With a career that spans over three decades in TV and movies, Pierce Brosnan has done it all — from belting out songs in the “Mama Mia!” movie to playing James Bond four times.
Since handing in his licence to kill as 007 in 2002, following the release of “Die Another Day,” Brosnan has continued his career through a diverse collection of roles. His latest is “The Foreigner,” where he plays a former-IRA-member-turned-British-government-official, who finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with a persistent father (Jackie Chan) whose daughter died in a terrorist act. And it’s one of his best in recent years. The movie also teams Brosnan with director Martin Campbell, who made his first Bond movie, “GoldenEye.”
Business Insider spoke with Brosnan about working again with Campbell, and acting across from Jackie Chan but never actually meeting the man (we’ll let him explain) — but our James Bond questions led to a brief awkward moment.
Jason Guerrasio: At this point in your career do you not even entertain a project unless it has really interesting pieces to it, like Jackie Chan, or returning to work with someone like Martin Campbell?
Pierce Brosnan: Well, you always try to have interesting elements. You want to be able to get out of bed and kind of go to work and put in a 14-16 hour day, so yes, it better have some point of interest and some meaningful wordsmith or storytelling. And in this particular case it’s Martin Campbell. We have a friendship and a relationship of many years. And Jackie, I’m just a huge Jackie Chan fan. I grew up on Bruce Lee and then it was Jackie Chan. He’s just one of the great all-around entertainers.
Guerrasio: Did you know Jackie at all before going into this?
Brosnan: No. No, I never knew the man.
Guerrasio: Did you need a little get-to-know-you meet with him before getting into the intense scenes you two have in this movie? Meet for a drink or something?
Brosnan: No. Not at all. [Laughs] Just showed up for work and if you’re cast correctly, and the script has meaning, and you’re in the hands of a great director, then everyone knows their job and they know what to do. Jackie and I didn’t socialise. We were scheduled for dinners which didn’t happen for one reason or another. Mainly because of work. When I wasn’t working, Jackie was, and then if he wasn’t working, he was back in China working on another movie. The man is completely work obsessed.
Guerrasio: So did that heighten the scenes because you didn’t know him and he’s playing a character that’s so different from what he’s done in the past?
Brosnan: Jackie was 100% committed to the work at hand, and Martin is a taskmaster in the most glorious fashion. He just doesn’t leave the set until the scene is enlivened by the performers. What can I say, I wasn’t with Jackie Chan, I was with his character Quan, and that’s always wonderful. I fully believed who he was.
Guerrasio: As the production goes on is there anyone on the cast or crew brave enough to come to you or Martin and ask some “GoldenEye” questions or ask for some stories from set?
Brosnan: Oh yes. Yes. It’s a very communal and easy-going atmosphere. And Martin and I would occasionally reference the movie.
Guerrasio: That’s interesting. Something would come up on set that would bring back memories of “GoldenEye?” Would it go as far as how to tackle a certain scene? “Martin, remember what we did on ‘GoldenEye?'”
Brosnan: No. Nothing like that. Just a quiet understanding of history and what we have done. That’s in the past.
Guerrasio: As the years go by of being removed from Bond do you appreciate it more, or does it become more of a burden? You’ve said in the past you’re marked for life with that role. How do you see it now at this moment in your life?
Brosnan: It was a great job. It was a wonderful part to play.
Guerrasio: As the years go by do you have a different affection for it?
Brosnan: I’ve always had affection for it. I still have affection for it.
Guerrasio: Were you shocked Daniel Craig came back for the role?
Brosnan: No. It would have been rude not to.
Guerrasio: Because I would think that’s such a hard role to walk away from. Can you relate to what Craig has gone through? For you, was it hard to walk away from Bond?
Brosnan: What’s this got to do with “The Foreigner?”
Guerrasio: Oh, well, I’ve asked questions about the movie, this is a Q&A, I’m just touching on everything — if that’s ok? This is my last one on the topic, Mr. Bronson, was it hard to walk away from Bond?
Brosnan: My name is Brosnan, not Bronson.
Guerrasio: Did I say that? I’m sorry.
Guerrasio: Is it hard to walk away from that role?
Brosnan: Completely in keeping with the times.
Guerrasio: Another movie I wanted to bring up is “The Thomas Crown Affair,” which you also produced. Were you surprised you were never able to do a sequel?
Brosnan: Not in the least. I never wanted a sequel. The studio wanted a sequel.
Guerrasio: Oh really. Well, one sequel you are doing is “Mama Mia!,” are you prepping?
Brosnan: I’m on a plane tomorrow to Croatia.
Guerrasio: Excited to get back into the singing again?
Brosnan: Oh, absolutely. These are dear friends and it’s a kick in the pants to play in that movie. It’s criminal how much fun we have.
Guerrasio: And Andy Garcia is coming on this time around.
Brosnan: That I had no idea. Well, you know more than I do.
Guerrasio: I think that was announced recently. Do you know Andy at all?
Brosnan: I don’t. I’m sure it will be fun. I enjoy his work very much. I think I know who he’s playing, though. He’s going to be great.
“The Foreigner” opens in theatres October 13.
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