Pierce Brosnan on How It All Began—and How Bond Ended BY MICHAEL HAINEY
Pierce Brosnan is older now, sixty-one. He stopped playing James Bond twelve years ago. Not entirely of his own choosing. That was with Die Another Day.
But he's still vital and vibrant. Still strikingly handsome, too. When I meet him, he's sitting alone, quiet, at a round hotel in the back of an empty restaurant at the SoHo Mondrian Hotel. Just a cell phone before him. Almost like a spy waiting for a drop. He's come to New York to talk about his new movie, The November Man, in which he plays an aging intelligence agent.
GQ: Take me back to the beginning of your life. My life started on the banks of the Boyne in County Meath. Navan is the name of the town; only me, Mom, Dad. Dad ran to the hills; never saw him 'til I was thirty-one. Mother looked after me and took off to London to be a nurse, to get out of the repression of Catholic-shaming and upbringing. She went to the new land to start a life for me, and consequently there was a separation there.
I was with my grandparents and then they died; one after the other, more or less, and then I was with an aunt, Aunt Rosie, and then I lived with her, but they were starting a family, and they couldn't look after me. And then I lived with Uncle Phil. And they were both starting families, so I finally lived with a wonderful lady called Eileen Reilly. She had a lodging house. I lived in a little room with the lodgers until I was about eleven.
What's your memory of that room? It was a scrubbed floor—she used to scrub with a big bucket of hot, scalding water, and she'd scrub all the floors. Wood. Three beds. My bed was down by the window; I had a little green curtain around it with newspapers tacked on with safety pins so the light wouldn't get in. And it was happiness; it was joy. I served Mass; I loved serving Mass. It was probably my first encounter in giving performance. There was a beautiful church where I lived in Navan, taught by the Christian brothers: fierce, angry men, repressed. And yet, I had a good life. But, you know, life got sweeter when I rejoined my mother and went to London.
When you look back at that time in your life, what are the lessons you learned about yourself then that you still carry? That I'm a survivor. That I can dream well. That I can work hard. That I have some kind of faith that keeps me in check, keeps me grounded in life. And just really good fortune to have traveled through the fair and still be at the table, so to speak.
Were you lonely back then? Yes, well, when you say it and you put it on the page, it can have a certain aloneness to it. Very much a loner. Very much an outsider, in some respects, because in the fifties, a broken marriage like I was part of, was really frowned upon. You were made to feel ashamed. And so, my grandparents lived on the other side of the bridge. And then when they passed on, I moved into the neighborhood, and people talked and gossiped. So you felt different. And then of course, going to London, an Irish immigrant, you were made to feel your Irishness. They never let you forget that you were Irish. They wouldn't say my name; couldn't say my name, Pierce. Didn't want to say my name. So they called me "Irish," which I wore as a badge of honor and an emblem of joy, that I had such a name. And so—and then, go to America. You're an immigrant again; you have to fit it. But then, when I got off the plane, thirty years ago in Los Angeles, I felt lucky and was lucky and just felt at home. I loved America, embraced America. I could be anything I wanted to be.
Did you seek out a mentor— No, I had no one. There was no one. My grandfather was the hand that I held; he was the man that I did adore. But then he went pretty quickly. And then the rest was—there was no father figure. Until I got to London at age eleven, and then my step-father—Bill Carmichael, a lovely man, Glaswegian—he became definitely a figure. Somebody who was kind and loving. But I think when I got to London, too, the movies took over my life in such a glorious way, and the celebration of cinema was immediate and romantic—and I could escape, and did.
What year was that? '64.
And what were those movies? Goldfinger: Sean Connery, James Bond. I was as green as the leaves on the tree, and I'd never seen a naked woman. I was fresh-faced, Irish-Catholic, and happy. Happy to be in London. And that movie—that first weekend in London in the summer of '64—was Goldfinger. My mother and father took me to see it, and it was just bedazzling. And consequently, I went every weekend to see the pictures. And I saw Lawrence of Arabia—I didn't know what was going on, but the spectacle of Peter O'Toole was mesmerizing. And then I really got into my stride with Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty and Al Pacino and movies and movies. And just wanting to be up on the silver screen. I had some kind of naïve aspiration to be a film star.
At no point, in my teens, did I ever, ever think I was going to end up where I am. I wanted to be an artist; I left school at fifteen with a cardboard folder of drawings and paintings, and those were my credentials, nothing more. But I had good sense and good intuition, and I knew that I didn't have the education but I wanted artistic life, creative life, and got a job at a studio doing furniture illustration. And one day, hanging my coat up, talking to Allen Porter from the photographic department—who was kind of a geek, cool—and talking about movies, he said, "You should come along to the Oval House Theatre. It's an arts lab, and they do workshops." I said, "What do you mean, workshops? You mean, like, carpentry and stuff?" He said, "No, workshops. Theater workshops." I said, "OK." So I went along that Tuesday night, hair down to my shoulders, eighteen years of age by now, little goatee, earring—and I walked in the doors and never looked back. It was at the height of experimental theater, and I went along Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, then every day of the week, and then eventually gave up my job and started on the road to being an actor.
Where do you think that spark—did someone spark it in you? I think I sparked it in myself. I felt different; I knew I didn't belong in the world of regular life. Not that I was better, but that I just had a strong sense of dreaming.
Does this go back to when you were five, six, seven? It probably goes back to being alone and being in the countryside and religion. It goes back to, when you do the stations of the cross as a young boy, and you're holding the rosary beads and you're standing in front of pictures—huge paintings that depict the life of Christ and the road to Golgotha—that kind of stays with you. There's some big drama.
My mother would come home as often as she could, and she always brought me the best presents that none of the other boys in this country town had. And one of them was a little slide projector of four frames—no one knows this story; I haven't even told this story—and it was Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Pluto. And that was where I learned how to read: their little speech-bubbles. And so in Eileen's house, in that little bed with the green curtain and the newspapers pinned on, at night, I would shine that light up on the ceiling and watch Mickey and kind of take control over the pictures. Again, I didn't want to be an actor, but it just sparked my imagination.
So to hop on the tube that night and go to the Oval House—I don't know where that came from. It came from possibilities—that I could do movies? No. I just craved, desired, and felt the need to get out of a working-class situation which was meaningless to me. I didn't want to be a plumber, a decorator, or painter and decorator, or an electrician. I had no desire for that; I just didn't see myself doing it. But I thought if I could be a painter—if I could be an artist.... I was good at writing and creating stories, but I didn't have the credentials to be a journalist. But I had a cardboard folder, which was my passport to this life, and some kind of burning passion, want, need, to be loved—to be liked. And acting gave me that. Performance gave me those feelings.
Do you think it gave you those feelings out of the ability to create an identity, a character that people then responded to? I think so, yes. When I found—because the love of movies was so palpable, and I just adored the cinema. It was a refuge; it was a sanctuary. So then when I was given the opportunity that night to go to the Oval House, I didn't know what to expect. I thought they were going to be asking me to read Shakespeare. But it was this big, dark, empty room, and we were all asked to lie on the floor and hum. "Close your eyes and hum and then get up slowly and go around—keep your eyes closed—and touch people." It was mind-blowing. It was frickin' awesome. And there were beautiful girls there, and these crazy people, these kind of poets and jazz musicians and the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers! So I felt I'd found my tribe. I'd found my people. And I embraced that world; it just freed my imagination. And all this Pink Floyd music—I was always into music—and then I began to read: Huxley, Sartre. And I've been catching up ever since.
Was there a moment, onstage, when you first felt you had grabbed the third rail— We did a performance of The Little Prince at Suffolk Cathedral. That was my first time on a stage. It wasn't a conventional stage, but it was a stage. It was an empty space, and it was a brilliant, holy space. The Suffolk Cathedral. We'd rehearsed this—and I think I was something like eighteen—and I played the little prince in this kind of experimental stage-production.
Earlier, in talking about your childhood in the boarding house run by Eileen, you mentioned specifically "a green curtain." Tell me about that curtain. The green curtain. Oh, God bless her, Eileen. Well, because the room had lodgers—she had these lodgers, working men who would come up from the countryside to work in town—there were three beds. And it was just a little kind of wrought-iron bed with a horsehair mattress and a green, shiny curtain around it. And she would pin the newspapers to it so the light wouldn't come through. And that was my room; that was my bed for a number of years. And they were really happy times, because she had a son and a daughter, and for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by a family that was really loving and fun. And it was in a place called St. Finian's Terrace. And very poor, and yet alive with humanity. And Eileen had a dog named Chip, and Chip became my dog, and I suddenly had friends. Whereas, when I lived across the river, there was no one there. There was just the house, the little bungalow. And the friends there were nuns; I used to go down to the convent and help make butter with the nuns, milk the cows.... That was another side of life. And my grandmother used to give the field to the Crutchee family—there was a woman called Old Ma Crutchee and she had two sons; they were tinkers—and they were my friends when I was on that side of the river. They were amazing. And she was incredible; she had the horse and the cart, a beautiful old wagon that she painted, and the boys would go into the woods; they made the best bow-and-arrows, they made great catapults in a tube of tires, catch frogs, catch fish. So I had the tinkers over here, and the nuns, and then I went into the town and had all the lads up in St. Finian's Terrace, who were a great tribe of kids. But the bed, the curtain—that sounds lonely, but it was heavenly. I was very comfortable.
Well, I think you make the best with what you've got, you know? Sometimes you have very little. And you just always try to rise to higher ground, because you're going to suffer one way or the other, so you just hope that you have strength and perseverance and good friends and faith, some kind of faith, to endure and move on to greener pastures. I don't know. I don't know. I love what I do as an actor. The life of an actor, it's been great to me. America, you know, was my savior. Came here thirty years ago, got off the plane, felt lucky, was lucky. I managed to stay employed. Ever since, I've always had.... You know, "What am I going to do?" "How am I going to make a living?" "How am I going to get by?"—and I've managed it.
Is there anything in your possession from those years ago that still means something to you? There are boxing gloves. My mother gave me boxing gloves; I wanted boxing gloves. I liked to box. So I still have them. They're still in my bookcase, very old, tattered, and they were cherished. When I got them that Christmas, my grandmother was dying; I was living in Kells. My mother couldn't come home that Christmas because she had to work as a nurse. But the boxing gloves were a brilliant distraction from the pain in the heart.
Do you look at them every day? Oh, I look at them. I see them. They're there. Just: the gloves are on; the gloves are off. In November Man, the gloves are off. It's like, "Come on; let's shake it up, here." Because when the curtain fell unexpectedly on James Bond and, to my surprise, there was this kind of void that was left: this itch of unfinished business. And so that's where November Man came from. I wanted to create an action hero character. I could do all the things that I didn't get to do in Bond, so to speak. Because when I played Bond, it'd been dormant for six years; it was a huge undertaking on the part of everyone involved to get it right. And so I was kind of caught somewhere in between the Roger Moore and the Sean Connery of it all. And both men, I adored as James Bond. But it never felt—I don't know—real. I felt like I was in a period-piece sometimes.
When you were doing it, it never felt real? When I was doing it, yes. Because I could hear echoes or sensations of Connery or of Roger, which I didn't try to censor; I'd just allow them to come in. But I never.... Anyway, they were successful, and in doing the GoldenEye, that was the ticket and the key into creating my own company, Irish DreamTime.
Would you change anything about those performances? No. I don't allow myself. I haven't gone over that terrain, really. All I know is that GoldenEye came out and it was a wonderful film; I think it still stands up, there. I haven't seen it in a long time, but...
Are there hurts that have shaped you? Personally or professionally? Oh, yeah, yeah, there are numerous blows to the heart, the psyche, and the spirit. And Bond figures significantly in some of those disappointments.
When it ended? But more than anything, it is the gift that keeps giving, and it was just a really incredible decade of life. You know, when it happened and it didn't happen and then it happened and it didn't happen, you know, it always came in and out of my life with great trauma. In 1986, Remington got canceled, they offered me the movie James Bond, and then I couldn't get out of the contract, and they played it out until the sixtieth day. They had sixty days in which to resell the show, and I was assured that everything was going to be just fine, but it wasn't. And on the sixtieth day as I was walking out to the beach with a bottle of Cristal Champagne to my late wife, the phone rang and I thought, "Hmm, better answer it." It was Fred Specktor, my agent, saying, "The deal's fallen through. It's not gonna happen." Because Cubby [Broccoli; the film producer who owned the Bond franchise] had said to them, "Look, it happened for six episodes. Then no more; then he's mine." And the network came back on the sixtieth day on the eleventh hour and said, "We want the option of twenty-two." And Cubby said, "No way. Deal's off." And that was it. So that was a blow.
How do you navigate that? How do you not let that crush you? Well, your mind works fast, you know? You take the blow and you move on.
Some people don't. Well, you know: the gloves are on, the gloves are off. You take the blow, you've got to come in with the next blow. You've got to think ahead of the game, you've got to jump ahead and say, "OK, I've lost it. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. But I'm gonna work. I know how to work. I know how to work." As I'm walking out with a bottle of champagne, about to tell my wife it ain't happening. And we had relocated our children to school in England; I mean, we had moved, in our minds, out of L.A.
You'd made moves. It's all going according to plan: I've come to America, beautiful hit show, respected show, it gets canceled, and now I go off and become an international movie star. This is just the way it should go. But it wasn't meant to be. So in those awful heartbeat moments, you just think ahead. And you get on with work. And I think the next thing I did was a miniseries called Noble House. I read it, I liked it, the price was good; I went straight to work. Straight to work. Kept working. And then it came back around, and then I did my full contract, which was for four movies; they invited me back, and I remember distinctly being in the beach house in Malibu and the phone rang, and Michael and Barbara [Cubby's heirs] said, "We'd love you to do the fifth." And I said, "I'd love to." I put the phone down; I said to my wife, Keeley, I said, "OK. Go build your dream-house. Because I'm doing a movie. They've just invited me back." And then I went off to do a movie in that interim time, After the Sunset, and one day I was going out onto the set, and the phone rang, and it was my agent, and they said, "Listen. They've started negotiations on the film." I said, "OK, what does that mean?" He says, "Well, they don't want to negotiate anymore. They'll call you next Thursday." I said, "OK." So I waited a whole week, and then the next Thursday came, and I was in the Bahamas—I think I was staying at Richard Harris's house with Richard and his family; there's an interconnectedness there. And Michael and Barbara said they'd rethought the character and were putting it on hold and we said goodbye. And that was it. Alright. You were a good Bond. So that's how it went down that time. And that certainly dug into the solar plexus of life, just because it was pretty gut-wrenching and because it had been somewhat heralded that I was coming back. So, it's just business. And you're the one caught in the crosshairs. And, you know, my press agent at the time said, "You should resign. You should resign." And I said, "No, I don't want to do that, because that's a lie. It's a lie onto myself; it's their decision. Let it be their decision, and however you want to look at it, however it will be defined, then let it find its own course." So you get on and you work. You just get back in the ring, and try to define yourself and not let there be angst over it. Head up, shoulders back. So yeah, there's those kind of blows. And then it's well-documented: the loss of my wife and my daughter. Those are deep. Those leave you rudderless, adrift, and gasping for air, that pain.
What do you believe? What do I believe? I believe in God. I believe in my God; I believe in the God in myself; I believe in myself as a man, as an actor. It gets tested and tried often, and sometimes I lose the way. But I believe in my children.
Are there words you live by? Are there words? Just "Be kind." "Be good." "Do good things."
Well, kindness. Kindness, I think, goes along way. Being kind to yourself and being kind to others. Give it away. Just give it away; all that's not given is lost. So that's as good as it gets.
Did you ever see your father again after he left the family? I did meet him, in the end. I met Tom. I met Tom Brosnan. He came to visit me when I was Remington Steele. Came out of the woods looking for me. It was kind of too late, really. Too late. We sat and had a cup of tea. It was on a Sunday. Talked about this and that, and downstairs, I met a few first cousins who I didn't know, had pints of Guinness and he got on the minibus and drove away and...
That was it? That was it. Ah, well. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Last Edit: Aug 22, 2014 15:35:48 GMT -5 by eaz35173
November Man: Pierce Brosnan on Quentin Tarantino’s Casino Royale
Pierce Brosnan says he’d rather do The ExpendaBelles than The Expendables 4 and relives his six-martini meeting with Quentin Tarantino about Casino Royale.
August 25th, 2014 Fred Topel
We got close to landing a one on one with Pierce Brosnan, star of The November Man. Brosnan agreed to do a series of paired interviews with journalists, and many of our colleagues participated. We were paired with the San Diego Reader and agreed to identify each other’s questions so we can bring you the entire interview and maintain the flow of the conversation.
Brosnan returns to the spy genre in the film based on Bill Granger’s book There Are No Spies. He plays Peter Devereaux, a retired spy brought back for one more mission, which goes about as well for him as all final missions do. Devereaux may return as Relativity is already planning November Man 2 which we didn’t know about last weekend. A few mild spoilers for Peter Devereaux’s antics follow, and major spoilers for Tailor of Panama if you haven’t seen that yet. We also got Brosnan to confirm his interest in Expendables 4 and tell the story of his meeting with Quentin Tarantino.
CraveOnline: You’d toyed with the spy genre in films like The Tailor of Panama and The Matador. Was November Man another opportunity to do that?
Pierce Brosnan: Somewhat, yes. I kind of relate it to someone like Monet painting haystacks over and over again. You find a subject that turns you on, that engages you. The spy genre is something which, as a fan of movies, a movie geek myself, I just love that cinematic joy that they bring.
San Diego Reader: Do you still go to movies in theaters? If so, who selects the movie, you or your wife?
There’s a duality there. I try to go. I’ve been working so hard the last two years, more or less back to back, so it’s difficult to get to the movies. It depends. I don’t really think about it actually. Sometimes Keely wants to see a movie, she really wants to go see Marigold Hotel and I go along.
CraveOnline: There’s already a sequel to that coming out.
I was going to do the sequel but I couldn’t. I was doing something else. Anyway, I usually catch all the movies at the year’s end, all the screeners.
San Diego Reader: The three films that Fred just mentioned are the greatest James Bond movies ever made outside the Broccoli family. What was your discussion with John Boorman about incorporating James Bond into the spy in Tailor of Panama?
Well, I met John Boorman who is a mighty man and someone I have the greatest admiration for and a huge fan of his films. We’re sitting there in a little restaurant in Malibu and I was so excited to be playing the tailor of Panama. He said, “No, no, I don’t want you for the tailor. I want you for the spy.” I said, “Of course, of course.” That was our first meeting. I thought he wanted me to play the tailor. I don’t know what happened in my agent telling me, but I went to the meeting thinking, “This is great. He wants me to play the tailor.” He said, “No, no, Geoffrey Rush is playing the tailor. You’re playing Andy Osnard.” I went, “Of course, yeah, I do know that.”
San Diego Reader: Did you ever talk about Bond, or was it just a given?
It was just a given really. It wasn’t necessary to talk about Bond. I knew the rules, I knew the joke, I knew the gag. I knew what we were playing at here. I knew the hijinks of what he was up to, using me as Andy Osnard, this sleaze bag, this morally mangled dude down there.
CraveOnline: Didn’t they film the ending where you get killed?
Oh, the ending was so great. The end, when they shoot me, it was so good because it was the helicopter sequence and you can’t hear anything. You just see him go like this, he looks down and there’s blood, and the money’s flying everywhere. Andy Osnard looks at him and says, “What’d you do that for? You stupid cunt.” And dies. [Laughs loud, almost maniacally] It was such a good line. It was such a fucking great exit line. “What did you do that for? Stupid cunt.”
CraveOnline: With Peter Devereaux in November Man were you able to go as dark as you wanted?
Oh yeah. I mean, yeah, I think it’s pretty dark. I think it’s got an edge to it. It’s got a bite to it. It’s got a visceral underpinning. We wanted to take the gloves off. After James Bond moved off stage right in my life, there was this certain kind of vacuum of unfinished business. I think it was palpable for Beaumarie [St. Clair] and myself as producers. For me as the actor who thought he was going in a certain direction with the next production of James Bond, was suddenly somewhat derailed, there was a desire and a want on my behalf to do something like this again. She was the one who found the material. It just took a long time to get here.
CraveOnline: Is likability ever an issue for you? Because we tend to like even some pretty despicable characters in movies anyway.
Yeah, the femoral artery scene is a fairly brutal example but to be able to push the envelope to that point, you hope that you have set down some yardage of the heart and the character and the accessibility of the character with an audience to be able to go to that place and do something as brutal and audacious as that without losing the audience.
CraveOnline: The worst was he drank all of that poor guy’s 60-year-old scotch.
Well, you know, these men drink. You could make a reference to James Bond and his martinis, but hardcore liquor like that, 60 year old scotch seemed to make sense for a fellow like Peter Devereaux.
San Diego Reader: What initially drew you to the novel?
The writing of Bill Granger I found had a complexity and nuance of character and style and storytelling. He was a journalist, he was from Chicago. It seemed be steeped in some relevance and immediacy, good storytelling.
CraveOnline: Seeing The November Man at the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater reminded me of a story I heard about the Dante’s Peak premiere. Is it true that one of the projectors broke, back when it was film projectors, and the audience had to wait for it to be shown one reel at a time? Did they actually stay for that?
They did. It was a full house that night. Roger [Donaldson] had to get up and make an announcement that we have a problem with the projector, we don’t have the right lens and we’ll be five minutes. 20 minutes went by and time ticked on.
CraveOnline: So it was the lens, not the projector. I had heard it showed in fits and starts one reel at a time and I couldn’t imagine anyone waiting for that. So it was just delayed, not interrupted.
It was a delay. No, I don’t remember fits and starts. When they got the right lens, the curtain went up and everybody enjoyed the movie and many deals were made.
San Diego Reader: You’re not afraid to take risks, including making an R-rated movie which is a risk now. Do you consciously plan these risks?
You want to do stuff that turns you on and hopefully turns an audience on. Beau and I created Irish DreamTime after Goldeneye happened and I hadn’t made a pig’s ear of it all, to make movies. We do one at a time. We’re pretty slow moving.
San Diego Reader: Didn’t you just make seven films?
Two years, well, that’s just me being an independent contractor. Beau and I, we’ve just made 10 movies. Before The November Man the last film we made was The Greatest, a little film. It’s just the joy of being able to have choices and create your own work for yourself. After Goldeneye I knew that I had my work cut out for me to distance myself from Bond, or to create and cleave another existence for myself as an actor, as an artist.
San Diego Reader: Did you intentionally merge them?
Well, it just happens because once Bond, always Bond. Forever and a day. It’s a small club of men now and Bond is the gift that keeps giving. Without Bond I wouldn’t be The November Man. There’d be no Tailor of Panama, no Mamma Mia!, no Matador so everything has its organic footstep.
CraveOnline: Since Stallone has been doing press for Expendables 3, he mentioned your name as someone he wants for Expendables 4. Has he said anything officially to you?
Avi Lerner has because I did a movie called Survivor over there in Sofia, Bulgaria recently and Avi is the man there. I said, “Yeah, sure. I’d love to do it. Send me a script.” Then it was in Hollywood Reporter the next day that I’m doing The Expendables. So we’ll see. I mean, why not? Right now I’m free as a bird to do anything I want to do and go anywhere or play hopefully any level of performance.
CraveOnline: You’ll be the first Bond they have in their cast.
Mm-hmm. Slow and steady. I looked at the poster the other day and thought, “Wow, where’s Harrison?” This sea of faces there. I’d like to be in the one with all the women, The Expendabelles. That’s the one I said to Avi, “Let me go in with the women. I’ll jump in there. It seems only fitting.”
San Diego Reader: If you had a dollar for every time someone called you Pierce Bronson, how many dollars would you get? Did Charles Bronson ever get called Brosnan?
Charlie lived in Malibu and I used to pick up his laundry. They’d give me his. “No, no, I’m Brosnan, Brosnan.” “Bronson?” “No, Brosnan.” There you go. I almost changed my name when I left drama school. My stepdad was Carmichael. I almost changed it to Pierce Carmichael. I thought, “No, I’m born Brosnan and Thom Brosnan, the old scallywag that he was, gave me the name.”
San Diego Reader: Peter Devereaux is a great name too and so was Andy Osnard.
Devereaux is good and November Man has got a sensuality to it and a punch. I love the name. It was like doing Thomas Crown Affair. I love the song “Windmills of Your Mind.” That’s why I really wanted to make the movie.
CraveOnline: In the Bond documentary Everything or Nothing, there was a funny moment where you couldn’t tell your own Bond movies apart after Goldeneye. Is that true that you couldn’t tell Tomorrow Never Dies from The World Is Not Enough from Die Another Day, or were you playing it up for the camera?
No, there’s a certain truth in that because Goldeneye was so unique. It was so palpably exhilarating and absolutely just mind-blowingly daunting to step onto the stage and into the shoes of James Bond so it stands alone. Then the next one was, I don’t know, it just seemed to be unwieldy. I think the last one, Tomorrow Never Dies, was that it?
CraveOnline: Do you want me to help?
Die Another Day?
CraveOnline: Yes. So that’s true, you can’t tell them apart.
CraveOnline: Well, I’m a fan and I can tell them apart.
Good. I’m so glad you can. Good.
CraveOnline: There was a time when Tarantino was trying to do Casino Royale and he wanted you for it. Did that ever get as far as talking to you about it?
Yeah, yeah. He wanted to meet me right before Tomorrow Never Dies and he was doing Kill Bill 2 [Note: So he still means Die Another Day,if it was 2002. - Fred] It was at this hotel and I came up and I met him. I got downstairs and was going to have a beer. The guy came up and said, “Somebody sent you a martini.” I had the martini and the beer. Then I was waiting for him and I thought, “Okay, I’ll have another martini.” Then Quentin came down and he was like, “Yeah, man, yeah! Fucking great, man! Apple martini!” Had an apple martini, another apple martini. We got so fucking blitzed completely and he’s banging the table saying, “You are the best James Bond! You’re the only James Bond!” I said, “Quentin, man, people are listening for heaven’s sake.” I could hardly get out the door here. Luckily I had a car. I wasn’t driving, and we were outside this hotel. I went to the Broccolis to say Quentin Tarantino but it didn’t swing.
CraveOnline: But what was his take?
How could I remember after six martinis? How could I possibly remember what was his take? The take was that we had a great bloody time. Quentin didn’t know what his take was except that he loved me as James Bond and he wanted to do James Bond.
They actually are supposedly making that one (though maybe not after Ex 3 bombed in the U.S.) and of course that's the one he'd rather be part of.
Interesting that he was going to be in The NEXT Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but had a conflict. Would have been fun to seem him with Dame Judi again (haven't seen the first, I assume she makes it out of that one alive).
HOLLYWOOD—Pierce Brosnan returns to the spy genre in the big screen adaptation of the Bill Granger political thriller “The November Man.”
It’s been nearly a decade since the blue-eyed Irishman delivered his last performance as James Bond in “GoldenEye,” having depicted the iconic British spy on three previous outings (“Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The World Is Not Enough” and “Die Another Day”). He obviously was a bit miffed when the producers enlisted English actor Daniel Craig to take over as 007 for 2006’s “Casino Royale.”
But, as the saying goes, living well is the best revenge. Brosnan has enjoyed a successful post-Bond movie career. His first big hit was 2005’s “The Matador,” a critically acclaimed film in which he played a jaded assassin. He subsequently co-starred with fellow Irish actor Liam Neeson in the underrated revenge drama “Seraphim Falls.” He even ventured into the musical genre with the critically scorned but publicly welcomed big screen adaptation of “Mamma Mia!” alongside Meryl Streep.
“The November Man” is based on “There Are No Spies,” one of Granger’s 13-novel series, which means if the Roger Donaldson-directed spy film connects with audiences, the 61-year-old actor may have his next spy franchise. He stars in the film opposite Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”) and Luke Bracey (the upcoming remake of “Point Break.”)
Dressed in a blue suit for an interview, Brosnan discussed “The November Man,” which he produced through his company, Irish Dreamtime. He plays a decidedly un-Bond-like ex-spy named Peter Devereaux who is lured back into the spy game to save someone close to his heart. When that effort fails, he has to find a way to protect a woman who is the key to resolving a decades-old conspiracy.
Q: Did you hesitate to do another spy film because you thought audiences might associate the character with James Bond?
Brosnan: No that never entered into the equation. It just seemed like unfinished business. I was contracted for four movies with James Bond. I saved the world four times. (He chuckles.) There was supposed to be a fifth, but it was never meant to be. I think that was grist for the mill. So, to go out there and find a piece like “The November Man” and do it my way… Cue song. But it was as simple as that. I’ve known my producing partner, Beau (St. Clair), for a long time. We’ve enjoyed many trials and tribulations. She wanted this for me. She wanted me to go back into this game and pick up the gun. As I was watching the movie at the premiere the other day, I thought, “I should’ve picked up the gun sooner! Made more money! Made business!” (He laughs.) My wife, Keely, said, “I told you you should’ve done it. I told you.” I said, “No, you didn’t.” And she said, “Yes, I did.” So there’s an embroidery of friendship and family.
Q: Are you going to do a sequel to “The November Man?”
Brosnan: That’s what we hope. (My producer partner) It’s Beau St. Clair’s and my intentions and wishes and desire. We’ll see. Also, we were pleased to find someone as wonderful and fresh and exhilarating and diamond-in-the-rough as (co-star) Luke Bracey is.
Q: You shot this in Serbia. What was it like to work there?
Brosnan: It was a joy. I knew Belgrade. I was there before the war, before the war and after the war. I did a mini-series, “Around The World In 80 Days.” I had a little franchise, right before I did James Bond, playing a mercenary, and we shot two movies there. So I knew the landscape of the people and the climate, and the great trauma that had befallen the Balkans. The book was set in Berlin, but we didn’t have the money to go to Berlin. This film was made for a really conservative amount of money, and so to get a bigger bang for the buck, we were trying to find a landscape that hadn’t been used. Roger (Donaldson) fell in love with it, and that’s how that happened. The Serbian actors and crew embraced us, and likewise. It was hard work, but also exhilarating. We shot in Belgrade and Montenegro. Beautiful. It’s just so wonderful to go to far-flung places—Papua New Guinea, Berlin and Montenegro—to make movies. It gives you so much insight into the character.
Q: You’ve enjoyed a successful post-Bond career, with “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “The Matador,” and smaller, independent dramas like “Evelyn.” You haven’t been pigeonholed as a spy. You can do a film like this, but it’s just one of the many things in your arsenal.
Brosnan: Well, thank you. I knew there was work to be done. I was trained as an actor to play many roles. I was led to believe that I had some versatility, some talent, some sense of performance. Going into James Bond, there’s only one way to do it, and that’s to do it right, because I’d seen men go before me in the role. I had great admiration for them all. So I knew that I was going to have a hard road, coming out the other end, trying to define myself as an actor, an artist, a performer.
Q: You’re also an artist and an activist and, it seems to me, you are working on a boatload of movies right now. And you’re a father. Your sons are almost grown, but not quite yet. How do you balance everything?
Brosnan: Just by the skin of my teeth, and my good wife, who holds the hearth and home together and guides the ship. I did seven movies in two years. It’s feast or famine being an actor. It’s a capricious game.
Q: With your production company, you’ve been able to kind of maintain some kind of control over your career. You’ve kind of made your own things happen. Do you look back and think how smart it was to start your own production company?
Brosnan: (The late Columbia Pictures president) Dawn Steel, god bless her, gave me a deal many years ago. She saw me in “Noble House,” a miniseries that I did. She liked the look of me, and gave me a producing deal. I sat there at that studio for a long time, going up to (agent) Gareth Wigan, with Chekhovian stories, stuff that was completely unacceptable in this town. I was there for about a year-and-a-half. I (had an office) between Madonna and Cher in a little bungalow. But life goes on, and I became James Bond. Lloyd Phillips, Beau’s dear husband/partner, who passed away last year, said to me after “Golden Eye” became a success, “You and Beau should get together to produce movies.” One time, we were in Malibu having lunch, and he mentioned that, and I said to him, “OK, give me a quarter.” I put the quarter in the phone, and called (United Artists’) John Calley, who was then the head of the company, and I said, “John, you said if I ever wanted to speak to you, or have a meeting, to call you. Well, I’m sitting here with my friend, my producing partner. Can we come and see you?” He said, “Yeah, Coogie’s (restaurant), Tuesday at 10 a.m.” And then I went back to the table and I said to them, “Beau and I have got a meeting with John Calley.” When we met with John I thought it was going to be a quick 15-20 minutes, but it ended up being three hours. He gave Beau and I an office. Beau said to me, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I don’t know, something Irish.”
Q: What was your first project produced?
Brosnan: (The Ireland-set family drama) “The Nephew.” After that, Beau and I were big fans of (actor) Steve McQueen. She said to me, “Did you ever watch (him in the 1968 version of) ‘The Thomas Crown Affair?’” And I said, “I love it. I love the music!” The song, “The Windmills Of Your Mind’. We got a copy from Blockbuster and watched it again. And then we remade that.
Q: How did “The Matador” come about?
Brosnan: ‘The Matador” was sent to us by (director) Richard Shepard, who loved “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and he sent it to us as a writing sample, for (the sequel), and I said, “No, let’s just do this! Let’s shoot this!”
Q: You’re playing King Louis XIV in “The Moon and the Sun.” Have you already finished filming that?
Brosnan: Oh, yes. It’s in the can.
Q: Did you have the whole get-up with the powdered wigs and stockings?
Brosnan: No, no, no. In this day and age, they take history and skewer it. This is a Bill Mechanic (produced) film. Bill has wanted to do this for many years. The Vonda N. McIntyre book is much loved. It’s in the court of Louis XIV, but it’s a fable. It’s a fable about Louis wanting to have immortality. The mermaid, (Chinese actress) Fan Bingbing, is the heart song, the young girl that’s sequestered in the convent. It’s a love story. It’s a gorgeous piece. My Louis is Jim Morrison meets Alexander McQueen meets Tom Ford—all rock and roll!
Pierce Brosnan Talks THE NOVEMBER MAN, Reuniting with Roger Donaldson, Future NOVEMBER MAN Films, Playing GOLDENEYE on N64 and More
by Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
Opening this week is director Roger Donaldson’s (The Bank Job, No Way Out) action thriller The November Man. Based on Bill Granger’s novel There are No Spies from the bestselling November Man book series, the film stars Pierce Brosnan as an ex-CIA operative who is lured out of retirement on a personal mission. While on the assignment, he finds himself trying to protect a valuable witness (Olga Kurylenko) while his former pupil (Luke Bracey) is trying to hunt him down. The film also stars Eliza Taylor, Caterina Scorsone, Bill Smitrovich and Will Patton. For more on The November Man, watch the trailer or check out all our previous coverage.
Last week at the Los Angeles press day I was able to speak with Brosnan. He talked about reuniting with Roger Donaldson, getting back into the action genre, casting Luke Bracey, filming in Belgrade, future projects, the last time he played Goldeneye on the N64 (the interview was done before this bit on The Tonight Show), why audiences have responded so strongly to older actors becoming action stars, and more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
Note: This interview was done with Merrill Barr from Nerdist. I’ve noted who asked each question.
PIERCE BROSNAN: Who are you all with?
Steve: I run a site called Collider. We have at least five readers.
Merrill: I’m with Nerdist, and we’ve got at least three so he beat me.
Steve: I really want to ask you one of the most important question of the day – and hopefully you haven’t been asked this yet – when was the last time you played GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64?
BROSNAN: May 13, 1995.
Steve: Is that really true?
BROSNAN: Or something like that. I remember when it came out. I think I did the GoldenEye in 94, 95. My sons got it, I played it. I remember sitting in the garage playing it with them. I think I shot myself in the foot many times.
BROSNAN: And I just said, “F*ck it. I don’t want to do this.”
Merrill: And when did they come up with the cheat codes and be like, “You gotta see this! They got paintball mode on this thing!”
BROSNAN: I know. I lost track of it thereafter. I wish I had a piece of it. That would have been very, very nice. It was one of those little things they get you on the Bond and then suddenly your face is every which way.
Steve: The thing about that game, and I’m not sure if you’re aware, it’s gone down as one of the iconic games of any system. People love that game.
BROSNAN: It’s still out there? They still sell them?
Steve: I don’t know if they still sell it, but I know that people still talk about it. It’s revered as one of the classic games.
BROSNAN: That I’ve heard.
Merrill: I don’t remember if they did. Either they were talking about it or they did do an HD remake of it and put it out on Xbox.
BROSNAN: Did you play it?
Steve: I played it a lot when I was younger. It is a huge game. That’s why I’m asking you.
BROSNAN: Why? Why was it such a huge game?
Steve: The gameplay.
BROSNAN: The interaction?
Steve: Yeah. The fact that you could play four players. It was just a well-made game. And it’s unusual also because games based on movies are usually terrible. They’re just notoriously horrible. And that game was just really good.
BROSNAN: Yeah. My 13-year-old, he plays fierce games. I buy him an Xbox and …
Merrill: Does he play Daniel Craig’s Bond games? [Laughs]
BROSNAN: No. He’s not playing Daniel’s games, but whatever Combat something or other. When we go out to Hawaii, he has one there and he digs it out when his mother’s not looking. I go in there and he’s like [makes shooting noise]. It’s brutal.
Steve: Well let’s jump into why we get to talk to you today.
BROSNAN: Anyway, there you go. November Man. Here we are.
Merrill: You’ve been on this for a while. You’ve been developing it for years. Is this the one you were waiting for to jump back into the action spy game?
BROSNAN: Yeah. There’s no question about it. Beaumarie St. Claire and I, we created Irish DreamTime after GoldenEye hit. We made movies like Thomas Crown and The Matador. And in between my stints as James Bond, I’d go off and I’d do something like The Matador or Tailor of Panama, which was spy related, just so I could shake it up. It’s a genre which really appeals to me. I love these kind of movies as a kind of cinema-going geek myself. Those characters, you want to be like those characters when you go to the movies. You know, when you see a movie with a guy who’s really cool and the killing’s slick and easy. I don’t know. There’s something intoxicating about it. So she found the book, sent it to me, I loved the title, November Man. I thought it was really punchy and kind of had an aura or mystique about it. And the writing by Bill Granger was complex and character driven. Then in came Mike Finch and Karl [Gajdusek] and they just cleaved their way through it. Then I went off and I did another film – I don’t know the timing of it all. And then one day it was Roger [Donaldson]. I said Roger’s name. “Roger should direct this,” and Roger said yes, and we were off to the races.
Steve: That’s actually what I wanted to ask you about is working with Roger. I really think he’s an underrated action thriller director. I just like his work a lot. I grew up with No Way Out, which is one of my favorites.
Steve: What it is about him that you immediately thought of him, and what is he like to collaborate with on set?
BROSNAN: Well, the day I said it to Beau, because we’re all mates and we’ve known each other a long time, and he and I had done Dante’s Peak together and I loved all his movies, just like you do. They’re suspenseful, and he does suspense, his timing. He’s a shooter. He just loves the camera and loves creating the shot, and how to get the most bang for your buck out of that shot, that lens. He’s good on character. That’s kind of it. We sat down at the house in Malibu. My wife made lunch. Roger, Beau, myself, we talked about it and said, “Let’s go. Let’s do it.” That’s how it happened. And Belgrade, I’d been to Belgrade before. I’d worked before the war, during the war, and after the war in that part of the world, so I knew that landscape and Roger loved that landscape. It’s kind of unique. It hasn’t been seen much in films. And we didn’t have the money to shoot in Berlin, [laughs] because the story takes place in Berlin. So we kind of skewed it Belgrade, Montenegro. It’s as simple as that, really, and they embraced us. They let us come in, the government there. They gave us palaces, and hotels, and buildings. When you’ve got eight cars out on the streets with camera mounts, live action, it’s kind of a bit sketchy, but exhilarating.
Merrill: First of all, I agree with Steve because I am a huge fan of The Recruit, which he did. But because it’s your second time with him, did you notice any difference in your working relationship with him this time around? Was it an easier time?
BROSNAN: Oh, it was an easier time, yeah, because I was a producer on it.
Merrill: That would make things a little easier. “I can tell you what to do!” [Laughs]
BROSNAN: No. I don’t do that. That’s not my style. I’m an actor first and foremost. My producing credentials are just to say, “Yeah, I love this story and now let’s bring the people, the ensemble together,” and I get out of the way. I have no desire to check on schedules and shooting schedules and money and stuff like that. I’ll make phone calls. I’ll call anybody and knock on any door to try and get a location, or get an actor, or get an actress. But no, it was just very easy. We just hit the ground running. And he’s the boss. I go on the set and he’s the man. He directs me. He likes to go many takes, many takes, many takes. I like to keep it down to two or three and move on, but he likes to go, so that’s okay, too. It was a joy. What can I say? It was just a great treat to have Bill [Smitrovich], Olga [Kurylenko], Luke [Bracey]. Luke was a great find. Beau and Roger really looked at many, many guys’ work and then one day, I was in Santa Monica dropping my boy off, and they said, “Why don’t you come by the office? We’ve got to show you some guys for the part of Mason.” And there were three great guys and Luke was the dude. I sat there with the headphones on, watched the laptop, they sat over there and I thought, “Shit, man. This is the moment of truth. Wow. I’m going to pick one of these actors to play opposite me in this spy genre movie, which has the potential to hopefully do some business. And because of my legacy as Bond, blah, blah, blah, one of these guys is going to be the dude.” And Luke was the man. So when you push the button on that, I mean, I remember my own days as a young actor going and auditioning. You get a break here, you get a break there. And Luke stood up the task. Luke was brilliant. I’m just sorry that he can’t be here. He’s doing Point Break and he’s off to the races with his movie career.
Steve: I personally think you guys made a better decision filming in Belgrade than Berlin because Berlin has been shot so many times.
BROSNAN: So many times.
Steve: One of the things I took away from the film was this is a landscape and a situation that we’re not used to seeing on screen. What was it like filming there in terms of day in and day out, and also, was there any location that just really blew you away that you got to film at?
BROSNAN: The White Palace was pretty impressive. Very impressive, in fact. The day to day running of the set was everybody showed up for work. They are seasoned filmmakers over there. They have an infrastructure for filmmaking, which is very healthy. It’s small, but they were tenacious, polite, timely. Everybody gave 100%. I mean everyone, because they all knew that the film had the bones and the heartbeat of something that could be good. And everyone was in on it and wanted it for me and wanted it for Roger and Beau. I got to Belgrade. I turned 60 on a Monday. I was there on a Tuesday. I was sick as a dog on the Wednesday, 102 temperature. And Friday was my first day at work. So, [makes whip cracking sounds]. I was like, “F*ck me. This is not a good way to start an action movie!”
Merrill: Or it’s the best way to start an action movie!
BROSNAN: Well, yeah. But your heart’s pounding. You’re thinking, “Oh my god.” It was hard work, but great work.
Merrill: It feels like there’s a big push right now from a lot of directors and actors to do more of the ‘70s style thrillers and revenge films. Everyone talks about how they are so hard to get off the ground these days in this big budget world, like Transformers. But this is that ‘70s style thriller revenge film. One, did you have any problems with that? And two, was that always the goal to make it have that ‘70s vibe, because the book does come out of The Cold War?
BROSNAN: Yeah. It was. I didn’t think that and I didn’t verbalize that to myself or within meetings that we ever had, but we wanted to make a hard-nosed, gritty, realistic spy thriller. Roger talked about using lenses. He shot hi-def, but using anamorphic lenses that he’d found from this warehouse. He was so thrilled with that. Him and Romain [Lacourbas] were just like kids in a toy store with their lenses. And consequently, you have this rich looking film, which gives it this kind of muscular feel, deep focus, soft focus look. I’m not that great on development. I can see where things go wrong, but Beau, Carl and Mike Finch, they worked on it relentlessly. And then I would see the material and I would say, “Well, that just doesn’t ring true. I don’t quite know why that’s happening.” So that would be my input and I’d go off and I’d work on another film, and then I’d catch up with them later on in the year. We just kind of nursed the piece along. There was no timeframe. We didn’t have anyone pushing us except ourselves to make the film, and a desire. And then the organic kind of naming of Roger; then it happened really fast.
Steve: I think I speak for a lot people when I say it’s really nice to have you kicking ass on screen.
BROSNAN: Thank you, thank you.
Steve: I mean that sincerely. Is there a plan for the future stuff that you want to do about doing more action roles?
BROSNAN: Well, it would be great if this finds traction to go again, to set sail, and we’ll know that pretty soon. We’re developing a piece called I.T. right now which is a thriller. That’s got action in it. It’s good. That’s as much as I know of what I’m going to do. My son, Sean Brosnan, we’re going to do a movie called Last Man Out. Craig Ferguson came to us with a piece, which I really liked. It’s a really violent, caustic little piece set in Belfast. It’s good. It’s down and dirty. Go to Belfast, do it there, do it in Ireland. Sean, who’s my boy, he’s a writer, director, actor. We’re doing that after Christmas.
Merrill: Jumping off Steve’s thing, because you guys are trying to turn this into a series. There’s 13 books in the series. Have you thought about what you want to do next with Devereaux and where you want to take him next? Did you get to that point?
BROSNAN: I found myself in the changed man theory the other night thinking, “Yeah.” I thought, “My god. If we could do this again,” but there was nothing specific there. There’s just the kind of vague sensation of how I’d like it to go. I allowed myself that gift to think that. Luke would be there. I would be there. Who are these men? How do you find these men? Where do you find these men? Is Olga still there? I don’t know. But you have to go to the books. You go back to the books. There’s a few books there that have an amalgamation of story and characters that we like. I don’t know. More will be revealed after the 27th.
Steve: One of the things that I’ve noticed, audiences have really responded to Liam Neeson kicking ass as an older gentlemen. And Colin Firth is going to be kicking ass in Kingsman: The Secret Service. I guess where I’m going with this is, audiences seem to respond right now to, I don’t want to use the term older actors.
BROSNAN: Older actors, mature actors. Men.
Steve: Yeah, men on screen kicking ass, more so than I think younger actors. What do you think it is about audiences responding to people in their 60s kicking ass on screen and going crazy for it?
BROSNAN: I don’t know. I really haven’t given it much thought. I have been asked this the last few days and I should probably give it some thought. There’s a familiarity there. And if the material is well-suited, like it is to Liam. I mean, Liam has a powerful presence. He’s a great actor. Great physique, voice, style, presence. It just works. There’s just something that is comforting and beguiling about it all. It’s the material. It has to be good material, really. And I think we’ve just seen so many young guys come out there and talk the good talk, but really not kind of deliver that much.
Steve: Do you think that people want to see the scars or they want to see the impact of life?
BROSNAN: Honest to god, I don’t know. I really don’t know and I don’t give it that much thought and I don’t care. [Laughs] As long as it works for me, then great. I love seeing Liam do it. Liam in Taken has been great to see. My boys love it. They love him. And there’s just the gravitas to it. It’s believable. You know the guy’s endured. You know the guy’s lived some life. Someone like Liam has lived a lot of life. Myself, I’ve lived a lot of life. There’s loss. There’s success. There’s loss. There’s doubts. And there’s some heartbeat there.
Merrill: Do you think it’s important that they have to be flawed characters? Because Devereaux is a flawed guy. He’s borderline alcoholic, he’s retired, he’s not the guy he used to be, but that’s what makes him sort of interesting to watch.
BROSNAN: Yeah, no question about it. And it gives us all hope with our own flaws, and fragility, and fractured lives to go on and be successful and find happiness. Ultimately, that’s what he’s trying to do and that’s what we try to do as people, be happy. It’s the ultimate goal every day you wake up, to be happy. At the end of the week, you want to be happy. Happy in love, happy in work, happy in life, happy with yourself. It’s pretty simple.
Last Edit: Aug 26, 2014 8:28:56 GMT -5 by eaz35173
In 'November Man' Pierce Brosnan gets tougher with age By JOSH ROTTENBERG
On his 60th birthday in May 2013, Pierce Brosnan woke up in Belgrade, Serbia. In three days he was to start shooting a new action-thriller called "The November Man," playing a world-weary but still lethal ex-CIA agent — the sort of role that would involve a whole lot of running, jumping, pistol-whipping and fireball-dodging.
"I thought, 'Is this a good idea?'" Brosnan recalled over lunch on a recent afternoon at a Beverly Hills hotel. After a moment, he decided that it felt right in his gut. "I can still run in a straight line," he said with a wry smile, "and I can still throw a punch." Brosnan is no stranger to the espionage genre, of course. You may remember his stint as a certain British superspy with a fondness for martinis, Aston Martins and scantily clad women. Indeed, the persona of the charming but deadly international man of intrigue has fit Brosnan like a tailored tuxedo since well before the James Bond franchise came his way in 1995, going all the way back to his breakout role on the 1980s TV series "Remington Steele."
Now, 12 years after his final appearance as 007 in the film "Die Another Day," Brosnan is playing a very different kind of spy on the big screen, one more haunted and emotionally broken than Bond or Steele. Adapted from a 1987 novel by late author Bill Granger, "The November Man," opening Wednesday, centers on a former CIA agent named Peter Devereaux who comes in from the cold for one final assignment involving a power-hungry Russian leader.
"Devereaux is a much darker, more reflective, more cynical and ruthless person than Bond ever was," said the film's director, Roger Donaldson. "The only thing the characters have in common is that they're both spies."
Like Devereaux, Brosnan himself resisted being pulled back into the spy business for years. In the wake of his four-film run as Bond, he charted an unpredictable course, zigzagging between dramas and comedies and deliberately tweaking his own image whenever he could.
In the 2005 comic thriller "The Matador," Brosnan played an assassin whose life is falling apart. In the 2008 musical comedy hit "Mamma Mia!" he crooned ABBA songs — something Bond would never be caught dead doing, even under torture by the likes of Blofeld.
The goal was stay relevant and fresh to avoid a fate similar to that of actor Roger Moore, who never quite managed to escape the shadow of Bond.
"If Pierce had gone straight into action movies after Bond, he could have trashed his career," said Brosnan's longtime producing partner, Beau St. Clair. "We try to push the boundaries on every movie. You don't want to hack out."
The fact is, in spite of his dashing looks and facility with a gun and a quip, Brosnan — who was raised in Ireland by his single mother and his grandparents and now splits his time between Malibu and Hawaii — has never seen himself deep down as a matinee idol.
"I always thought of myself as a character actor," he said. "I was told I was a leading man, so I thought, 'Well, I'll run with that.'"
Yet for all the varied work he's done since Bond, Brosnan knows full well that he will always be inextricably linked to that iconic role. Witness his recent appearance on "The Tonight Show," in which he accepted Jimmy Fallon's challenge to play a round of the classic 007 video game "GoldenEye." (He was killed within seconds.)
Well, sure, it was a "mighty blow" to his ego that Daniel Craig got cast rather that him. Craig has proven to be the best 007 ever(though Sean Connery was also very good).
"I will forever be a Bond," Brosnan said. "It's a small group of men who've made this role. Someone said more men have walked on the moon than have played James Bond."
As he discusses his tenure as Bond, though, it's clear Brosnan has conflicting feelings. On the one hand, he said, "it's the gift that keeps giving." On the other, he still bears some lingering wounds over being replaced by actor Daniel Craig when the franchise was rebooted in 2006.
Brosnan admits that for years he resisted watching Craig's Bond movies. "There was a certain reluctance and pain after what had happened," he said. "I understood [the decision to recast the role] — it's just good business sense — but it was a mighty blow to take."
He did try to watch 2006's "Casino Royale" on a plane, he said, "having believed that 30,000 feet was a safe distance to view it after a couple of cocktails." But when the video repeatedly stalled, he turned it off, seeing the malfunction as a sign. Finally, after a few more years, he watched 2012's "Skyfall" — and was impressed.
"They got the right man for the next chapter of Bond's history," Brosnan said. "'Skyfall' was dynamic. It had character and a good story you could hang onto." He laughed. "Most of the time [in my Bond films], you had no clue who you were fighting: What am I doing? What's at stake? You'd just go on 'Action!'"
In a way, "The November Man" represents Brosnan's chance to make his own espionage film in the grittier, more grounded style that the Bond films adopted after he left the role. With audiences showing an appetite in recent years for action movies headlined by older stars, like Liam Neeson, Relativity Media has already greenlighted a sequel. Still, it remains to be seen how moviegoers will respond to Brosnan as a spy who doesn't have the code number 007.
He isn't twiddling his thumbs waiting to find out. The actor has a number of other films on deck, including the romantic comedy "How to Make Love Like an Englishman" and the thriller "The Coup," and he is continuing to develop projects through his production company, Irish DreamTime, including a sequel to his 1999 heist remake "The Thomas Crown Affair."
Asked about rumors that he could join the cast of "The Expendables" for its next go-round, Brosnan acknowledges that he met earlier this year with the series' producer, Avi Lerner. "They were going to do one with women — I said, 'I'll do that one.'" He laughs. "Why do I want to sit on a set with a bunch of crusty old dogs when I can sit on the set with a bunch of gorgeous-looking women? I think that's much more fitting."
What's clear is that Brosnan has no plans to slow down any time soon. "There will be time enough some day to work less," he said. "I always keep thinking, 'The next role — that's going to be the one that's really going to define me and show them all. I'll transform and disappear and it will be a revelation.'"
An early interview ... not sure why it's titled the way it is, tho.
Uh-oh, it appears the video was pulled almost as soon as it was uploaded. I was able to get a copy of it before it was deleted. I'll see if youtube will let me load it on one of my accounts. Hopefully I'll repost it a bit later today.
An early interview ... not sure why it's titled the way it is, tho.
Uh-oh, it appears the video was pulled almost as soon as it was uploaded. I was able to get a copy of it before it was deleted. I'll see if youtube will let me load it on one of my accounts. Hopefully I'll repost it a bit later today.
I was able to upload it to my account. And I altered the title of it, as well ...
EN Interview 1 - Youthful and handsome, Pierce Brosnan, 61, returns to the spy genre in November Man, opposite fellow Bond alum, Olga Kurylenko. The handsome Irish actor is also a producer and environmentalist. He first became known for the TV series, Remington Steele, before inhabiting the iconic role of James Bond from 1995 to 2005. He also starred in such movies as The Thomas Crown Affair, The Matador, Mamma Mia! and The Ghost Writer.
He was married to Australian actress Cassandra Harris from 1980 until her death in 1991. He married American journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith in 2001.
Q: What did you think of the movie?
BROSNAN: Well, I saw a screening of November Man a few weeks ago and I was very happy; I was very pleased that we managed to pull this off. And then when you pull up and you are outside the Hollywood emporium at the Mann’s Chinese Theatre and you see all the people and you celebrate the film, it’s like, ‘Whoa, it’s a great joy. A great dream.’
Q: Did you have trepidations about going back to the spy genre?
BROSNAN: No, I thought the timing felt good. I felt there was enough space between my days as James Bond and this moment in time. It took five years in the making and when the curtain fell, surprising so and unexpectedly so on my career as James Bond, or my time as playing that role, there was a certain kind of void and vacuum there of what to do next, how to proceed. I didn’t want to pick up the gun again, even though my wife said, ‘You should; you should do action, action, action!’ But I didn’t, I wanted to go do other things. And I did, and I tried to be an unexpected surprise in another arena, but there was unfinished business, just as I was getting the hang of Bond, it kind of disappeared. And so how do you reinvent yourself in the action genre? November Man. I loved the books, and we took the spine of Book number seven, There Are No Spies, which I thought had a rather eloquently witty little double edged sword to it, so there’s always a certain sense of hesitation yes, can I pull this off, is this the right move? But it felt like it was organically the right thing. I felt that there was an audience out there who enjoyed my work as James Bond, and I thought we could do business.
Q: Why did your wife tell you that you should do action? What was her thinking?
BROSNAN: Because she said I was good at it. (laughter) And she just is a smart woman and thank God for her, I should have done it sooner, but I didn’t. I’d done it when I done it.
Q: What is the biggest change? How is it to be a spy, to play a spy now compared to a few years ago?
BROSNAN: Well you know, you have to work just as hard but you don’t have to try as hard because you just have to be. (laughter) And so there’s a certain mileage of the bones, the heart and the mind and the soul of the actor of the actor who plays it and that is me. So you come with a certain gravitas of time and playing. And you surround yourself with the best people. And everyone came on board because they understood the possibilities that if we got this right, it would be a real kick in the pants all around to step out there.
Q: Have you thought about a sequel already? Is that something you have talked about?
BROSNAN: Yes, of course, there’s a franchise there. There are 13 books and this is the first outing so that was very much a part of our intention, to find a franchise.
Q: Do you always stay in shape or over the years, did you have to do an extra workout for this movie?
BROSNAN: I had to do work. Nothing comes from nothing. (laughter) I like my wine, I like my beer, I like my bread, I like my butter (laughter) and I have to also just like kind of moderate and keep up, just keep up.
Q: So what was that routine like?
BROSNAN: Play tennis, workout, play tennis, workout, play tennis, workout.
Q: What kind of workout do you do?
BROSNAN: What do I do?
Q: Yeah. Do you have a personal trainer?
BROSNAN: I have trained with so many trainers in my day, I am sick of them. (laughter) I was doing this film in Ireland, I had this trainer, he was a marine, and my buddy, Ricky Provenzana and I would take the train into the pub, have lots of Guinness, (laughter) Ricky would say, ‘I see you have another trainer here.’ (laughter) Yeah, you have got to train these boys. (laughter) Smoothies and juices and a couple of pints of Guinness, good protein, so yeah, you have to maintain, you have to keep your stamina going, you have to have endurance. The days are long, 14 hour days, etc, and the constant rush of adrenaline and you want to get it right; you want to get it right every day, every moment of the day because you are going to be judged. You are always judged, constantly, as soon as you walk in the door you are judged or on the stage, so yeah. And then I had my friend and stunt double from the days of James Bond, Mark Martram, he came over and he brought a gang of the guys who I have known, great stuntmen, great fighters, good car guys, bike guys, and they really honed the sequences and the people of Belgrade and Serbia really embraced us. They opened all the doors for us, buildings, mansions and palaces and the backstreets. So we had good energy and great people looking after us.
Q: It sounds like you got a whole bunch of projects coming up. What would you say is the key for longevity in this business as a leading man?
BROSNAN: Just hard work. Just constant doing, and a little bit of luck along the way and knowing the right people, finding the right material, trying to think ahead and yeah, I have done this now for a long time and so standing there the other night outside the Hollywood Mann Chinese Theatre, was just exhilarating. To look over and see my sons, and then to look up and see the image of Robin Williams, beautiful. Lovely Robin, wow, it was just captivating. It was one of those moments that just humbles you and lives with you forever, and the deep sorrow and sadness of our days because of his passing and to see him on the electric screen and then to see that wipe away and my face come on as November Man, those are moments that are cherished.
Q: How do you balance the exhilaration and the judgment? You said you are judged all the time, so how do you balance this pressure to keep healthy?
BROSNAN: Keep a simple life, have a great wife, beautiful boys, go home. At home, I ain’t the boss, (laughter) and to have good friends and I try to keep it as simple as possible and enjoy life and just love people. I get out, I don’t sequester myself away anywhere and that’s my job. It’s just a job but it’s a glorious job. It’s like a hobby actually, but I get paid for it. And that’s it really, just a working actor really.
Q: You are also a producer. What’s it like bringing projects you like to the screen?
BROSNAN: You have to be as tough as old boots. You have to have great tenacity and courage and forbearance to traverse the financial waters. But there’s money, there’s money out there and if you have the balls to stay in the game and the courage to do it and you can get your movie made. And if this makes good business, then it will allow me maybe to do another one, or maybe come back and try and do Thomas Crown, which has been on the cards for a long time. I might be able to get in just under the wire on that one, before the clock ticks too far past the hour of believability with a younger woman. (laughter) Whatever, I don’t know, but we will write it accordingly. I love making them and it’s just a thrill to do and then you find other ways to make your money.
Q: What’s your opinion on getting older and action movies?
BROSNAN: Well the body will tell you, or the audience will tell you. (laughs) They will be pretty vocal about it, ‘Sorry, times up, get off the stage. Just play granddads, just be the age you are.’ And that’s probably closer than I think. (laughter) Maybe, who knows? You never know.
Q: Do you still think you have some left in you to do this?
BROSNAN: Oh God willing, yes. To do this kind of work well, you will have noticed that there’s a younger man in this game. (laughter) So yeah. So it goes back to days off. If we were to go through this again, you send a younger man out there. I will just deal with the woman this time out. (laughter)
Q: You said once that you enjoyed sex scenes in a movie and there were not many here.
BROSNAN: None, there was none. We just thought, well it wouldn’t be appropriate to look for your daughter and be having sex on the side. (laughter) Brushing my teeth was about as sexy as it got there in that moment, in that bedroom scene. But you are not quite sure if they have or if they haven’t. It’s kind of intimated at. She’s in bed, I am in the same room, but we just thought to keep to same through line of a father trying to get his daughter back. However, if there were to be another one... (laughter) we shall see.
Q: Did you share some Bond experiences with Olga?
BROSNAN: Not really, I mean, we talked briefly about our days doing the Bond and my doing the Bonds, but not really.
Q: Was it a coincidence that she ended up in this movie with your shared Bond history? People will make that link.
BROSNAN: They will make that link, but we wrote it for her and the idea was suggested and I loved the idea because of her lineage with Bond and mine and I think there’s a nice blending on the palate of characters of actors and Olga has never been better, I think. It was great to watch her inhabit this character and play the duality and sit on the emotion of who she was, and the secrets of what she endured. She’s a young woman and she’s got the beauty and the grace to go on and really be a fine actor if she chooses.
Q: You managed to shake the label which is very difficult to get rid of and Olga managed to do it also. Is it something that you actively tried to do or did it happen naturally?
BROSNAN: Well you have to be aware of it and I was fully cognisant of it when I signed up to play Bond that if I were to make a success of it then I would have the devil to pay to reinvent myself. So I was aware of that because I had seen similar men go down the same road. And it’s such an iconoclastic role, and so big and all pervading over a man’s life. It’s like being ambassador to a small country. (laughter) And you kind of have to hold it lightly, wear it with pride and surrender to it and not be tripped by any ego or fear. And just have the utmost confidence and the tenacity and a sense of that you can go on and create other worlds. I will always be one of the Bonds, the Irish Bond, whatever. (laughter) And it’s the gift that keeps giving because it allows you to move through the fare in a really glorious way, anywhere in the world, I mean anywhere in the world. It’s staggering and never ceases to amaze me wherever I may be. And I remember doing the press conference for Golden Eye and I was going off to New Guinea actually to make a movie, Robinson Crusoe, so I had a beard. So the press conference was a baptism by fire, and it was just a room there in a hotel in London with 600 members of the world press, and I just remembered finishing the day’s work and going back to my little hotel which I have always stayed at, and I was laying on the bed and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I done? What have I said yes to?’ And I woke up that next morning and I got all the press and there was my life laid out, old girlfriends, everything. Went on the plane, went to Papua New Guinea, I am jogging through the bush the next day, and these kids went, ‘James Bond!’ (laughter) And it was just the tentacle of that man and what it means to everyone. So it’s a wonderful celebration for an actor and if you go to higher ground, you can only go to higher ground with it. Then you can endure and go on and have fun and make a career and make a life.
Q: Do you still enjoy it?
BROSNAN: Yeah, you know what to expect going in. If you are highly against that and if you give that any resistance or any negative energy, then it will just eat you up. It will just evaporate. And so you celebrate. I was honoured to it and I was proud to do it. I got away with it and saved the world four times. (laughter) Gosh darn!