indoor can usually
mean only one of two things: you are either very famous, or very
Or in Pierce Brosnan's case you are both. By the time the actor
known as 007 has made the short walk from the foyer of the Dorchester
in London to the table where we are meeting for breakfast, heads are
in all directions like a roomful of Linda Blairs at an exorcism. As he
sits down, offers a suitably firm handshake, removes the shades and
a beeline for the freshly squeezed, only one sound emerges from his
one that will be familiar to anyone who has worn the iron hat of
a tortured groan-cum-grimace: "Uuurrrff”.
that Pierce Brosnan,
suffering the after effects of a late-night session on the single malt
with family and friends following a screening of his latest film The
Matador, does not look like a normal person in the throes of a
The eyes still twinkle roguishly at our waitress, the classically
features remain obscenely unlined for a 52-year-old, while the hair
none of the dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards look traditionally
with the recently over-refreshed. A less talented observer of the human
condition might comment at this point, in compliance with the binding
for the compulsory use of the phrase in all Bond profiles, that he
neither shaken nor stirred...
has something to ponder
that would give anyone cause to rush for the Nurofen, namely the
saga over who will eventually star in Casino Royale, the next James
movie, the most successful cinema franchise of all time, lest we
and the most recent installment of which - Die Another Day-
about £260 at the box office.
sitting comfortably? Then
we'll begin. The rights to the franchise are owned by Eon Productions,
the company founded by late legendary producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli,
and passed down to his daughter, Barbara, and her half-brother, Michael
wanted Brosnan to reprise
his role as Bond for a fifth time, an unsurprising move given that
breathed new life into the series after it hit rock bottom with Timothy
Dalton's brief tenure, followed by a six-year hiatus.
But then other
names - Clive Owen.
Daniel Craig and others - began to be mooted as possible younger
Brosnan eventually received a call informing him that his services
no longer be required.
"They said they
didn't know how to
continue," elaborates Brosnan, reluctantly retelling the saga yet
"They didn't know whether to go younger, they didn't know what to do,
I don't know what the truth is. It could be as honest as that, but it
strange, especially as each film made more and more money."
scuttlebutt suggested the
producers dumped Brosnan because, having made in excess of
from the previous four films, he asked for the same to star in just one.
with seemingly genuine surprise, before embarking on a prolonged
"Oh no! Rubbish! Oh for God's sake! Bollocks! No way! No, it was a
round figure, of maybe £10m or something like that. Given what
films make, it's a spit in the bucket. I wasn't being greedy. The age
Bollocks to that, too."
But now, having
to bidding farewell to Bond, Brosnan finds his name in the frame once
Dame Judi Dench, who has played the frosty M since Goldeneye
been quoted as saving Brosnan will get a fifth outing. What's more, it
is rumoured that Sony, which has recently bought Bond studio MGM, wants
Brosnan back in the saddle.
"Sony are pulling
their hair out
over it, apparently," he confirms with disarming honesty. "I was in
offices just a few weeks ago. pitching Thomas Crown 2. They
'Come back.' and I said. 'It's not up to me guys.' I think I was just
up between the egos of the producers and the studios, really."
is that it's
all a carefully contrived PR stunt by Eon to ensure maximum publicity
the forthcoming film. It's a theory that Brosnan believes has some
"Maybe it is all a big, clever ploy, just to bang the drum," he muses
that curious brogue of no fixed abode, which flits between the west
of Ireland and America. "We've seen it over the years with Sean and
If it turns out
that he really has
been decommissioned from the role, however, who would he like to see
over? "Clive Owen I think has the chops for it," he responds. "He's a
fine actor. Although I don't know why he'd want to do it, because he's
already got a great film career going for himself."
And what advice
would he give to
anyone taking over the role? "Get a good attorney." he replies, without
hesitation. "Gel the best. Make sure you read that contract to the
letter. And have a wonderful time doing it. It's a great role, it's a
legacy to be part of. I am very proud of having done it. I have no
no disappointments. For me the glass has always been half full even
all this recent nonsense.
"Playing Bond is
like being an ambassador
to a small country," he continues. "You have to be mindful of it and
it to the hilt. I have had the time of my life, it's been the greatest
decade. It's given me a lovely lifestyle, a lovely home in Malibu. I've
been able to provide for my lads, good schools, all the kind of stuff
want to be able to do as a working actor. The fame? Jesus, you love it.
I love people - I'm Irish, you know."
recognising all its many
benefits, Brosnan remains obviously ambivalent about the role of Bond.
Although admitting that even now if they wanted him he'd take the part,
he knows it's limitations. An exception was the opening of Die
Day. which saw 007 imprisoned in North Korea having been tortured
14 months, leaving him unshaven (but not stirred) for the first time in
They broke him
down," he recalls.
"They took him out of the mould and so for the actor it's great to play
someone like that, but as soon as he got into the tie in Hong Kong and
cleaned up with the Remington product-placement razor, he was back in
fucking straitjacket. They're too scared to take him out of the bag too
much or have a real dramatic moment."
when Quentin Tarantino approached Brosnan over a few apple martinis
teaming up to make the next Bond, only for it to be rejected. "Can you
imagine what that would have been like?" he muses. "The bravado of his
work, him playing on that scale, would have been money in the bank and
Brosnan is equally
the etiquette surrounding Bond's sex scenes. "You're not even allowed
show a bloody nipple," he laughs. "It's pathetic. What Bond needs is a
good, palpable killing sequence and a good sex scene - and it doesn't
to be graphic, you can use your imagination. We had a good one in The
Thomas Crown Affair, a really classy, sexy scene."
All the same, it's
nice work if you
can get it. Forced to take his pick of all the Bond girls he's starred
opposite, could he choose a favourite?
"I think Halle
(Berry) is right up
there," he smiles, as his eyes go into twinkle mode at the memory. "She
is just a luscious girl with such a beautiful body and she's a good
too. She has a great sense of her own sexuality, so she knows it and
not for the first
time today, Brosnan tries to steer the conversation away from Bond. "I
don't know." he says, a little wearily, last night's exertions starting
to catch up with him, perhaps. "Can we put a bullet in him? Now!"
biggest limitation Brosnan
has endured while playing Bond is that it gives him so little scope to
display any sense of fun or wit beyond those humourless punch lines
after a foe's death.
does have a sense of
humour. This is, after all, a man who once voiced a psychotic computer
in The Simpsons and traded quips with a deranged leprechaun.
he is allowed a chance to exercise his funny bone in slightly more
surroundings in his latest film The Matador, the fifth outing
his production company, Irish DreamTime, whose most notable success to
date has been The Thomas Crown Affair, a remake notable for
better than the original.
Matador Brosnan plays
a burnt-out hit man who strikes up a relationship with a suburban
played by Greg Kinnear and his wife, played by Hope Davis. The film
that difficult territory between genres: part comedy, part thriller,
emerges with its dignity intact.
"It's a buddy
movie, really," opines
Brosnan. "It's a love story between these two guys who are both kind of
lost a little and one just happens to be a hit man."
Though it shies
away from anything
too raunchy, the film does see Brosnan engage in some sex scenes that
be off-limits to a well-known secret service agent - "The old doggie
I'd never done that before" - but it could also have been a very
originally was much more
over the top, much more graphic, sexually." Brosnan admits. "My
was really rather base. After we had the financing, after we had the
I jumped ship. 1 said. 'I can't do this, this is nuts.' Everybody
out, but I just got shy of it and we went back to the table and
it got better."
It would be nice if
the changes mean
that The Matador proves to be a hit. The problems in Brosnan's
life - the death of his first wife, Cassie, and the struggles he has
raising his children - have earned him a residual sympathy that means
crowd will always be on his side. More than this, however, he is a
honest interviewee. Nothing is off-limits, as evidenced when he reveals
the circumstances in which he lost his virginity. "I think it was in
Bec and her name was Harriet and she was also a luscious lass. I was a
late starter, actually, I think I was about 18."
"absolutely thrilled" with this, his second GQ award (the first was in
2002) he also betrays a sense of self-deprecation and self-awareness
absent from those who have spent any time in Hollywood.
trained as an actor and I
was led to believe that I had a number of performances in me," he
"The fact that I've just given the same performance, well maybe... If I
can get away with it, why not? But I've reached a point now where I'd
start trying to find some performances and challenge myself."
As he drains
his final cup of coffee,
I ask him what is the biggest misconception about him.
'"That I am
suave and truly sophisticated,"
he laughs. "I am a peasant. I've just done a good job creating a
for myself: a good job of reinventing myself or selling myself with a
persona. We all have to struggle, some sooner than later. You're not
to escape any hardships in life, so when you have them, you have to get
on with it and not be a prat about it, and not moan and whine about it.
I've had very good fortune, my life has been a dream, really, with big
dollops of reality thrown at me every now and then. If you pay
to it then hopefully it makes you a better person."
by John Naughton
Styling by Lucy