BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Almost 20 years after he first stepped into the iconic role of 007 with Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan’s back in espionage mode.Follow @JamShowbiz
In The November Man, based on a series of gritty novels by Bill Granger, Brosnan plays a former CIA agent who is reluctantly drawn into a final mission, but beyond the spy backdrop, Peter Devereaux and James Bond share little in common.
You won’t find the usual coterie of Bond babes, let alone any Q’s or M’s in this spy thriller, which was a big part of the appeal.
“This November Man is a rougher hewn-type man and there’s a complexity to him that I like,” says the ever-dapper Brosnan, wearing his 61 years like his crisp, open-necked sky-blue shirt—as in, extremely well. “It was a character that I could get my teeth into.”
And unlike the Bond movies, he got first crack at the role rather than having to follow in the footsteps of others.
“When I played Bond, it was like, where do I begin, how do I get a hold of this monkey?” reflects Brosnan. “You’re caught between the Roger Moore and the Sean Connery. It had been dormant for six years and I felt like I was caught in some time capsule. I had seen other men play the role and do good work, but you needed that tongue-in-cheek mixed with the ballsy grittiness and believability.”
Brosnan would go on to play the famed MI6 operative in three more Bond movies, ending with 2002’s not-so-enthusiastically received Die Another Day.
“Just as I was getting the hang of it, the door closed!” sighs Brosnan, in reference to the franchise reboot that saw the passing of the torch to Daniel Craig. “I’ve got nothing but gratitude for my days as the character and without Bond, there wouldn’t be a November Man.”
Produced by Brosnan’s own Irish DreamTime on a tight budget that would unlikely have covered Q’s research and development costs, The November Man was shot on location in Serbia with a supporting cast including Russian beauty Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion) and Australian newcomer Luke Bracey, as well as a plot line that, as timing had it, could have been ripped from today’s headlines.
What script didn’t have, on the other hand, were any Bond-style double entendres.
“Whew,” responds Brosnan, rolling his eyes with relief. “They were always hard to do. Roger did them best. There were days when it was just painful—you spend two weeks doing an action sequence and then you come into a big close-up having to give the line, ‘ba-boom boomp!’ And then you go, ‘Oh dear, it was all going so well!’ ”
But the November Man shoot would hold other challenges.
In the middle of filming on location in Belgrade last summer, his adopted daughter Charlotte succumbed, at age 42, to ovarian cancer, the same disease that claimed her mother, Brosnan’s first wife Cassandra, in 1991.
“He had this very, very tough situation to deal with right in the middle of shooting,” says November Man director Roger Donaldson, who previously teamed with Brosnan on Dante’s Peak. “But he did the movie with such energy and determination. He had to keep going and somehow the work got even better.”
Aside from The November Man, Brosnan has been on a real tear, work-wise, completing, by his own count, seven movies in two years.
That doesn’t include several he’s got in development, among them a thriller called IT, as well as a “small, violent piece set in Belfast,” to be directed by his son Sean.
Despite what you might have recently heard, nowhere on Brosnan’s to-do list is Expendables 4.
“I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, making a picture there recently.” explains Brosnan of the upcoming political thriller, Survivor, co-starring Emma Thompson. “And I was sitting at a dinner table with [Expendables producer] Avi Lerner one night and he said, ‘I’d love you to be in the next one.’ And I said, ‘Sure, I mean, send me the script.’ And that was it. It was in The Hollywood Reporter the next day that I was going to be in The Expendables 4. No.”
Sorry Sly. Maybe Timothy Dalton’s available….