Movieline (Nov/Dec 2005) Pierce Brosnan (Click for larger version) Movieline(Nov/Dec 2005) Greg Kinnear (Click for larger version)

Movieline: Mano a Mano 

Nov/Dec 2005

The Matador Co-Stars and Buddies Pierce Brosnan & Greg Kinnear Shoot the Bull, So to Speak

Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear greet each other in the lobby of Santa Monica's Le Merigot hotel like two friends who haven't seen each other since, well, yesterday. The pair just shared a flight back to L.A. from Toronto, where their stylish new caper The Matador was an audience favorite at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

"The thing that I hear consistently from people is, 'Man, you guys really had a good time making this movie,'" says Kinnear, who stars in the film as Danny Wright, a wound-too-tight businessman cajoled by Brosnan's boozed-up, gone-to-seed assassin named Julian Noble into helping him pull off a hit. "It's just some inherent quality that they get from the movie." Brosnan and Kinnear, who are both married with children, share a teasingly affectionate rapport that definitely translates on-screen. "We get along well, what with our Irish blood and all," says the Indiana-born Kinnear, who started his career as a talk show host (Talk Soup, Later with Greg Kinnear) before transitioning to acting with films like Sabrina, As Good as It Gets, Auto Focus and Bad News Bears. "But even if we didn’t, I don't know how much different the movie would be. We had a very good script." 

That script, by writer-director Richard Shepard, was sent as a writing sample to Brosnan a few years back. At the time, the Irish-born actor-producer was looking for someone to pen a sequel to his 1999 hit The Thomas Crown Affair. "I read The Matador and I was like, 'Forget about Thomas Crown for a moment. What about this?'" recalls Brosnan. "Richard's writing is very flamboyant and colorful. There's an undercurrent all the way through it, which is, 'Are these guys gay? Did they have some kind of dalliance?'"

"It's a little like Casablanca," jokes Kinnear. "Actually, I found their relationship very interesting because they're both dysfunctional in their own ways, Danny in a very traditional suburban conformist way and Julian in a midlife crisis way."

It's fitting that today's reunion would take place in a hotel lobby, because the first time Julian and Danny meet is in a swanky hotel bar in Mexico City, where the film was shot. "I've lived my life in hotels and hotel bars," muses Brosnan, who rose to prominence playing Remington Steele on TV before starring in four James Bond movies as well as After the Sunset, Evelyn and The Tailor of Panama. "The oddest thing I ever encountered was in Zagreb [Croatia]. I met a sniper. He started drinking and he just wanted to talk about the pain of it all, of killing people." Kinnear can't help but raise an eyebrow at that. "Oh dear," says Brosnan. "My life is like the movies." 

Dennis Hensley
Movieline (Nov/Dec 2005) Click for larger version GREG KINNEAR: When you read the script for The Matador the first time, did you remember that encounter with the sniper?

PIERCE BROSNAN: Yeah. That was pretty intense. He started out friendly and then he started talking about killing. It was very bizarre. Then there was a con guy inNigeria who ripped me off a couple of hundred bucks. He gave me a song-and-dance story about his wife and kids.

GK: [Under his breath] Sucker.

PB: I heard that.

GK: I said I'm a sucker.

PB: No, you didn't. You said I was a sucker.

GK: We have the tape here.

PB: you have a job now?

GK:  You know, it's always a little questionable with me.  Nothing's a surefire thing. [Laughs] Actually, I'm sweating it out in Philadelphia doing a movie with Mark Wahlberg called Invincible. It's set in the 70s, hence the 70s sideburns.

PB: I got a job. I'm starting a film in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called Seraphim Falls with Liam Neeson.

GK: I would not want that job because you're going to be on a horse. I'm not a horse guy. They're beautiful animals. My daughter is mesmerized by the quiet poetry of a horse. I'm just terrified. I had an incident at camp when I was growing up, something traumatic happened that has been blocked out of my memory.

PB: I'm sorry to hear that. I like horses. I like the quiet poetry of horses.

GK: That's the perfect parallel for our characters in The Matador, by the way. Like Danny Wright, I'm inherently cautious. 

PB: [Laughs] The two of us going out in Mexico City was pretty fucking funny. You'd ask, "Can I eat this? Can I drink that?" and I'm saying, "Just drink the fucking thing, man." 

GK: Well, you're gobbling up ant eggs as if they're chimichangas. I'm sorry, I'm a little leery. I need to pace myself when it comes to escaroles or whatever they're called.

PB: Escamoles! Ant eggs prepared in butter and garlic.  Delicious.

GK: And I'm the crazy one. [Laughs] What made me nervous about Mexico City was the security that was thrust upon us from the moment we arrived.

PB: You had your armor-plated SUV and I had one, too. 

GK: Yours was armored. I think mine was Zirconian. And didn't something happen to your bodyguard?

PB: He just disappeared in a shopping mall. He was doing fieldwork while I was buying socks. Still, I had an intensely happy time there making the picture. We were all very kind of huddled together in the hotel and everyone became fast friends. We played golf.

GK: We played tennis. 

PB: You're good at both, which pissed me off and it still does. You're so relaxed and casual and cool about it and I'm out there huffing and puffing and running after the goddamned ball. 

GK: You caught me on a couple of good days. I'm very sporadic. Now that my daughter has turned 2, the golf game has turned to shite.

PB: You don't get things done when you have kids. You get up and you say, "I'm going to do this, this and this," and by noon you haven't done any of those things.

GK: People might look at The Matador as you spinning the Bond image upside down, but as we were doing it, that was completely lost on me.

PB: It was lost on me, too. There was kind of a creative nag inside of me that wanted to find a way to turn that on its ear. But I didn't see any comparisons to Bond with Julian Noble. He's a very specific character.

GK: That being said, I knew it would be fun having a front-row seat watching you do some of the things that were required of you in the film. In the first scene, you're painting your toenails.

PB: And then I'm walking across the lobby in just a Speedo. I started my career doing street theater and mad, crazy stuff, so for me it was like going full circle. It was also fun because Julian's always drunk and stoned and Quaaluded. When you're in that arena, you can go anywhere you want. 

GK: Playing drunk is very tricky. There's no perfect formula for doing it because what would be drunk for me would be different from what would be drunk for you. 

PB: I've tried that "to play drunk is to not play drunk" scenario and that just messes with my head. So I just went for a strong indication of it. Indication can be good acting. You don't have to be in the moment. Just indicate the fucking thing. And a little tequila first thing in the morning helps. 

GK: Great on Cheerios. What were your first impressions when you first came to Hollywood?

PB: I felt extremely lucky as soon as I got off the plane. I came over, got an agent and stayed in the back room of his place. I went out on my first job interview in a Rent-a-Wreck, a lime-green Pacer. I drove over Laurel Canyon and went into CBS and they were looking for Remington Steele. I had been here for two weeks. It was like, anything is possible.

GK: I had a little of that combined with "nothing is possible." I came out here in a Toyota Corolla with a U-Haul attached. This was right after I had gone to college at the University of Arizona. I didn't know anyone out here, didn't have any contacts, didn't know what the hell I was doing. I was here for four months until I gave up and left and started selling lightbulbs up in Fremont, California. 

PB: [Laughs] Selling light-bulbs. I love it! 

GK: You wouldn't be able to look me in the eye and give me that comment if it weren't for the lightbulb hanging above us. 

PB: I cleaned houses. I drove a taxi, badly. 

GK: I shucked corn one summer in Kansas. 

PB: I was a chicken sexer. 

GK: A chicken what? 

PB: A chicken sexer. You have to separate the male and the female baby chickens. 

GK: Why?

PB: Because the females are better to eat. 

GK: How do you tell the difference? 

PB: Well, one's got a slight indentation. 

GK: [Laughs] So after selling lightbulbs for six months, I came back and got a job at a low-budget film company as an assistant. A year later, I got a job with Movietime, which was the precursor to E!.

PB: I remember you from Talk Soup. That was on during a tough time in my life, actually, when I was watching a lot of TV. I thought you had great style, very dry. I wished I was that quick.

GK: You never made it to my 1:35 a.m. talk show at NBC, surprisingly. You would finish The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and go running out of the building. 

PB: I'm not a big talker. You can ramble on about anything. •

[ Pierce Brosnan Files ]  [ Interviews]