Pierced Brosnan What to do when your interview subject doesn't want to talk? Get him mad
Former James Bond dismisses After The Sunset as `fluff,' writes Geoff Pevere
GEOFF PEVERE MOVIE CRITIC
NASSAU, BAHAMAS—Today's lesson in counterproductive entertainment journalism is called "How To Annoy A Really Famous Person Without Even Trying."
The subject is Pierce Brosnan, the smashingly handsome Irish-born actor currently most famous for the four films in which he appeared as the smashingly handsome superspy James Bond.
The location is a posh resort hotel on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
The excuse is After The Sunset, a heist movie shot on Paradise Island in which Brosnan plays a smashingly handsome jewel thief.
Step One: By way of introducing oneself to the subject, mention the fact that you last met him when he was in Toronto promoting Grey Owl, a biopic of the late British-born, faux-aboriginal proto-environmentalist which, as it turns out, is possibly the least favourite movie of the actor's entire career.
"Oh, God," says Brosnan, wincing. "You hit my Achilles heel, bud."
He slumps in a chair as though having been suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow. He describes how that movie could have been great and should have been great, but how it wound up "a blancmange of blah."
We're off to a smashing start.
Step Two: Invite the subject to discuss politics.
Having read that Brosnan recently took up American citizenship in order to vote against George W. Bush, I ask him what he thinks of then-current admissions on the part of the American President and Vice-President that there probably never were any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Brosnan unscrews a bottle of water and takes a slug.
Then he squints in a way that, in a movie, would suggest thought. In real life, as one quickly discerns, it means he's annoyed.
"Well," he says. "They're a bunch of (expletive)."
Then he thinks better of it, squints again and says: "(Expletive) is off the record."
I assure him that (expletive) would never get printed in our family newspaper anyway.
Reassured, he shifts in his chair. Outside the window, there isn't a single cloud in the blue sky over Paradise Island. The same cannot be said for the space over Pierce Bronson's head. There seems to be a cloud gathering there. It is black.
"Anyway," he says. "What's all this got to do with some kind of popcorn movie?"
Step Three: Attempt to engage the subject in a discussion of a movie about which he clearly has nothing to say.
By "popcorn movie" I assume he's talking about After The Sunset, so I shift to a question about Bronson's new caper film.
The one we're in the Bahamas to talk about. A question likes, I don't know, what was it about this particular caper film that interested him? (Not a terribly penetrating query I'll admit, but safely neutral under what seem to be increasingly fraught circumstances.)
"I was just looking for something to do," he says, looking vacantly out the window — where freedom and blue skies beckon. "As one does as an actor. I just have a soft spot for heist movies." Pause. Swig. Squint.
I hear my watch ticking. I remember that I read somewhere that After The Sunset was a project that nearly sank in the Caribbean until director Bret Rather (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) came along and bailed it out. I ask about that.
"Yeah," he says. "I hung with the project when it was going down in flames. And then in came Bret Rather and he elevated it to the wonderful sense of adventure, fun, popcorn. And so I stayed with it." Pause. Swig. Squint.
Abruptly, he sets down the bottle and leans forward. "And that's about the extent of the interview," he announces with a hearty slap to his knees. "There's not much you can say. It's popcorn. It's fluff."
I steal a glance at my watch. Five minutes have passed. The interview is scheduled to last 20.
Step Four: Ask the subject about the otherwise anonymous guy in the movie who made the audience of locals break out into applause when he walked on screen during the previous night's special screening of After The Sunset. Is he local?
"No, the dude lives in L.A."
Then why does the subject suppose the audience cheered?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- `I hung with the project when it was going down
Step Five: Ask the JB question. Go ahead, ask the JB question.
"So what's up with James Bond?"
Brosnan nearly bites the spout of his water bottle.
He seems to be swallowing his anger along with his water. In a moment, he is almost calm.
"That's been and gone," he says. "Been and gone. Finished."
Is it true that his four James Bond movies were among the most commercially successful in the series?
"So they say, yeah, so they say."
He pauses again, then catches me looking at him blankly — 12 minutes left.
"What am I supposed to say?" he asks. "`Mine were the most successful'? Okay, they were very successful films and each one seemed to acquit itself more grandly than the last. They've made oodles of money."
Well thanks for that. Was it Brosnan's choice to leave the role of James Bond?
At this point, I think I hear thunder. And it's coming from the cloud over Brosnan's head.
"That's a moot point," he says coldly. "And we'll leave it there."
Okay, but does he have a favourite of the four Bonds he made?
"The first one and last one. Bookends. Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies."
Okay, if it's not too much to ask, why?
Squint. Swig. Scowl.
"The first one because it was the first one and we were bringing it back to the world after having been off the stage for six, seven years. The last one because (director) Lee Tamahori had such a flair with telling a story. And it had an edge to it and it had real character to it."
"But enough of it that," says Brosnan. "That's more than enough, more than enough."
Step Six: Make the subject doubt your honesty.
"You don't seem to want to talk about Bond," I note with acute professional perceptiveness.
"You were told not to," he says flatly.
I was? "No I wasn't," I respond weakly. (I truly wasn't. But he doesn't believe me.)
"Well she (the publicist) should have told you. She told me everyone got told. I told her `I don't want to talk about Bond.'"
I tell the subject I'm sorry. I'm also about to tell him that he doesn't seem to want to talk about politics, After The Sunset, himself or anything else for that matter, but his eyes suddenly light up with the first sign of genuine delight I've seen in the 15 or so minutes we've spent together.
He's spotted his publicist at the door, the very same who "should have told" me.
"Oh," he says with a sigh of unmistakable relief. "There you are." For a moment, I think he's going to hug her. Instead, he just leaves the room. I look at my watch. It's taken a quarter-hour to make Pierce Brosnan dislike me. And that's without even trying.
I'm sorry. I love when he's in a pissy mood with reporters, it's so rare and human. Especially after watching all the TV interviews this week when it's hard to believe he didn't snap sometimes when I would have.
Grey Owl, Bush and why did they can you from Bond (probably the 100th time asked that day). Poor guy hit all the sore spots except for "your biography says you thought you might be gay as teenager, why?"
;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D I second Ace. The reporter is a (expletive) jerk, though a funny one. I do hope he talked with PB, though this Tomorrow Never Dies movie wonderfully directed by Tamahori makes me wonder...
Post by sparklingblue on Nov 12, 2004 15:15:25 GMT -5
My, that must have been at the end of a long, publicity-laden day for poor Pierce. And I think for that, he was still being professional, considering that the reporter asked some rather daft questions. He's always so nice in interviews, I always wonder how he does it.
Post by curious george on Nov 12, 2004 18:36:15 GMT -5
He seemed rather tired and cynical to me when talking to David Letterman, and the beginning of the Regis interview, also. But how many times can you answer the same questions? Then again, that's part of the business. Maybe he's just run out of steam right now.
On one of those junkets you can give 50-100 10-20min interviews a day, and since then he's been giving interviews basically non stop.
Letterman though... speaking of professionalism, it would be nice if he did some of his home work. Pierce has been on that show numerous times over a twenty year period and he's used the same stuff and asked the same questions before. First it was the his name isn't really Bronson it's Brosnan joke. Then his you did what 8 Bond films? Then it was the oh wow you're not English, you're Irish bit. Jeez I would have smacked him.
Brosnan explains how his cheeky style of acting was born
By BRUCE KIRKLAND
Pierce Brosnan's light-hearted performance in the romantic comedy After The Sunset has its roots in Remington Steele, the cheeky 1980s TV show that made him a star.
"It's a fun film," Brosnan says of the new piece of funny business, which wraps its romantic subplot around a jewel heist caper. "It doesn't take itself too seriously. There's a nice bunch of people, actors having a good time, you know."
Brosnan has been attached to the project for several years, long before Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) came on to direct, before co-stars such as Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Harris were lined up to get the plot motoring along on set in Nassau, the Bahamas.
"Why?" Brosnan asks rhetorically, lounging in a seat on the sun-drenched terrace of the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in Nassau, where the cast has returned for the press days. "I just thought it could be a fun ensemble piece: Have a good time, no acting required, just go up and throw it away."
That flippant approach is why he connects After The Sunset back to his TV series Remington Steele, says Brosnan, 51.
The Irishman then played a cheeky devil of a detective, a sophisticated European who worked in Los Angeles and preferred the finer things in life. Droll humour and sexual flirtation helped define his title character. And Remington is the role that eventually won him even more fame as the latest and now fired-retired 007 in the James Bond franchise. It is the same style that he originally stole/borrowed from Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy and also used in the popular remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, Brosnan says.
"So I have played the note, that style, for a long time. And, if I can keep doing it for a number more years, I'll be a very happy man. It's a style of acting I guess that I've found for myself. And there's no shame about it. You say: 'This seems to work! People seem to be buying it.' And then you make it your own."
But, working on Remington Steele, Brosnan had a lot to learn. His background was drama on the London stage. He had never done light comedy for TV. He was feeling stressed about the role. His then wife -- the late Cassandra Harris ("God bless her," Brosnan says gently when he mentions her) -- was the catalyst to get him to change styles. She forced Brosnan to rehearse Remington scenes for her.
Brosnan remembers the pained reaction: "She said: 'What are you doing? You're too serious. It's dreadful! Stop it! Just be yourself. Just be funny, like you are with the family.' And I thought: 'Okay!' That's how I played it then and it seems (to have worked). It's 'being' in the role."
Because the style worked for him in the TV show, because it worked again in The Thomas Crown Affair and the 007 movies, Brosnan says the style is useful in any light comedy-action project, including in After The Sunset.
"There's no complexity to it," he says about the heist plot of After The Sunset and the double-crossing comic and romantic bits that set the tone of the piece. "But you dress it up, you do it on a beautiful stage (the Bahamas), put music on it, and it is what it is. It's entertainment."
It's sexy entertainment, thanks to the way that "bad boy" Ratner shot Hayek in her provocative scenes, says Brosnan. "It is sexy. It was meant to be sexy. You want to turn people on. I mean, that's the joy of it all, isn't it?"
Is it true that the first movie you saw as a kid growing up in Ireland was "Goldfinger"?
Oh, yes. I was 11 years old. I remember the girl, the lovely gold girl. I was a county boy, green as grass, and there was this naked gold lady. It was very moving to various parts of my young psyche. But actually, as a boy, I loved "Our Man Flint," with James Coburn, more than James Bond. There were more gadgets in "Our Man Flint," and it was a parody of the Bond films that drew me in.
What was the hardest part about playing James Bond?
Taking him seriously. You have to have the confidence of being that man. There was only one Bond for me, and it was Sean Connery. That made the role daunting.
After four very successful movies, it seems you are no longer Bond. What happened?
I went to them and asked about making "Casino Royale," which is the first Ian Fleming book. I had hooked up with Quentin Tarantino, who wanted to direct the movie. On the fifth apple martini one evening, he mentioned "Casino Royale," which is the blueprint for the psyche of Bond, and I took that idea to the Broccoli family, who produce the Bond movies. They have a way of doing the films, and they are not open to discussion --they threw my idea out the window.
But they still wanted you to make a fifth film?
Initially. And I said I would. But then in the middle of negotiations, they changed their minds. They never offered a sound reason. I was shocked. They said they wanted to go in a new direction. But they've probably done me a great favor. I can now concentrate on other roles.
In your new film, "After the Sunset," you play a rather Bond-like retired thief who is lured back into the game.
I like playing thieves. There's an elegance to their capers, and they seem to have a lot of sex.
It's true that your co-star, Salma Hayek, is semi-naked for most of the film.
That made me very happy. I know most actors say otherwise, but I like sex scenes. Bond was supposed to be this great lover, but I always found the love scenes in those movies a little dull. It's lovely to work out the fantasy of it all in celluloid and then go home to my wife.
Many women were impressed that you cast Rene Russo, a 40-something woman, as your love interest in "The Thomas Crown Affair."
The studio complained; they wanted a 28-year-old. But I am 51, and I think it looks ridiculous when you see a couple and think, why is he with such a young woman? To my eye, women get sexier around 35. They know a thing or two, and knowledge is always alluring.
Did anyone ever ask you to lose your Irish accent?
It's not really Irish anymore. I have my own sound. When I was a young actor in London, they didn't like it -- they forced me to play the token Paddy. But in America, I found my voice. It's now an international sort of accent.
When you've been Bond, do you think it's difficult for audiences to believe you as other characters?
Maybe a little, but really, Bond is an enigma. He's smooth and bigger than life, but he's vague as a personality. It's a little like doing a period piece. Look, I'm thankful -- the role made me an international star. I've been in the backwaters of Papua New Guinea and heard, "Hey, Bond."
Do you have any advice for your fellow Irishman Colin Farrell, who is one of the actors mentioned to play Bond?
He's a great bad boy. If he gets it, I hope he's prepared for a fight. Being an actor in Hollywood involves lots of things beyond acting. Charm really helps. And it's a good idea to incorporate a little Bond into all your dealings.
PEOPLE persist in mentioning retirement, and Pierce Brosnan is perturbed by it. "I've never even thought about it," he says, shaking his head. "I'm more focused and passionate now than ever before, more interested in where I'll take my career as a young man of 51 years of age. And yet I'm being asked this question and it shocks me to my core. How did this happen? How did we get to this point so fast?"
We're in London on the weekend after the Irish Film and Television Awards - at which Brosnan was presented with an 'Outstanding Irish Contribution to Cinema' award - and all anyone really wants to talk about is Bond.
Brosnan is here to promote his latest film, After the Sunset, but it's his last role that dominates. Or, rather, his loss of it. Bright-eyed, lean, salt and pepper only around the temples and fit enough to carry off a fashionable leather jacket look, Brosnan is quite obviously a young 51. But he's no longer Bond, apparently dropped before his fifth film and possibly because of his age.
In advance, I've been told that Brosnan is sick of explaining the Bond situation, but in reality he's willing to talk. In the manner of someone who's been hurt and can't quite make sense of it. Like the victim of a bad break-up who hopes someone else understands what wrecked a relationship they had imagined was going rather well. Brosnan's unbroken - he's not going to give up on a career that didn't really rocket until a decade ago - but he still seems baffled by it all.
"I was sitting in my trailer inthe Bahamas," Brosnan says, "and negotiations were going smoothly, as far as I was concerned. Then,the agent rang to say they'd changed their minds. Negotiations had stopped.
"And why?" he asks, drawing a deep breath. "They really couldn't tell me. They couldn't give me a solid reason, but they'd changed their minds. They didn't know where to go with it. They'd reached the end of the line. They'd call me next Friday. And I knew."
Brosnan says he did not take the sense of rejection on to the set of After the Sunset, although it is a film about a man who is ill at ease with the idea of retirement. His character, Max Burdett, is a master jewel thief who retires to theBahamas after one last job withhis beautiful fellow thief and girlfriend, Lola (Salma Hayek).Hanging around in surf shorts and regularly bare-chested, Brosnan in this film is quite unlike his Bondalter ego.
He tells me he didn't work out for this film, he "let it all hang out". He looks like a fit man in his 50s, a little loose in the abs, a little grey in the beard and probably the sexiest we've seen him in years.
As these things go, however, Max is offered - and struggles to resist - yet another "last" job. Like Brosnan, he's willing to "let loose", but not give up completely. The film is a romantic caper - "pure popcorn", as Pierce puts it - from Rush Hour director Brett Ratner, and, while After the Sunset is as easy on the brain as the eye, it allows Brosnan to prove he has plenty left to give.
When the Bond producers called, Brosnan didn't attempt to argue his case. You get the impression he imagined that would have been demeaning, humiliation heaped upon what was already rejection. I wonder if he struggled not to take it personally.
"Oh, I took it personally," he says with feeling. "How could I not? I've known Barbara and Michael [Broccoli and Wilson, the Bond producers] for many, many years. Our families have known each other for years, through births, deaths, marriages. But you take the blow, you digest it, you rise above it and you rise above it very fast.
"It would have been deeper and harder had the [Bond] films not acquitted themselves as well as they did," he continues, "but to think that your life is going in one direction and you're making plans for it, and then all of a sudden those plans change. Well."
Were it anyone else, you'd wonder if they would roll with the punch, whether the ego could bounce back after such a blow. With Brosnan, however, you have no doubt that he will survive. He has survived worse than losing a job which earned him enough money that he could retire now, should he so wish.
Brosnan's well-known personal history is a catalogue of blows that failed to break him. He was born in Navan in May 1953. His father, Thomas, left his young mother, May, when Pierce was only a baby. It was no time to be a single mother in Ireland and, when Pierce was still a small boy, May left for London to train as a nurse. So Pierce was raised by his maternal grandparents and, after that, was passed around between relatives and even lived in lodgings until May sent for him. In 1964, at the age of 11, Pierce moved to England to live with his mother and stepfather, Bill
'This last decade has passed with the speed of a flame. Its end comes with a sadness, it comes with a letting go, moving on. Ultimately, it comes with a great sense of achievement and love and excitement and some sense of liberation from that mantle of responsibility'
Carmichael, whom he loved and who took him to see his first Bond film, Goldfinger.
If Brosnan ever felt he didn'treally fit in to family-focusedIreland, he was certainly differentin England. "For some reason,"he recalls, "they couldn't pronounce my name, or didn't want to, and I was nicknamed 'Irish'. I wore that as a strong mantle in myteenage years."
As has been well catalogued, Pierce Brosnan settled down early. He was 23 when he met Cassandra Harris, a former Bond girl and ex-wife of Dermot Harris, brother of Richard. They married in 1980, had a son, Sean, in 1983, and, following their father's death, Brosnan adopted Cassandra's two children, Charlotte, now 33, and Christopher, 32.
His role in TV's Remington Steele wasn't exactly what he wanted through that decade, but personally, it was a happy time, which might have meant more to a young man with his unsettled background. Then, in 1991, Cassandra died of ovarian cancer.
How Brosnan dealt with his wife's death has some bearing on how you see him deal now with the Bond blow. While one is clearly more shattering and infinitely more significant than the other, Brosnan's handling of each shows a strong resistance to bitterness, an overwhelming ability to keep moving on, keep looking for the good in things.
Personally, for Pierce Brosnan, things came good when he met journalist and TV presenter Keely Shaye Smith in 1994. Their first son, Dylan Thomas, was born in 1997. Another son, Paris, was born in spring 2001 and, that autumn, Pierce and Keely married in Ireland, which Brosnan still considers home although he became an American citizen earlier this year.
"As fractured as it was, I had a wonderful life in Ireland," Brosnan says, when I wonder how he can embrace the country that treated his mother so churlishly. The previous weekend, he had graciously accepted his IFTA, had hung around later as many big actors would not, and even visited Lillie's, where he sang New York, New York ("badly") with Stan Collymore before the latter's alleged assault.
"You know," he goes on, "one plays it up and I'd be the first to admit that myself, but that I should be pulled back to Ireland in adult life fascinates me. I feel I am Irish, born an Irishman, lived an Irish life, celebrated and endured it from an early age. You have to acknowledge that, you can't reject it, you have to put some kind of perspective on it."
Bond, you gather, has given Brosnan some room to gain perspective on many things. The fame has given him financial clout, the freedom and flexibility to try things that would have been otherwise impossible. With his production company, Irish Dreamtime, he has produced and starred in films such as The Nephew, Evelyn and this year's Laws of Attraction, films that hardly blasted the box office but dealt with issues of interest to Brosnan, such as family and attachment and commitment. Real things.
"This last decade has passed with the speed of a flame," Brosnan says. "Its end comes with a sadness, it comes with a letting go, moving on. Ultimately, it comes with a great sense of achievement and love and excitement and some sense of liberation from that mantle of responsibility. And with Bond I was restricted in some respects, because I had no voice. I could have twisted myself into a pretzel suggesting that we be more bold and audacious, but they own the keys to the kingdom and they will fall or rise by their decisions."
This, it is worth noting, is the only note of anger in the whole interview. And you can't blame the man. Nor can you blame him for refusing to contemplate bowing out when he's only getting intohis stride.
"But there's no point in being angry," he adds and he should know. "It twists you and it goes nowhere. Love and only love, that's whatit's about."
Sometimes in life you get to sit in a room with two of the best looking people alive. For me that was Monday, at the After the Sunset junket. Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek came in together, displaying the same chemistry they have onscreen as engaged jewel theives moved to the Bahamas.
By the way, I want you to think about this - they were each paid millions of dollars to spend weeks in the Bahamas, making out with one of the hottest people alive. I mean, Hayek spends half the movie in next to nothing. I would act in this film for free. Hell, I might pay a fee.
If in the next few days you hear about the stars and director of this film suing the studio for a cut of the profits from the novelization of the movie, it all began in my room in the junket. We had been given goodie bags that included a copy of the book, and Brosnan and Hayek were shocked to see it, as was Brett Ratner.
Hayek: We have a book?
Brosnan: This is the book.
Hayek: Do we get extra money?
Brosnan: Yeah, right. Look at the contract. They’ve got the wedding scene in here, which is not in the movie. Actors are always the last to find out. [looks at a picture] Oh, it looks like I peed myself.
Hayek: I hope it’s a best seller.
Brosnan: Dostoevsky, After the Sunset.
Q: How was this film compared to others? Was it like a walk in the park, a vacation?
Brosnan: It was like a walk in the park with this woman. She just gives so much and I just love her to bits. I had the greatest time with Salma. And Woody. And everyone on this film. It’s a popcorn movie and one of the reasons I liked it is that it has many of the elements of buddy and romance and heist, and it tries to get all those themes going in the same direction at the same time, and that was a challenge. More so for Brett Ratner, and thank God for Brett.
I think both Salma and myself were anxious before the film started that we would have enough…
Hayek: Interesting things to do.
Brosnan: Interesting things to do as characters. We became friends through that process of working on a picture. We hit the ground running.
Hayek: I have to say I was scared because, I mean it’s an ensemble piece but of course it’s Pierce’s movie and we didn’t know each other. I was worried about the character. He was very supportive. I mean, scary because you don’t know him! You don’t know that if you come to him with your problems he won’t be “Honey, I don’t care.” He’s really sympathetic and supportive and wonderful.
Q: So if you didn’t know Pierce, how hard was it to get the chemistry going between you two?
Hayek: There is nothing you can do about the chemistry. It’s not like you take a shot of a special chemical so that it works with that one. We were born with the right chemistry.
Brosnan: We were born with it, Miss Hayek. A Mexican and an Irishman. What a combination. Brilliant.
Hayek: We were lucky because sometimes people have chemistry onscreen but not in real life and sometimes people get married in real life because they fall in love but they don’t look good together in camera.
Brosnan: We just hit the ground running. It helps if you like the person and respect the person and ultimately trust the person. So many times the ego of people just destroys what is really quite good on the page and possibilities of what could be good on the screen because of ego, because of he has/she has ego. It’s hard to really describe it. The egos were healthy on this. Everybody wanted to win, everybody wanted to look good, everybody wanted to feel good in their characters, and yet their was room to move in the piece. Because there was enough to round. I think Brett, again, did a very handsome job in coordinating everybody in the right direction.
But chemistry, like Salma says, is a hard thing to talk about because sometimes it works or it doesn’t work. Some of the things I’ve said can contribute to it.
Hayek: And everybody really wanted the movie to be good. So it was a walk in the park, but it wasn’t like you didn’t make the effort. You make a lot of effort! It’s a lot of hours. Sometimes it’s complicated. He said to me once, “I love to make something I know people are going to watch and enjoy and love and have a good time and have a good experience.” It’s true, you want the people to pay the money to see the movie and be happy about it. That’s the best thing that can happen to you as an actor.
Brosnan: It should look like it’s made up and thrown away and put together and have a casual breeziness to it. But that comes from work, from the discipline of work, from paying attention.
Q: Salma, what did you do to prepare for the role?
Hayek: I didn’t really prepare for it.
Brosnan: No acting required. I’m speaking for myself!
Hayek: No! I lost five pounds, worked out for three weeks – worked out? As much as I could, because my stamina didn’t give me much to work out with, because I don’t usually do it. And then you just – at the beginning I didn’t really have a grab on the character. It was helpful to just show up and have good people to work with. I just sort of went with the flow. I just sort of everyday showed up and tried to figure it out and went with the flow.
Brosnan: I think that’s Brett Ratner. I’ve said it many times – he came in with kind of a Herculean chutzpa and passion and wanted to make a very beautiful film and make sure everybody looked great in it. It was great having him helm the film.
Q: Pierce, do you find it’s harder to get excited about the scripts you see?
Brosnan: Heavens no. I’m still as hungry as I was at 24 years of age when I wanted to steal the world and steal the thunder. There’s been a transition in my life in which I have been liberated from something and now it’s, what do I do? How do I steer myself through a career that will have longevity? Because you have to work in life and I love my work. I love being an actor and I love the company of actors. You have to be sharp, nothing comes from nothing. I’m just as passionate and just as excited to read the scripts and say, “What’s going to happen next, is this the movie that is going to really do something or elevate me or surprise me?”
Q: When you’re making a popcorn movie are you conscious of it giving you the opportunity to do films like Evelyn, Pierce, or No One Writes to the Colonel, Salma? Stuff that you really want to do.
Brosnan: You want to be able to do as much as possible. I want to be able to do everything. I always saw myself as a character actor when I started out but then I was pointed in the direction of a leading man and I thought, fair enough. If that’s what will make a living for me, fantastic. You want to be able to paint on a big canvass and you want to do intimate pieces. Having my own company gives me a voice, gives me choices. If someone else had been making Evelyn, they wouldn’t come to me with that film. If someone else had been making the film I just did, The Matador, they wouldn’t have come to me with that film. Because I have a company and I read, and I go out and meet people, and I pick up the phone and I talk to actors, talk to writers, talk to directors, talk to other producers, and it gives me freedom. It gives me choices. And ultimately that’s what you look for as an actor, choices. So yes.
Q: You’re going to Scotland for your next film from your own company?
Brosnan: It’s a big picture called Lochinvar. It’s from the Sir Walter Scott poem.
Q: Have you committed to it?
Brosnan: Well, we own it. We’re doing finances and budgets and we’re working with a writer. It’s being pushed along, along with two other projects. It’s a Scottish poem, Sir Walter Scott, Young Lachinvar. It’s about the Holy Wars. With a love story. Ridley Scott is doing one, but his is very Ridley. But anyway, don’t know. Still looking for a job, you know?
Q: Salma, what is your exercise regime? How do you get in shape?
Hayek: For this movie I had a trainer. I walked in LA for about forty minutes.
Q: A day?
Hayek: About four times a week? For three weeks! And then when I got to the Bahamas I worked for another week with another trainer who tried to push me hard to do a lot, but I was – I didn’t do what he wanted me to because I was physically incapacitated to do some of the stuff he wanted me to do. There was this one day when I did my best because I wanted to impress him and then that’s it. I don’t obsess so much about it. Maybe for that I lost a couple of pounds but I don’t feel the need to look like that all the time. Hey, I’m not chopped liver with five more pounds! So don’t pretend it was some huge change, it’s not that much of a change.
Q: Had you been scuba diving before?
Hayek: I had been scuba diving since I was twelve.
Hayek: In Mexico, in Australia, different places. They are both divers too, him and Woody, so the only person who had to learn how to dive was Naomi.
Q: What was the scene you found the mot difficult to do?
Hayek: There was a very simple scene that I found the most difficult to do because we shot it about four times in four days in two or three different locations.
Brosnan: The pier sequence.
Hayek: And it’s not in the movie! I found it difficult because it was so simple and we kept reshooting it because we didn’t know what to do. We kept repeating the same lines on different days according to different – you try very hard to say if you can do something to make it work better so they stop shooting it. That was difficult, but it’s not in the film anyway.
Q: Did you guys improvise much?
Brosnan: We stayed pretty close to the text. I mean every now and then there’s the odd tagline that’s thrown into the scene or you find the odd line because somebody’s dropped a line or something, but we stuck pretty close to the text.
Q: Have you ever wanted to write your own scripts?
Brosnan: I’ve thought about it, but I never get very far.
Q: Are you guys citizens? Did you have a vote this year?
While hardly the most sparkling interview I've ever been at, things are ticking over nicely enough. As laid back as an afternoon after a session in a Dublin pub, Pierce Brosnan is discussing his latest film, After the Sunset, in which he plays a retired - or possibly not - jewel thief.
Though made last year, it's his first release since it was announced he'd been given the boot from Bond. 'I love heist movies and caper movies,' he says, explaining why he chose this from the bag of 12 scripts he'd been sent by his agent.
'I thought it had the possibility of being a solid ensemble piece and I could sense something there with the legs to be very entertaining.' It's all very standard movie puff stuff, but then he adds, 'but at times I just lost faith with the film. I thought maybe it was not what I'd expected.'
There's a deafening silence as he says this and, sitting next to him, you can almost hear director Brett Ratner's jaw hit the floor. Has his star just declared he thinks the film's a stiff? I'm sorry Mr Brosnan, could you just elucidate on this; you, er, lost faith with the film? Realising what he's just said, Brosnan leisurely scrabbles to explain what he meant.
'It was me, I couldn't find the character. I was very aware I was in a heist movie and I didn't want it to be like The Thomas Crown Affair. Really it was just that general actor's neurosis before they start filming. Brett was a tower of strength from day one.'
This is actually all a veiled reference to the 'creative differences' that led to the departure of original director John Stockwell who left a couple of months after signing on.
Ratner, whose past work has ranged from The Family Man to Rush Hours 1 and 2 and, oh dear, Red Dragon, came on board at the eleventh hour with what Brosnan calls 'a Herculean passion' and rescued a floundering project. So that's clear then, no slight intended. After all Brosnan apparently once told Ratner that if it was up to him he'd like him to direct a Bond movie.
So, although you probably wouldn't guess it from his laconic, some might say distracted approach to the interview, Brosnan actually enjoyed the experience. 'It was,' he reiterates, 'a fantastic job that will go down in the history books as great time. It's a great date film.'
Even if it does involve having to jump into bed with your co-star. No, not Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, who plays the FBI agent on his tail. It's all very innocent and one of the film's more amusing moments, but hardly the sort of image you expect from the lady killer who was licensed to kill.
'I had no fears about doing it,' he says, accent inexplicably sometimes slipping into Italian wise-guy, 'It was the first day of filming, nothing like jumping in at the deep end. But it's a very endearing scene. Very funny. The two characters are like Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote and, thanks to Brett who brought a great style to things, the film wears its heart on its sleeve. Woody and I get on well together.
'We've known each other from our days on TV when he was in Cheers and I was in Remington Steele. I like the guy and I have a great respect for him as an actor, we're good mates. We have the same kind of outlook on life and we even hired houses beside each other while we were on the island.' He chuckles.
'And Woody made a great leading lady; Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, there's a sort of natural flow.' It's not just sharing the sheets with a man that's a departure from the Bond image, there's that whiskery greying beard Brosnan sports throughout the film.
'Yes, as you can see I worked hard on the transformation,' he smiles.
'I don't know where the scruffy look came from. He's just a guy who's comfortable in his own skin. I live on the beach in Malibu and Hawaii so I have a sense of the style of island life, but really it was just to get away from the obvious Bond look. It worked for the character, I imagined him as some old hippie.'
But then Brosnan has always been shrewd about the roles he's taken between Bond movies. One thinks of things like Grey Owl, Mars Attacks!, The Tailor of Panama and Laws of Attraction.
A conscious attempt to make things as different as possible, perhaps? 'There's definitely an element of truth to that,' he admits.
'There was a consciousness on my part knowing that if I was going to win at playing Bond - and the alternative to not winning is very scary - then I knew that if I got it right I would be marked by it for the rest of my life. It sounds melodramatic, but you have to be aware of that going into an iconic character like that.
'But I love acting so I made by own company to create work for myself and opportunities that would not normally be there. I don't think anyone would have cast me in Evelyn or Matador, which is the latest film my company's made.
'So it was a very strong decision that because I had time on hand between the Bond films I would use it effectively for a career that would have longevity.'
Of course, he doesn't have to worry about that now. Having finally agreed to make a fifth Bond, he then found himself being permanently retired. Not that - at least in public - he's bitter about it.
'I had a great decade playing the character and I'm forever grateful for the opportunities I got and for being part of that legacy,' he says graciously.
'But everything comes to an end and falls apart, it's over for me and I wish them well.'
Whether he wishes them law suits is another matter, but, as part of an ensemble movie, it must take the pressure off not to have to carry everything on his back.
'I always cite the old Robert Mitchum adage,' he smiles.
'What do you look for in a script Mr Mitchum?' 'Days off.' I thought I'd have some on this but I found myself working just as hard as ever. These things look easy but they're not. Starting it is easy, finishing it is harder. We were just before Christmas and putting in 16 to 17 hours a day to get the work done in time.'
There's not been many days off recently one suspects. Brosnan, who's just been awarded an Irish equivalent of an Oscar for his 'outstanding contribution to film' in the country has just wrapped Matador (in which he plays a globe-trotting assassin who strikes up an unusual friendship with an average suburban couple) is already at work planning out his next two features, Instant Karma (a safecracker dies and is reincarnated as a series of animals) and Mexicali (a murder witness is lured into a deadly game with the killers when they kidnap his wife) and he's already talking about how he'd quite like to make a musical, 'something in the vein of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.'
Which brings us back to why, given the diversity he seeks, he's made a third heist movie.
'I find them appealing because they go back to my childhood and the films I grew up on, things like The Italian Job and The Anderson Tapes. The first one I made (Heist) I did because it was a good script and I needed the money and they offered it to me.
'The second was purely my own decision and a timely fit in my career. MGM owned the rights and I saw a way in for myself and how I could make it work. This one has thematic similarities to Thomas Crown and, because we had good success with the first, we're actually doing a second Thomas Crown, The Topkapi Affair (loosely based on 1964's heist movie Topkapi).'
And, a love of films about thievery aside, After The Sunset did have the added attraction of filming in the Bahamas ('I love the people... most gracious') and having to spend an awful lot of time around - and indeed on - a bikini clad Salma Hayek.
'I love her to bits,' he dryly enthuses.
'She's a gorgeous, courageous woman who's very aware of own sensuality and how to use it, she knows how to make people very comfortable with that.' He pauses, smiles, and adds ever so cryptically.
'Never work with children, animals or Salma Hayek!'
Hello all. Here is the rest of the Brosnan interview I posted early on from the Brit "lads" magazine FHM. I trust each of you remember the good parts from before, but if not, they're included. (Let's keep it all in context, shall we?) The same caveats about R rated content apply.
PIERCE BROSNAN: The Bond actor on the art of painting, fluffers, and lamping a mouthy Italian car thief.
FHM: In your new movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, you have a raunchy nude scene with Rene Russo. Is that your arse on screen, or did you select a tasty set of “stunt cheeks” from a line-up of actors?
PB: Hey, that’s my arse. It’s a good arse. I thought I’d show it before I turned 50, you know – while it’s still hanging in there.
FHM: Did you check it in the mirror beforehand?
PB: Oh, shit, of course I did! I didn’t need to shave it, though, because luckily it’s not a hairy arse.
FHM: The movie is all about an art robbery in a posh museum. Were the paintings genuine?
PB: No. The originals are insured for over a hundred million dollars, so it would have cut into the budget slightly if we’d lost one. We had fakes done. Mind you, they weren’t cheap either. I wanted to keep all of them after the movie, but the studio sent me a bill for $850,000, so now I’ve only got four.
FHM: Your own hobby is painting, so presumably you’ve sketched a few “candids” of the missus with her kit off?
PB: Yeah, I have drawn my wife, Keely, naked. And in that situation, who needs an easel – you know what I mean?
FHM: Do you sing in the shower?
PB: I might knock out a verse of The Mountains of Mourne, which is an old rebel song, but I leave singing in public to the professionals. It was my 46th birthday recently and Van Morrison turned up. As the evening wore on, he picked up a guitar and did Brown Eyed Girl and Have I Told You Lately? What can I say, it was the dog’s bollocks.
FHM: I understand you’ve laid off booze recently...
PB: Drinking is a wonderful way to live your life, but you have to moderate it or else it’ll creep up and bite the arse off you. Before you know it, you’ll be putting your hand up in a room somewhere.
FHM: Have you ever been so horribly wasted that you’ve woken up in a dumpster?
PB: The last time I really lost it was in Hong Kong. A bunch of us were at a fancy dinner party and we were taking these girls out afterwards. I said, “I’ve got my driver outside and he can take us to a club,” but when we left my driver wasn’t there, which was embarrassing. When we got to the club we discovered that this group of Italians had taken my car. I asked one why he’d done it and he said, “Eey, eet was a joke.” I told him, “No, it’s not a fucking joke, I’m here with my friends.” He said, “Eey, fuck off.” So I said, “Stand up, I’m going to clock you one.” He stood up and wallop, bingo, I smacked him. He smacked me back, and soon enough we were rolling around on the floor. But I have to say I don’t like fighting as a rule – it was my mate Ben’s fault, he’d been egging me on.
FHM: Do you ever want to whack a paparazzo?
PB: A lot of those guys just press your button and it's a very dangerous situation, because they want you to hit them. They can make money from that, so they're really aggressive. Sadly, you even worry when you're walking bollock naked from the bathroom to the bedroom that there could be some guy with a zoom lens on a roof a mile away. And I don't want my old chap appearing in the papers. Which isn't to say that on a good day, if the conditions are warm, it's not a very fine example.
FHM: So nice, I believe, that it's been on stage...
PB: Yes, that was in a play about a rugby team. I did it in Westcliff-on-Sea, and they were knocking the back wall of the theatre down at the time, so it was extra chilly. There we were, eleven guys, waiting to go on stage naked, and all the lads were bashing the old bishops trying to get a semi -- a nice, lazy way to make it look bigger before going on stage. Sadly, we didn't have any fluffers in those days.
FHM: Did you try that Chippendale's trick, where they tie a rubber band around the base to keep the blood in it?
PB: They do that? Well, that technology did not exist in my day, or the lads would have definitely popped down to the stationers. We did it the old fashioned way.
FHM: Did you get any good reviews?
PB: Ha, ha! Reasonable, as I remember.
FHM: As part of your healthy lifestyle, you sometimes only eat fruit in the mornings. Does this cause any “trouser trumpet” anxieties?
PB: The old flatulence problem is one I try to keep under wraps. I’m not as extrovert with the farts as some people. The real difficulty is when you’re in bed with a lovely leading lady …
FHM: What’s your technique? Do you let it out in sections, or “roll and lift” under the duvet?
PB: You just have to ease yourself out of the sack and stand in the corner. Try not to embarrass yourself or anyone else.
FHM: Your Porsche has the numberplate “ICYCALM”. Does that make people want to cut you up?
PB: If they did, I wouldn’t react. That’s the point – it means, “don’t lose your cool, chill out.”
FHM: Be honest, do you feel a bit of a wanker polishing it on a Sunday morning?
PB: Ha ha! Not really. I’ve had it for fifteen years now. It used to be on my Corvette.
FHM: What do you think of Austin Powers?
PB: Brilliant. Rave on. I love it. In fact, I was nearly in The Spy Who Shagged Me. The plan was that Mike Myers would open a door every now and then, see me, then smack it shut. Sadly, our schedules clashed.
FHM: The Franklin Mint apparently do a commemorative plate for every Bond movie. Have you got any on the sideboard at home?
PB: I don’t, but I should have. I’ve begun to pocket all the little props on the latest Bond movie because the collectables market is so big nowadays. I’ll stick them in the attic for a few years and they could be worth a fortune.
FHM: What’s the next Bond movie about?
PB: It’s set in the Caspian Sea, it’s got a big oil corporation in it, and Bobbie Carlyle is the baddie.
FHM: Does he give you a Begbie-style “glassing”?
PB: No, but he’s the best villain yet.
FHM: Bond is brilliant with gadgets, but which are you: handyman or klutz?
PB: I hate gadgets. I can’t fix my car, I can’t log on to the Internet, I can’t even play video games.
FHM: When Russian people watch Bond movies, do you think they sit there rooting for SMERSH?
PB: I haven’t filmed in Russia so I couldn’t honestly tell you. But I have met a few heavy Russian émigré types in the States – you know, the ones who carry a piece and probably have Mafia connections – and they told me they love the villains. They think they’re cool.
FHM: Do you have a gun?
PB: I’ve got a Ithaca pump-action shotgun. I don’t particularly like weapons, but I’ve got a wife and kids, so if someone breaks into my house I want to make a noise.
FHM: When you first met Cubby Broccoli, did you have a sly giggle at his ridiculous name?
PB: That name is something to conjure with, but he was a gracious man and he was very good to me. Hats off to him, that’s what I say.
FHM: Have you ever worked for anyone else named after a vegetable?
FHM: Is it true that your GoldenEye co-star Sean Bean is a dwarf?
PB: No! He’s not a dwarf, do not fucking say that! No he’s not a short man. Don’t even go there.
FHM: Lastly, you used to be a fire-eater. What’s the secret?
PB: Don’t swallow.
FHM: No, I said fire-eater.
PB: Ha ha! Actually, the last time I did it was on The Muppets Show. In rehearsal, I took a glug of paraffin from a vodka glass and blew a big flame, but the prop man said he had some stuff that was even better. It didn’t taste too bad so I agreed, but the stuff was like nitrogen and it sucked right back into my mouth. It burnt my tongue so badly that I sounded like Sean Connery for the rest of the afternoon. You know, “Schplendid, Misch Piggy.”
Interview by Grub Smith. FHM (For Him Magazine) Issue 116, September 1999. p. 114.
(Variety) — GOOD MORNING: James Bond in Legoland? I caught up with Pierce Brosnan, wife Kelly, sons Dylan, 7 and Paris, 3 Monday as they were driving to Legoland. Brosnan and Marine Sgt. Alfonso Villegas Jr., recently returned from duty in Iraq, were readying to pull a switch illuminating a 30-foot Christmas tree built of more than a quarter of a million Lego bricks. While the Brosnans arrived in a conventional car, Santa Claus landed via helicopter from Camp Pendleton. Brosnan admitted to me, "I love Lego, and Dylan has a Ph.D. in Lego!" As with all appearances (including TV), Brosnan accepts a donation -- for St. Jude Hospital.
Since I had Pierce in his car, it was a good time to talk showbiz. On the future James Bond pix, he said "It would have to come to an end at some time. It's best to go out this way--on top. They did me a favor. It's better than being yanked off the stage with a wooden leg.
Meanwhile, I'm taking some time off replenishing." He is also prepping his own banner, Irish Dream Time, "The Thomas Crown Affair II," "The Perfect Gentleman" and "Lochinvar." Coming up for a showing at Sundance is "The Matador," a black comedy in which he's a hit man who has a nervous breakdown. Greg Kinnear costars. It's his banner's fifth film. "We do one at a time when -- and where -- we think it's right," he said.
================================== Some info on the new project from the 1935 film from the IMDB:
Oh my, my, my - that FHM article Lauryn - where on Earth did you find it? Egads! I wonder if Pierce knew when he sat for that interview there'd be so much discussion of the inside of his pants. How does he deal with such cheeky (pun intended) questions from people? All a part of showbiz, I guess.
I thought I knew more British slang than most Americans, but there is some terminology here that bears investigation.