After twelve years Pierce Brosnan has gone back into the spy business, but his character, Peter Devereaux, in the new, intense thriller The November Man is far from the suave James Bond, who he portrayed in four movies, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
Brosnan first came to prominence in America with his TV series Remington Steele and went on to do such successful films as The Tailor of Panama, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Mrs Doubtfire and Mamma Mia!
In 1996, along with is co-partner Beau St. Clair, he formed the production company Irish DreamTime, which has produced 10 movies including The Thomas Crown Affair, The Matador and The November Man.
In the film, Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan), code name ‘The November Man,’ a highly trained ex-CIA agent, is lured out of retirement to protect a valuable witness, Alice Fournier (Olga Kurylenko), who could expose the truth behind an old conspiracy. He soon discovers he is the target of his former friend and CIA protégé, David Mason (Luke Bracey). The film opens on Wednesday, August 27th for the Labor Day weekend.
I spoke with Pierce Brosnan at the press day for the movie about his life and career.
Were you attracted to the fact that The November Man would take you back into the spy genre?
After my four outings as James Bond there seemed to be unfinished business. The way Bond finished in my life, and the demise of Bond going off stage-left into the night, seemed like there was a certain void there.
So Beau came to me with the idea. We’ve made numerous films, Thomas Crown and The Matador, so we had a good friendship and understanding of each other lives.
Bond was so big and mighty in my career and it is the gift that just keeps giving. I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for James Bond, so there was a desire and need to make The November Man.
I love the title, it has a sensuality and a mystique to it. The writings of Bill Granger (who wrote the novels) had a complexity of character and a punch and grit to it which gave me the opportunity to really take the gloves off and be hard-as-nails and be ambivalent in my moral values as a character.
Were you worried doing another spy film that many of your fans are going to think you’ll be playing a James Bond-type, when this character is totally unlike him?
Good heavens no, that never entered into the equation.
I was contracted for four movies, I saved the world four times and there was supposed to be a fifth but it was never meant to be, so I think that was grist for the mill, to go out there and find a piece like The November Man to do it my way, cue song!
And Beau wanted this for me, she wanted me to go back into this game and pick up the gun. I was watching it the other night at the Mann’s Chinese Theatre, and I thought I should have picked up the gun sooner.
But then you wouldn’t have done all the diverse roles you’ve been doing in the last few years. You’ve had a great post-Bond career with comedy, and even a musical with Mamma Mia!
Thank you. I knew there was work to be done, I was trained as an actor to play many roles. I was led to believe that I had some versatility, some talent, some sense of performance.
Going into James Bond I knew that if I got it right, and there’s only one way to do it and that’s get it right, because I’d seen men go before me in the role and I had great admiration for them all, so I knew that I was going to have maybe a hard row to hoe coming out the other end, of trying to define myself as an actor, as an artist, as a performer.
What was it like shooting The November Man in Serbia?
It [was] a joy. I knew Belgrade, I was there before the war, and after the war I did a miniseries, Around the World in 80 Days. I shot two movies there, so I knew the landscape, the people and the climate, and the great trauma that had befallen the Balkans.
The book was set in Berlin, but we didn’t have the money to go to Berlin. This film was made for a really conservative amount of money, so to make it we [needed] to get as big a bang for your buck as you see on the screen.
We were trying to find a landscape that hadn’t been used, and Roger (Donaldson, the movie’s director), fell in love with it. The Serbian actors and crew just embraced us, and likewise.
It was hard work, down and dirty, but exhilarating. Belgrade and Montenegro [are] beautiful. It’s wonderful to go to far flung places to make movies, it gives you so much insightfulness into the character.
There are thirteen ‘November Man‘ books, are you hoping to do a sequel? Would you like to play the character again?
That’s what we hope. That was Beau’s and my wishes and desires, so we’ll see. Also, to pass the mantle on, to find someone as wonderful, fresh and exhilarating, and diamond- in-the-rough as Luke Bracey is.