[Excerpts. Translated from French by Google]
Born in the United Kingdom in 1961.
A long time assistant of the other type-setters of the studio MEDIA VENTURES created by Hans Zimmer, he since has forged himself a solid experiment in the electro-orchestral kind, like John Powell. As at ease on films of action, comedies, dramas, as on cartoon films, he is one of the new sure values of the current music of American film.
At the time of its passage to the festival music and cinema of Madrid on June 30, 2006, we met the type-setter of SHREK and the WORLD OF NARNIA for which it was the first experiment in concert as a public. Return at one strong time of its musical career and on some of its key works, before approaching its projects for 2007 and 2008.
Among your one projects little to quote FLUSHED AWAY for Aardman and Dreamworks, then SERAPHIM FALLS of David von Ancken, film for which you will approach film of war tendency “western”. What can you tell us these films and of your musical approach?
I started with worked on FLUSHED AWAY there are three or four months, I wrote the topics, and the elements of the score. Then Dreamworks said to me recently that they had decided to change the history, and to change nature completely even film! I was thus a little in the expectancy: I left them a “ultimatum” six weeks to arrange the things… When I am engaged, it is necessary to be ready!
That inevitably freed me a little time in my schedule, and as a result I preferred in the meantime to move towards a smaller budgeted film: SERPAPHIM FALLS. I really adored script, it is exceptional. There is very little dialogue, only one vote which describes the landscape, the mountains and snow, and only two characters in film, interpreted by Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson. You will discover there Pierce Brosnan very rough, not at all in the style of James Bond! The film is held at the end of the American civil war, but it is not really a western in the classical sense of the term, nor a film of war. It is a very naturalist film, that describes the beauty of the landscapes of Utah, and the music has a true narrative role in film, it replaces a little the dialogue. I am unaware if the public will like it, because it is not a large film to several million dollars, but it is the first film of the David van Ancken, and it is really a very good film. I wrote the music very quickly, in three-four time weeks, and now I work again on FLUSHED AWAY.
Will there be a CD for SERAPHIM FALLS?
For the moment, we're seeking a distributor for the film. But I do not know if I want really to do a disc for this score: the music is very atmospheric, and not at all melodic. There are natural sounds, a beautiful atmosphere which I like much, but I am not sure that it is very interesting to listen on CD.
Parmi vos projets on peu citer FLUSHED AWAY pour Aardman et Dreamworks, puis SERAPHIM FALLS de David von Ancken, film pour lequel vous allez aborder le film de guerre tendance « western ». Que pouvez-vous nous dire de ces films et de votre approche musicale ?
J'ai commencé à travaillé sur FLUSHED AWAY il y a trois ou quatre mois, j'ai écrit les thèmes, et les éléments du score. Puis Dreamworks m'a dit récemment qu'ils avaient décidé de changer l'histoire, et de changer complètement la nature même du film ! J'étais donc un peu dans l'expectative : je leur ai laissé un "ultimatum" de six semaines pour arranger les choses...
Quand on m'engage, il faut être prêt ! Cela m'a inévitablement débloqué un peu de temps dans mon planning, et du coup, j'ai préféré me diriger vers un film à plus petit budget entre temps : SERPAPHIM FALLS. J'ai vraiment adoré le script, il est exceptionnel. Il y a très peu de dialogues, seulement une voix qui décrit le paysage, les montagnes et la neige, et seulement deux personnages dans le film, interprétés par Pierce Brosnan et Liam Neeson. Vous y découvrirez un Pierce Brosnan très rugueux, pas du tout dans le style de James Bond ! Le film se déroule à la fin de la guerre civile américaine, mais ce n'est pas vraiment un western au sens classique du terme, ni un film de guerre. C'est un film très naturaliste, qui décrit la beauté des paysages de l'Utah, et la musique a un véritable rôle narratif dans le film, elle remplace un peu les dialogues. J'ignore si le public aimera, car ne c'est pas un gros film à plusieurs millions de dollars, mais c'est le premier film du David van Ancken, et c'est vraiment un très bon film. J'ai écrit la musique très rapidement, en trois-quatre semaines, et maintenant je travaille à nouveau sur FLUSHED AWAY.
Il y aura-t-il un CD pour SERAPHIM FALLS ?
Pour l'instant, nous cherchons un distributeur pour le film. Mais je ne sais pas si j'ai réellement envie de sortir le disque de ce score : la musique est très atmosphérique, et pas du tout mélodique. Il y a des sons naturels, une belle atmosphère que j'aime beaucoup, mais je ne suis pas sûr que ce soit très intéressant à écouter sur CD.
Hollywood's heavyweights may be well versed in playing all sorts of roles - goodies, baddies, heroes, psychos - but few of them are any good at acting the maggot.
The Irish, however, excel at this particular activity, as proved by the refreshing spectacle of Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan skylarking about the Toronto Film Festival like two schoolboys on the mitch. The pair, who co-star in an upcoming western,Seraphim Falls, behaved in a most un-starlike manner by appearing to actually enjoy themselves on a night out. They ate and drank heartily, took the piss out of each other and rewarded the posse of paparazzi with a staged scrap in the street.
Perhaps they were just glad to be still in one piece. At a festival press conference, the two actors described the conditions on the shoot as ranging from "pretty brutal" to "terrifying".
The film was shot in New Mexico and Oregon, and the going was tough enough to leave even James Bond and a Jedi master a little shaken and stirred.
While filming in Oregon in the depths of January, Brosnan was fastened to a harness and instructed to jump off a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls, into a river as cold as minus 36 C - something even the Navy Seals in the area wouldn't do.
The film's director David Von Anken explained: "The people we had with us to protect everybody said the life expectancy in the river was four minutes without a dry suit on," he said.
Even Neeson said that his buddy drew the short straw. "Pierce had to get in the water quite a few times and be naked and stuff. I always had my bearskin coat on. He had it rougher than I did," he confessed.
What kind of western is this, anyway? Pierce Brosnan naked and Liam Neeson running around in a bearskin? Sounds more like a must-see chick-flick to me...
TWO of Ireland's biggest Hollywood stars were photographed brawling outside a Toronto restaurant, but as the the pair do so well, they were only acting for the cameras.
Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson hooked up at the Toronto International Film Festival and had dinner at posh eatery, Soto Soto, in the Canadian city's trendy Yorkville area where stars such as Demi Moore, Brad Pitt, Cillian Murphy and Jennifer Lopez have been hanging their hats this week.
Inside the cosy Italian Trattoria, they guzzled red wine and ate pasta, as starstruck onlookers gaped at the two screen legends.
'It was really a kick seeing Pierce and Liam hanging out together,' one onlooker said. 'They drank and ate and the whole restaurant could hear the laughter coming from their table.
'They weren't shy about refilling their wine glasses and I think they both had a buzz on by the time they finally left the restaurant.'
Brosnan and Neeson, an amateur boxer in his youth, were promoting their new western, Seraphim Falls.
It is the first time the two have shared the screen together and the movie is getting alot of buzz.
But when the dynamic duo exited the restaurant, they were met by a throng of snappers.
'Pierce and Liam came out onto the street and started smiling and posing, and Pierce said, "you don't think I'd have dinner with this guy?" and then the two of them started hamming it up and having a fake fight,' an onlooker said.
Brosnan even puffed on a cigarette. 'Make no mistake, these guys were having a lot of fun. I can only imagine what kind of time they had filming that movie,' said the onlooker.
Despite the laughter from their table, the source said, 'both were perfect gentlemen with impeccable manners.' Seraphim Falls, shot in New Mexico, is the story of a U.S. Civil War Confederate colonel who fails to put down his weapon and instead hunts down a man to settle a grudge. Neeson will play an army colonel called Carver, who wants to murder Brosnan's character, Gideon, a former Union soldier.
Brosnan is currently filming Marriage, a 1940s-set drama and will start on another installment of the comedy Mrs Doubtfire.
Neeson will play Abraham Lincoln in a Stephen Spielberg movie about the U.S.
president's life and will also start work on the next installment of the Chronicles of Narnia in 2007.
Copyright © 2006 Daily Mail. Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Europe Intelligence Wire.
The movies that generated the most attention in Toronto were those dealing with political issues, writes Michael Dwyer , Film Correspondent
Although the media coverage of the 31st Toronto International Film Festival was dominated by all the star wattage on the red carpet - not surprising given that the festival is the best in the world and attracts celebrities in droves - the movies that generated the most attention were those dealing with political issues and reflecting on the edgy times in which we live.
One of the most popular films was Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, an absorbing documentary charting the repercussions after the group's lead singer Natalie Maines declared at a 2003 London concert: "We're embarrassed that the president is from Texas." Another notable documentary, The US vs John Lennon, deals with the former Beatle's five-year period under threat of deportation from the US because of his outspoken anti-war comments.
Spike Lee's four-hour documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts explicitly targets the White House for mishandling its response to Hurricane Katrina last year. The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair deals with Yunis Khatayer Abbas, a journalist who was working with a British television crew in Iraq when he was arrested, held and interrogated at Abu Ghraib and released without charge after nine months.
The hottest ticket of the festival, however, was Gabriel Range's provocative Death of a President, which had international distributors waving their chequebooks and had the press queuing in such numbers that a second preview had to be added. A fictional film meticulously structured as a documentary, it begins on October 19th, 2007, when President Bush arrives in Chicago where the streets are lined with angry anti-war protesters.
Having addressed a business forum at a downtown hotel, the president is leaving the building when he is fatally shot. What follows is speculative, involving a rush to judgment when a Syrian immigrant becomes the prime suspect. Tensions rise in the Middle East and president Cheney introduces draconian amendments to the Patriot Act.
Range's film seamlessly blends archival footage (raising questions in the process about media manipulation) and interviews with fictional White House aides and security agents. The build-up to the assassination is remarkably effective, skilfully building suspense in the style of a superior thriller.
It takes a non-judgmental view of the president himself, prompting the viewer to care for his plight as the gunman prepares to strike. The film - on which prolific Irish film-maker Ed Guiney is one of the producers - was sold in Toronto to distribution companies around the world, although it will go directly to television here when Channel 4 screens it next month.
ACTOR, WRITER AND director Emilio Estevez employs a similar technique on an elaborate scale to confront a real-life assassination in Bobby, which is set at the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles over the course of a single day, June 4th, 1968, culminating in the killing of presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.
As with Bush in Range's film, Kennedy is featured exclusively - and extensively - through archival material, in this case chosen to celebrate his idealism and all the promise he offered in those turbulent times, when the US was involved in another unpopular war, in Vietnam.
Estevez layers his movie with multiple overlapping stories involving fictional characters in the hotel on the day, and this proves distracting initially as it brings on so many well-known actors. There's William H Macy as the hotel manager, with Sharon Stone as his beautician wife, Christian Slater as his racist catering manager, Anthony Hopkins as the lonely, retired hotel doorman, Demi Moore as an alcoholic singer and Estevez himself as her husband, Ashton Kutcher as a hippie resident who turns two naÃ¯ve young Kennedy campaigners on to LSD, Lindsay Lohan as a bride marrying a friend (Elijah Wood) to save him from Vietnam, and the excellent Freddy Rodriguez as an immigrant working a double shift in the kitchen.
Espousing the liberal values he inherited from his father Martin Sheen (who features as a hotel guest), Estevez laces these neatly juggled storylines with heartfelt sorrow for Kennedy's fate on the day he won the Californian primary. His film raises the intriguing "what if" scenario had Kennedy lived to run against Richard Nixon in the presidential election five months later.
Yet another politically charged drama that opens on establishing newsreel material, the new Shane Meadows film, This Is England, is set at an unprepossessing English coastal town over the summer of 1983, during another divisive war, this time far away in the Falkland Islands. The patriotic fervour fuelled by the Thatcher government is taken to violent extremes when a rabidly racist ex-convict (Stephen Graham) takes an impressionable 12-year-old boy (remarkable newcomer Thomas Turgoose), whose father was killed in the Falklands, under his wing. The consequences are unflinching and chilling in this powerful, necessarily violent film.
Extremes of wealth and poverty collide in Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering, set in present-day London as the King's Cross area undergoes an urban regeneration scheme. Jude Law plays a landscape architect whose hi-tech office is burgled several times, bringing him into contact with one of the thieves, a 15-year-old boy (Rafi Gavron) who lives with his mother (Juliette Binoche), a struggling Bosnian refugee. Although it relies on a few coincidences too many, this strand of the movie proves far more interesting than the problems in the architect's strained relationship with his wife, a Swedish documentary-maker wanly played by Robin Wright Penn.
The illegal trafficking of immigrants is the timely theme of writer-director Steve Hudson's bleak first feature film, True North, featuring Gary Lewis as a Scottish trawler owner faced with losing his boat. His son (Martin Compston, very impressive) accepts a lucrative offer to smuggle a dozen Chinese immigrants on the hazardous journey home from Ostend. Peter Mullan and Steven Robertson complete the trawler crew in a grim drama that vividly captures the fear and desperation of the immigrants. The film was shot (under the title Dragnet) on the eastern and southern coasts of Ireland.
Two Irish actors born within a year of each other in the early 1950s, Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan, take the leading roles in David Von Ancken's striking western, Seraphim Falls, set in the aftermath of the American civil war. This handsomely photographed film takes the form of an extended chase involving two men who fought on opposite sides in the war, with Brosnan as the prey and Neeson his dogged pursuer. Dialogue is minimal in this gripping action movie with an underlying anti-war theme.
After 20 years working on such Hollywood blockbusters as Total Recall, RoboCop and Basic Instinct, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven returns home for Black Book, a war movie set in 1944-45 during the German occupation. Inspired by factual events, it features the spirited Carice van Houten as a resourceful young Jewish woman willing to do anything to survive, even if this entails having sex with Nazi officers. Verhoeven skilfully orchestrates the many vigorous action sequences while indulging one of his primary preoccupations in liberally peppering the picture with nudity and sex scenes.
The sex in the Australian psychological drama, The Book of Revelation, is aptly anti-erotic, given that its theme is the abduction of a ballet dancer who is subjected to rape and sexual humiliation. The twist is that the dancer is male and his abductors are women. Played by Tom Long, he finds himself incapable of expressing the details of his traumatic experience in a film that's as bold and confrontational as Head On, the previous picture from writer-director Ana Kokkinos.
Monsoon Wedding director Mira Nair continues to pursue her interest in contemporary Indian identity in the acutely observed and thoroughly engaging serious comedy, The Namesake, based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, who has a cameo role. It spans three decades from the 1970s, when a young bride (Tabu) leaves the warmth of family life in Calcutta for the lonely, unfamiliar surroundings of New York. The dramatic focus eventually shifts to her son (Kal Penn), who has assimilated the American way and has to choose between his devoted white lover and a confident young woman who shares his Indian heritage. Penn reveals a depth and maturity untapped in the silly comedy, Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies.
Ethan Hawke's second film as a director (after the pretentious Chelsea Walls) is the relationship drama, The Hottest State, based on his semi-autobiographical novel of a young Texan (Mark Webber) who moves to New York to further his acting ambitions. He falls for an attractive singer-songwriter (Catalina Sandino Moreno), but their affair becomes fraught with problems. Hawke features as the actor's father in this rambling, all-too-loquacious movie.
BY CONTRAST, Infamous sparkles with the bitchy wit of its subject, Truman Capote (Toby Jones), before it turns deeply serious in tone as Capote is drawn to Perry Smith (Daniel Craig), one of the two Kansas killers who became the subject of his innovative non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood. This is the second movie in a year to cover the same scenario, following Capote, for which Philip Seymour Hoffman won the best actor Oscar this year.
Directed by Douglas McGrath, whose screenplay is based on George Plimpton's book on Capote, Infamous is bolstered by a particularly strong cast that also includes Sandra Bullock (never better) as novelist Harper Lee, Jeff Daniels as the Kansas district attorney, Sigourney Weaver as New York socialite Babe Paley, and in a singing cameo, Gwyneth Paltrow as Peggy Lee.
Although McGrath's film is the equal of the earlier Capote in many respects, and there is no denying the fascination exerted by the story it tells, it inevitably suffers from a sense of deja vu. Unfamiliar English actor Jones uncannily captures Capote's personality, appearance and distinctively fey speaking voice. In one of the funniest scenes, he calls the district attorney's office in Kansas and the receptionist tells him the DA doesn't take calls from strange women. To which he protests, "I'm not strange!"
By: Glen Schaefer
POST BOND: He looks for roles that can make him a surprise
TORONTO -- Pierce Brosnan is lounging at a restaurant table at the Hotel Intercontinental, nursing a breakfast coffee. Just off a spring and summer spent mainly in Vancouver making two movies, and doing the festival rounds for yet another movie, he's laid back, stylish -- a relaxed-fit version of that character he played in those spy movies. He doesn't mind admitting that those movies gave him the clout to do whatever he wanted, but the routine got to him.
"In the early days of my career as Bond, I realized I could make films anywhere in the world," Brosnan says, in a meandering conversational mood after premiering his new western Seraphim Falls for a festival crowd the previous night. That movie opens in theatres later this year. "But I kind of painted myself into a corner there with suave and debonaire."
Point out the contrast between Seraphim Falls's shaggy civil-war veteran and the chatty 1940s bon vivant he just finished playing in the Vancouver-filmed thriller Marriage, and Brosnan leans back in his chair.
"So what does that say? It just means I'm an actor looking for a good role, looking for a good job, just like any actor is," he says. "You want to be, hopefully, an unexpected surprise. At this point, that would be a mantra to live by, having played somewhat the same . . ."
He trails off and ponders for a moment.
"One was educated and taught and led to believe that if you want to play a character you must transform the physical being, the physical speech. Then you find yourself coming to America and you kind of play the same. You get into a style -- not a rut, but you find a groove for yourself. You go off and do a big movie, they say 'do it again.' You do it again, but within that comes a certain ennui. You're not scared anymore, where you used to scare yourself."
All of which led Brosnan from 2002's Die Another Day on the career track that ultimately landed him in Vancouver last March as star and executive producer of Butterfly on a Wheel. Maria Bello and Gerard Butler are also featured in a close-quarters contemporary thriller.
"It's a toughie, really, thrillers are always tough to pull off," says Brosnan, who got to play scary for British director Mike Barker and Vancouver producer Bill Vince. "It's about this husband and wife who get waylaid by this crazy, horrid psychotic guy. I'm the psychotic guy. For one day I hold them ransom with their child -- it's not until the end that you find out why."
Almost as soon as that movie wrapped, Brosnan signed on to stay in Vancouver for the summer making Marriage, a quite different thriller set in a 1940s American small town. Both movies hit theatres in 2007. American director-writer Ira Sachs resumes filming Marriage next month with Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson, while Brosnan finished his role in August as the questionable confidant to Cooper's married man.
"I just loved the character, it was so well-written," says Brosnan. "It had such a lovely Hitchcockian tone to it -- film noir, thriller, romantic, whodunit. We talk a blue streak, we just talk and talk, lots of dialogue."
Cooper's character meets his friend for lunch and tells him that he must leave his wife (Clarkson) because he's met another woman (Rachel McAdams).
"I look over my shoulder, and here she comes," Brosnan says. "God she's beautiful. She sits down and thus starts the story. It's really quite delightful. I'm the narrator of the story."
Is he also the story's conscience?
"No, not really. The burden of conscience does not weigh heavily on my shoulders, because I'm a rogue. But a sincere rogue."
Sounds like a fun way to spend the summer.
By JOHN ANDERSON
Pierce Brosnan, upright, and Liam Neeson in a scene from “Seraphim Falls.” In the movie, a post-Civil War western, Mr. Brosnan plays Gideon, a former Confederate officer.
“I knew there was a change coming, creatively, artistically, new beginnings, so to speak, with the Bond role being taken over,” Mr. Brosnan said.
IN “Seraphim Falls,” a revisionist post-Civil War western that opens Friday, Pierce Brosnan pries a bullet from his arm with a Bowie knife, cauterizes the wound, tumbles over a waterfall in a bear coat and immerses himself in animal entrails. Along the way he also manages to show how far a serious actor will go to outrun his own glamorous persona.
For many, Mr. Brosnan will always conjure up the debonair, Brioni-besuited James Bond, every crease a razor’s edge and every hair in place. “When you play a role like that,” he said in a recent interview, “you live with it forever.”
Still, those who saw him in “The Matador” were introduced to a more louche image, that of Mr. Brosnan’s paunchy hit man Julian Noble, strutting through the lobby of a Mexican hotel with a margarita, wearing only the tiniest black briefs, combat boots and a mustache. And to play his character in “Seraphim Falls” — Gideon, a lethal ex-Confederate officer — Mr. Brosnan was willing to be “dirtier than you’ve ever been,” said the writer and director, David Von Ancken.
“He just looked at me, and I knew it was O.K.,” he said.
A self-described “working, jobbing actor,” Mr. Brosnan faced a post-Bond predicament of a type more familiar to actresses: how to manage a transition beyond the easy allure of youth. Instead of clinging to what worked in the past, he reached for something new, and what may be the onset of a riskier, more varied actor’s life.
“I think he’s found his stride,” said Richard Shepard, who directed “The Matador.” “He’s not getting the giant paychecks, but he’s already made that kind of money. Now he’s saying, ‘I might as well start doing stuff that’s interesting to me.’ ”
What’s interesting to Mr. Brosnan right now is having six months off at his home in Hawaii. “It’s a very great luxury in any man’s life,” he said, speaking by telephone from the islands. “To be with my kids, take stock of things. I knew there was a change coming, creatively, artistically, new beginnings, so to speak, with the Bond role being taken over.”
“When you don’t know what to do,” he added, “the best thing is to do nothing.”
Despite a Celtic tendency for self-deprecation, this Irish-born actor has hardly been still. “The Matador,” “Seraphim Falls” and the coming “Married Life,” with Patricia Clarkson and Rachel McAdams, were shot before his current hiatus. (“I was astounded by the level of his craft,” said Ira Sachs, the director of “Married Life.” “He’s one of the great actors.”)
In addition a sequel to “The Thomas Crown Affair” has been announced. Irish DreamTime, the Los Angeles production company he founded with Beau St. Clair, is flourishing. And Mr. Brosnan recently found time, with his wife, Keely Shaye Smith, to fight the construction of liquified natural gas terminals off the coast of their longtime home in Malibu.
Nonetheless it is a time of change for Mr. Brosnan, 53, who parted from James Bond less than amicably. He publicly belittled the producers’ reliance on formula and may have hastened the divorce by pricing himself out of the role he’d played in four films since 1995.
“I’ve been off the grid here, so I haven’t seen it,” Mr. Brosnan said of “Casino Royale,” starring Daniel Craig. “I think it’s been fairly well documented, my feelings. I think he’s a wonderful actor, and I wish him the greatest success. He’s on his way to becoming a memorable Bond.”
Mr. Brosnan meanwhile is on his way to reinventing himself, even if the process has had its bumps. The decision to play a hit man who has lost his edge in “The Matador,” for instance, drew inevitable comparisons to his trademark role. “In some respects it made me look like I was thumbing my nose at Bond and all that had gone before, but I always had the greatest respect for the Bond character and the greater opportunities it allowed me to have,” he said. “But it was a straitjacket of a piece, in many ways. It did limit one. In the same breath, it has allow me to go off and create my own films, my own work.”
“It’s allowed me to have a voice as a, quote unquote, filmmaker,” he added. “As an actor-filmmaker.”
Understandably perhaps there was separation anxiety. Two months before shooting, on a Friday, Mr. Brosnan dropped out of “The Matador.” “On Saturday I was looking for real hit men to take him out,” Mr. Shepard said. “But by Monday he sort of sheepishly came back and said, ‘You know what, I just had a panic attack.’ And it’s to his credit that he realized his mistake and saw the opportunity the film offered him.”
“Seraphim Falls” is a revenge drama shot in Taos, N.M., (at an elevation of 13,000 to 14,000 feet) and on the cracked desert floor near Santa Fe. Produced by Icon Productions and distributed domestically by Samuel Goldwyn Films, it features two Irishmen, Mr. Brosnan and Liam Neeson, engaged in a brutal manhunt.
“Neither Pierce nor Liam ever really left the set,” Mr. Van Ancken said, “which doesn’t mean much to the lay person, but when you’re shooting an exterior movie with no cover, and you’re running against the sun everyday, the only reason it got completed in the 40-odd days we had was because both these guys never left.”
Another unusual thing about Mr. Brosnan is that “you usually don’t get a major movie star who’s willing to commit to a film where 80 percent of the role is spent being by himself,” Mr. Van Ancken said. “Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’ maybe, but very few else.”
Mr. Brosnan deflected the compliment. “I had a great time,” he said. “I remember one of my acting teachers saying: ‘Brosnan, you have to contact the other actors. You can’t play by yourself. You just act. You just give your performance. You’ve got to listen.’ So maybe some things haven’t changed.”
Mr. Brosnan left his grandparents’ home in Ireland at the age of 11 to join his mother in London, where she had been studying to become a nurse. He has lived in the United States for 23 years, and is now an American citizen. He has also lived under a spotlight few actors have had to withstand. Which is tough when you are, as Mr. Brosnan seems to be, naturally unguarded.
“I used to be so confessional in talking to the press,” he said. “And then life goes on, and you realize you’re spoken too much, and not very coherently, about not very much.”
But he still tends toward self-revelation.
“One thinks of oneself as being adventuresome and courageous, and then you look around and find yourself being rather boring and conservative, and that’s the last thing any actor wants to be,” he said. After Bond he realized that he had, throughout his career, largely been playing himself.
“And you get sick of playing yourself,” he said. “And you find yourself not getting decent enough roles, or roles that are exciting or roles that grip you and shake things up. ‘The Matador’ was serendipitous, so was ‘Seraphim Falls.’ From an actor’s point of view, they were good lessons learned.”
Liam Neeson: I touched the Bible Lincoln was sworn in on. I'm obsessed.
You and Pierce Brosnan couldn’t possibly loathe each other more in Seraphim Falls. Your war veteran character, Carver, really wants Brosnan’s Gideon to suffer.
Absolutely. As he tells his posse, “Extremities only.” Carver wants Gideon to suffer and of course he’s suffering too. Profoundly so – almost as much as Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, he’s living with the horror of a one-track mind. Revenge is such a sickness in our society.
Revenge is a timely theme but westerns aren’t as popular as they were even a decade ago. Apparently, it’s all George Bush’s fault, for presenting himself as a fake cowboy.
That’s interesting. But when it comes to my generation, we were steeped in the Western genre. Certainly as kids at the Saturday matinees, it was always Westerns. If it was a detective story instead, we’d leave in droves. It was like we were being insulted! But guys on horseback, and especially those really bad B-movies where Audie Murphy was playing the hero, I thought they were great. They were our version of the Greek myths.
So what was it like, getting back on the horse?
Well, I’m lucky because I can ride. I was on a horse while filming in the former Yugoslavia in the mid 80s. I was playing this character called Grak, King of the Pitts [in 1985 TV movie Arthur the King] and I had to ride into Camelot and capture Guinevere. I was on this horse called Drina who was 17 years of age; she was famous because she was Kirk Douglas’ horse. She would stand like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh – the most unheroic horse – but once she heard the phrase “And we’re rolling…” her neck straightened, her ears went up and from a standing start this horse went into a gallop. Then, when the director said “Cut!” she would go back to the start and go like that again [mimics Eeyore’s droopy demeanour]. It made me look good that she knew what she was doing.
This is the first time that you and Brosnan have worked together, although you were both in the running for Bond in the early 90s…
I’ve known Pierce for a bunch of years and it’s just cool to work with your mates. He’s such a good guy, just a total sweetheart. I was courted for the role of Bond after Schindler’s List, along with a bunch of other actors. But I was thrilled Pierce got it because he really wanted it.
Originally you were working as a builder in Belfast in the 70s. How did you make the leap from that job to full time acting?
Well, I was a late starter. I only turned professional when I was 23. I’d always been performing in plays at school and somewhere along the line I just segued into getting paid for it. It was wonderful – I’ll never forget getting my first pay-cheque for being in the theatre. And those days, it was at the height of the Troubles, so Belfast was dangerous. But that theatre I worked in never closed its doors. Sometimes we’d have to stop the show because there’d be a bomb scare. Soldiers would come in and search under the seats…
What was it that drew you to acting in the first place?
I loved the craft of pretending to be somebody else. I have always found it very liberating. It made me feel good back then – and still does. There’s something about the process that can be mystical.
When you get offered great roles of the quality of Oskar Schindler or Michael Collins, do you tend to panic at first or do you simply think, “I deserve this”?
There’s always a wee bit of panic for a few seconds, that’s for sure. Steven Spielberg called me up two years ago and said, “I want to send you a script about someone.” I said, “Thanks, Steven. Can you tell me who it is?” All he said was “No – he did live.” Two days later this script arrived and I’m just like a kid. I’d worked with Steven but the fact he’d called me up personally made it special. I opened the script and there was one word on it: Lincoln. My knees shook. Literally. That had only happened to me once before: when I met Muhammad Ali in the 80s.
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln… That definitely has a better ring to it than Oliver Stone’s Alexander.
I know. We’ve already done make-up tests. And I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve visited where he was born, I’ve touched the Bible he was sworn in on, I’ve held his wallet, his glasses, his penknife. I mean, I’ve had carte blanche. I’m obsessed with the man now. So… we’ll see how that goes [laughs]. And then I think I’m going to have to retire because I don’t think I’ll be offered anything after that! What else can I possibly do?
HE'S the first to admit his disappointment at not getting one more shot at the James Bond role, but a defiant Pierce Brosnan has emerged with all guns blazing.
The former 007 hero is starring in his first Western movie, Seraphim Falls, and says it's a boyhood dream come true.
"Doing a Western has always been top of my list," he says enthusiastically "I've always wanted to do one. I have murky memories of watching black and white movies as a child at the Palace Cinema in Navan, Ireland, and Clint Eastwood in the Man with No Name movies. A Fistful Of Dollars and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly had the biggest wallop for me as a cinema-goer."
The film, which also stars Liam Neeson and Angelica Houston, is set at the end of the American Civil War and tells the story of two bitter enemies, Colonel Morsman Carver (Neeson) and Gideon (Brosnan), and their relentless bloody quest for revenge.
The action-packed drama, which filmed on location in Santa Fe, meant that Pierce had to get back in the saddle, and at 55 he admits there were some gruelling moments out on the prairie.
"I used to ride a lot so I've always been fond of horses, but needless to say I had not been up on a horse in about 10 years," he recalls with a grimace.
"The first day we were out, we were up at full gallop. There was a party of six of us and we were taking a full bend when I could see, just out of the corner of my eye, this horse go down. It was Liam's stunt man and his horse had just hit a prairie dog hole. That kind of rattled us all a little bit because accidents can happen.
"It was a very physical shoot. We were in constant motion and it was bitterly cold."
Nowhere more so than an icy waterfall which Pierce had to wade through.
"That was pretty intense," he says with a laugh. "But it's all part of the craic. You have to be up for the game because you've read the script and you've signed on. So you do it. You just try not to whinge about it. There's always a good whisky waiting at the other end, or maybe more than one whisky" he smiles.
It's this professionalism and have-a-go attitude which made Pierce one of the most popular James Bonds to date. He donned the famous tuxedo for more than a decade and introduced a whole new generation to 007 with smash-hit films such as GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies.
So it came as some surprise when the Bond makers suddenly pulled the plug on Pierce - a decision he claims he knew nothing about, and one which left him just a little shaken and stirred.
"I wanted to do a fifth Bond," he says dolefully "But I got a call from my agents saying the producers had changed their minds, which is their prerogative, but it was very disappointing and I was in shock for about 24 hours. It's shocking to be told that you're too old, that you're past your sell-by date. But, you know, you have to let these things go," he adds with a wry smile.
Pierce, who was born in Navan, County Meath, and raised in London, says he is now philosophical about losing the Bond franchise and determined to make the most of a broader spectrum of film roles.
"Towards the end, I did want to break out of the mould," he says of the iconic superspy "I was always aware when I took the role that if I got it right I would be labelled as Bond.
"I should have challenged myself sooner," he admits. "But I was getting away with looking like Mr Sleek and Mr Suave and it paid the rent there for a while. But there has always been the nagging question of when I was going to find some dramas and good comedies and darker pieces. I had a glorious time working as Bond and now it's time to experiment and try things out. I have nothing to lose."
True to his word, the actor has since appeared in a number of roles which couldn't be more different from Bond, including playing a boozy hitman in The Matador and a loving father in Evelyn. He's currently shooting an edgy thriller called Butterfly On A Wheel and looks set to voice Thomas The Tank Engine in a big-screen version of the popular children's series.
Pierce has two young children, Dylan, 10, and Paris, six, by his second marriage to Keely Shaye Smith, as well as a grownup son, Sean, by his first wife, the actress Cassandra Harris, who died of cancer in 1991. He also adopted her two children Christopher and Charlotte. The devoted dad says he's actively been looking for a film role which his youngsters would appreciate.
"Having the younger ones has made me want to do work they'd like to watch and enjoy" he smiles. "I told them that I would find a movie to do for them to see."
Despite his thriving career, Pierce insists family comes above everything else.
"I'm a family man first and foremost," he says. "My family is my sanctuary It's what I work for. I've always loved being able to come home to them. It's always been a great stability that allows me to go off and do what I have to do."
SERAPHIM Falls is
released on Friday,