New York Times.

“She cooked some chili, and we married 12 days later,” he told the newspaper. “She even made the table we ate on.”

In a different New York Times profile of Josh, he elaborated on Jane not waiting long before taking her relationship with James to the next level.

The outlet reported that she proposed marriage over drinks less than two weeks of knowing each other, saying “‘So, are we going to get married or what?’ ”

James and Jane married in 1966, per Page Six.

James and Jane welcomed 2 children together

Josh Brolin as a child with his parents James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee.

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty

Two years after exchanging their wedding vows, the couple celebrated the arrival of their first child together, son Josh, on Feb. 12, 1968.

“I did all the diapering,” James told PEOPLE Now in 2019. “And if we went out to dinner, [Josh was] right there, under the table.”

The pair expanded their family with their second son, Jess, in 1972.

Josh also has a younger sister: James welcomed daughter Molly Elizabeth Brolin with his second wife Jan Smithers in 1987 following his divorce from Jane, per Newsweek.

They raised their kids in California

Josh Brolin as a child.

Josh Brolin Instagram

Josh and Jess grew up in central California, with the older Brolin brother attending elementary and middle school in Templeton, as reported by The San Luis Obispo Tribune. According to Josh, who spoke to NPR, the family lived on a ranch in nearby Paso Robles.

Before James nabbed his breakthrough role on Marcus Welby, M.D., though, the Golden Globe winner and his wife struggled financially.

“I … remember … that we’d have no money or we’d be staying in a guest house, and I remember [my mom] saying at one point [that] my crib was a dresser drawer,” Josh told NPR’s Fresh Air in 2014 of his upbringing.

He added, “My dad was just kind of doing what he could do for jobs and money and small work.”

By the time Josh was 2, James’ career was on the rise. “I remember people reacting to him,” he recalled. “I don’t think I ever saw it until much, much, much later.”

Jane was passionate about wildlife animals

James Brolin and Jane Cameron Agee at home in Los Angeles, California, circa 1967.

Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Apart from her work behind the scenes in Hollywood, Josh’s mother was also devoted to animals, and she was known as a wildlife activist. Men’s Journal reported that Jane once worked for California’s Department of Fish and Game, where she cared for rescued, illegally owned wild animals.

“She had this uncanny relationship with animals,” Josh said in 2017. “She’d confront these 500-pound silverbacks that would just crumble.”

Animals were a big part of the family’s life: As Josh recounted, Jane ran a “wildlife way station” on the Brolin’s 230-acre ranch in Paso Robles, Calif.

“We grew up with a few wolves,” he told NPR’s Fresh Air in 2014. “I helped birth a lot of mountain lions; we had a lot of bobcats.”

According to Josh, his mother was connected more with animals than humans. “My mom was a good mom, but my mom didn’t deal with people well,” he told USA Today in 2013. “She dealt with animals.”

Josh didn’t understand his father’s job growing up

Josh Brolin with his dad James Brolin.

Josh Brolin Instagram

After witnessing his father struggle to find his footing in the acting world, Josh was disillusioned with pursuing the same career because of its instability.

He told The San Luis Obispo Tribune that he originally planned to become a lawyer — until he had a change of heart as a senior in high school when he took an acting class.

“I was really hit by the idea of improvisation and being able to psychologically get into characters and what that meant,” he explained. “I never knew what (acting) was before that. I thought it was about celebrity. I didn’t realize the sociological and psychological elements of it, which were really fascinating to me.”

James also remembered the moment that things changed for his son, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “He says, ‘Listen, pop. I got three electives possible. … After throwing out suggestions like wood shop and metal work, he proposed, ‘Or there’s this acting class. … And the next thing I know, he’s in the acting class. And here we are years later.”

He added, “For a guy that said, ‘I would never go into your business for anything,’ he’s doing pretty good.”

Josh had a unique relationship with his mom

Josh Brolin and his mom Jane Cameron Agee.

Josh Brolin Instagram

Growing up, Josh “adored” Jane. “I miss her terribly,” he told Men’s Journal of his late mother.

While reflecting, the actor shared that their relationship wasn’t traditional. “She was a different kind of lady,” he said. “She was very extreme, in every kind of way.”

Josh elaborated on “extreme situations” they shared. “Like us drinking in church together … She was a real character. Her maternal force wasn’t typical at all,” he added.

The New York Times reported that Jane, a native Texan, struggled internally. According to the outlet, she once told Josh that she needed “to create obstacles and misery where there didn’t need to be,” with Josh referring to her life as “a very Sam Shepard kind of existence.”

James and Jane divorced when Josh was 16

James Brolin and his mom Jane Cameron Agee attend James Brown in Concert on March 18, 1971.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty 

By the time Josh was a teenager, James and Jane’s relationship was on the rocks. Esquire reported that Josh acted out on the set of The Goonies as a result, giving his on-set teacher a difficult time.

“My mom was going out with a truck driver at the time,” he told the magazine. “My dad was all over the place. They never saw each other.”

The pair eventually called it quits in 1984. Following his parents’ split, Esquire reported that Jane sent Josh, then 16, to live with James in Santa Barbara, where he fell in with a group of kids known as the “Cito Rats.”

“Our parents were off doing whatever. So we all took care of each other,” he told the outlet.

Jane died following a car accident in 1995

Jane died at the age of 55 on Feb. 13, 1995, after crashing her car into a tree.

Speaking to Men’s Journal, Josh recalled his mom’s love of driving and sometimes waking him and his brother Jess in the middle of the night for spontaneous road trips to Texas or Louisiana from their home in California. But he also remembered her speeding while she was behind the wheel.

After Jane’s unexpected death, Josh struggled for a few years, and eventually, he gained a new perspective. Since then, he’s continued to honor her memory, including sharing the mementos he keeps of her.

“There are ceramics all over the house, my mother collected through the years,” he wrote in a 2018 Instagram post.

Josh concluded his caption with the hashtag “#missyoumom.”

James gave Josh acting advice

Josh Brolin and his father James Brolin leave for Aspen, Colorado on March 1, 1993.

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

When Josh decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, James championed his son’s decision.

“He was really supportive,” the Avengers star told The Hollywood Interview. “He was very honest with me about the odds involved.”

Josh revealed that James was transparent about how his last name would affect his career in Hollywood and advised him to make wise choices.

“The only thing he said was to have a backup, because there’s about 1 percent (of actors) who make a living off acting. The odds are not great,” Josh told The San Luis Obispo Tribune in 2014.

James also gave his son a word of advice regarding their shared craft. “I told him one thing a long time ago,” James recounted to PEOPLE. “Don’t be a leading man, ever. Be a character actor and you’ll work forever.”

“[A] leading man has a little time span [to work], he’s in and out,” the Traffic star explained.

Josh is happy for his dad and Barbra

James Brolin, Barbra Streisand and Josh Brolin attend the ‘Jonah Hex’ Los Angeles premiere on June 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California.

Lester Cohen/WireImage

James, who was also married to Jan Smithers from 1986 to 1995, wed his third wife, singer and actress Barbra, on July 1, 1998.

Josh reportedly opened up about his stepmother in an interview with Playboy. “The fact that he got together with her and found this solace is such a coup and so wonderful,” he said. “The guy was so frigging unhappy and lonely.”

He further explained his personal feelings on Barbra, saying, “I love her and I love what they’ve created together. I say thank God for her.”

James is a proud grandpa

Josh Brolin with wife Kathryn Boyd and their daughters.
Josh Brolin Instagram

James has repeatedly praised the parenting skills of his older son, who shares children Trevor and Eden with ex-wife Alice Adair and daughters Westlyn Reign and Chapel Grace with wife Kathryn Boyd.

“My son is the best father I’ve ever known,” James told The Guardian of Josh. “I’ve learned lessons from him but it’s too late for me.”

He elaborated on Josh’s commitment to his fatherly duties to PEOPLE after Chapel’s birth. “He stopped everything and nothing but diapering for three months,” he said.

Now, James is embracing the title of grandfather and enjoys moments with his grandkids whenever he can. In May 2023, he attended Westlyn’s first dance recital and held Chapel during it.

“Grandpa (s) love,” Josh captioned a sweet photo of them on his Instagram Stories.

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