This is one of those interviews where there’s so little doubt that you already know who Pierce Brosnan is, it seems appropriate to go ahead an forgo a long-winded explanation. (When you’re writing about one of the six actors who have played James Bond, there’s that luxury.) Though, when talking to Pierce Brosnan, there is a sense that interviews are not his favorite pastime. Now, this would make him a totally normal person (if being interviewed is something a person starts enjoying it might be time for a self-assessment), but Brosnan has a way of relaying this that, in a weird way, is kind of endearing. He’s not mean, but at times it just felt like he’d much rather be anywhere else than talking to me and I found that extremely relatable. (As the interview began he literally told me his wife was waiting on him next door at a restaurant.)
Brosnan is promoting The Foreigner, a film in which he reteams with his GoldenEye director Martin Campbell and co-stars with Jackie Chan. Brosnan plays Liam Hennessey, a British government official with past ties to the IRA. When a bomb kills a man’s daughter (the father is played by Chan), he seeks out Hennessey for answers as a game of tug-of-war breaks out between the two as they look for the truth.
Ahead, Brosnan puts up with a lot of my dumb questions when all he wants to do is in the world is have lunch with his wife. But, regardless, we still managed to talk about the GoldenEye video game, Remington Steele, and the upcoming sequel to Mamma Mia.
Hello, sir, how are you?
Pretty good. Not too bad. And yourself?
I’ve been told this is your sixth interview today, so that sounds like a lot. This is only my first today…
Well, there you go. No pressure. My wife’s waiting for me next door at the restaurant. She said, “Don’t be long. Who are you talking to?” And I told her that it was you. And she said, “Never heard of him. Don’t know who he is. Some whippersnapper.”
Well, when I’ve told people I’m talking to you, they all know who you are.
[Laughs.] Oh, they do, they do. You know? Well, I wanted it, I got it, so get on with it. Enjoy it all.
You did get it. You got it all. It’s a good thing.
It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. Well, you know, nothing comes from nothing. It’s just about showing up and doing the work.
You are good at that. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by a Pierce Brosnan performance.
That’s what my teachers told me to do, and God forbid I didn’t do it because they would just tear you a new asshole. And so people pay a lot of money to see you and they pay you a lot of money to do it, and so you have to honor that. And the joy of doing it is manifold. So thank you for saying so.
I understand that what comes with it can be annoying, too.
Ah, well, it’s not that annoying, for God’s sake. Having to dig roads at four o’clock in the morning is really annoying. But no, it’s been good.
This is your first movie with Martin Campbell since GoldenEye, you two work well together.
Yeah. He’s a good mate. We had a baptism by fire, the two of us, on GoldenEye back in ’95. And there was so much at stake for all concerned and everybody wanted to give 100% and make it great for the next generation, for a new audience. And it paid off. And the friendship lasted through that and we get on well together. We didn’t talk a lot. He just said, you know, “Darling, darling, I’ve got this film and I want you to play, it’s a kind of Martin McGuinness-type character.” He said Jackie Chan. I read it, and I love Jackie Chan. The script was really well founded and we talked a little bit about my ideas and I said, “Well, what about a Gerry Adams-type impression?” And so I worked on it and worked on the voice. Then we just got on with the work. And the first day’s work was a huge scene. It was this seven-page scene. So you go straight to the belly of the beast.
Which scene was that?
It was a scene where I come in and I admonish my office – I admonish my council – the men of bad doings. We get on very well together and we’re going to go do another movie here hopefully next year that we’ve wanted to do.
Obviously he did two James Bond movies, GoldenEye and Casino Royale, but do you wish you two had gotten to do another one together?
No, I don’t think there was any hope. It never occurred to me, really.
I guess that’s my job, when I see a movie I like I hope people keep making movies like that…
Yes. Well, there you go. You should produce.
I don’t know how to do that.
I really just, I never thought about it. But I was so thrilled to work with Martin again and he came bearing gifts in this character of Liam Hennessy. And you know, like I say, we have this other Ernest Hemingway story. So, good. It’s a nice relationship and it’s a good working one, and trusting.
You mentioned the voice. Was that a difficult voice? Because I know you have an Irish background, but I’ve never heard it in a movie sound like that before. What was that, because you mentioned that.
I listened to Gerry Adams constantly. I listened to his tonality and I listened to Martin McGuinness and I listened to their stories, the men and women from that era. And I just listened and then you find the voice when you connect to the words. It’s a kind of slow process and you go tentatively and then you just have to leap in there and do it. I had a dialect coach, a brilliant dialect coach from Northern Ireland.
See, that’s fascinating because I think of you as someone who can just go in there and do that. “I can nail this without any help, I’m Pierce Brosnan.”
[Laughs.] Oh, no.
I know that’s stupid I think that.
It’s stupid to think that. That is a stupid, stupid thought.
No, it’s hard work and sometimes it comes easy, but most of the time it comes with just a prickly sense of having to investigate yourself and look at yourself and think how you’re going to do it.
Have you actually ever played the GoldenEye video game?
People still talk about that movie. It’s still considered one of the best games ever made.
Yes, they do. And I did play it in the day, but I didn’t make it a habit.
People still play it. It is still very popular.
I strongly believe that and I’ve been told that. Well, it’s a classic. I mean, the movie is its own classic of its period and time, and I think the game definitely will be revered as one of the games and nostalgically remembered.
When I was a little kid I loved Remington Steele. I know it gets a bad rap because it’s known more today as the show that wouldn’t let you out of your contract to play James Bond, but how do you feel about the show itself?
I love the show. [Laughs.] I mean, I love the show, but I never knew it had a bad rap.
Maybe not “bad rap,” but just that it’s often mentioned in a negative way, like, “They wouldn’t let him out of the contract.” That’s the only way I ever see it mentioned now. But I think the show was really good.
Yeah, well, Remington, I adored. I mean, Jesus, it was my ticket to America! It was my ticket to this career that I have now and I was fully aware of my place in time and history and wanting to be an American – wanting to work in American movies, television. So Remington, I hold him in high regard, I adore the fellow.
You’re doing another Mamma Mia movie. You’re going to be singing again. Are you excited?
Am I excited? Yes, I’m excited. I don’t know if the people will be excited, but one way or the other I shall sing again, whether they like it or not. I don’t care what they say! I love my voice! I think that it will grow on people. They will always just want to hear a little singing from me.
People love that first movie. So I think the people are pretty excited to hear you sing again.
Well, the script is very good. It’s really well-founded and I think there’s something there for everyone, and I’m looking forward to joining everyone here next week.
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