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
Matador was an audience favorite at the Toronto International Film
"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."
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]
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: So...do you have a job
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
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
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
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
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
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.
PB: Because the females are
better to eat.
GK: How do you tell the difference?
PB: Well, one's got a slight
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. •