Pierce Brosnan may have made his mark while driving some pretty hot wheels, but for his latest adventure, the actor trades in his Aston Martin for… a horse. Yep. The grimy, bloody, deeply metaphorical Western, Seraphim Falls, features the erstwhile 007 far from his usual element. He’s hairy and stained, while Liam Neeson, playing a fellow former soldier with an axe to grind, chases him across the wintry wild west in the years following the Civil War.
We caught up with the tanned and well-coiffed star late last week, at the end of a long morning of publicity in Beverly Hills, where he ruminated about Westerns, life after Bond, and that Craig chap.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s it been going today?
PIERCE BROSNAN: Oh, this is just a walk in the park. This is quite pastoral really, [after doing press for] the Bond movies, where they take their pound of flesh in Tokyo and South Africa and you name it, as a global ambassador for the franchise. Ah — sic transit gloria mundi. [Smiles]
Why did you sign on for this movie?
I always wanted to do a Western. It’s a simple story surrounded by complex issues on the meaning of war and the meaninglessness of war. And [it comes] at a time in this country’s life, when the confusion and the anger and the lies and the subterfuge of government have led us down a very dark alley, where we should have been more cautious and had more compassion and respect for other nations.
Would you agree that Westerns are like metaphorical Greek dramas?
Yeah — I think war is always going to be part of mankind. I should like to think that we’ll find peace on this Earth at some point and come to a collective consciousness of compassion for each other, where we say, ”Enough! Let us live as one!” [Frowns] But I think not. I think that genetically we’re programmed to battle each other. [Sighs.]
Your role in this film, as well as in your last one, The Matador, are decidedly unglamorous. Is it fair for us to look at them and think: Here’s Brosnan saying, ”To hell with the whole matinee-idol thing”?
No. I want to do both, I want to be able to go back to that, I want to be able to have as many choices as possible. You know, you find yourself [sighs] with a kind of charm and looks and you play that to the hilt, and then you find yourself being typecast. People expect a certain thing. It’s the old adage of, if they want brown shoes, give them brown shoes. But brown shoes fade and get old and worn. You’ve got to find something else to do, you’ve got to find another way of moving your career in a direction, to make it interesting. [Still], you’re grateful for whatever work you’ve got and the career you have, thanks to good timing or looks or meeting the right people — and hopefully a bit of talent in your back pocket.
You’ve been working a lot in independent films lately. Have you been trying to slow down after making some of the biggest movies to date?
I love the intimacy and the passion and the danger that go into independent filmmaking. Because it comes out of a creative necessity. It comes from people who really want to make a movie, and want to make a difference, and want to grab an audience by the gullet and show them something different.
Okay, but is there something more to it than that?
It’s just staying at the table. Staying in the game. [Chuckles.] Finding work. I’m a working actor. What’s the next job and who’s going to give it to me? People say, ”Oh, you must have a million scripts coming in.” And I say, ”No, I don’t. I have to fight for everything.”
When you and I spoke a year and a half ago, Bond was a little closer and maybe a little rawer. Your unceremonious departure from the part still stung. How are you feeling about that experience these days? Are you feeling more okay about it now?
I’ve always felt okay about it. I feel a great sense of pride of having been part of such an amazing franchise, and one that, to the glory of Daniel Craig, will go on now. As much as a shock it was to be dropped from it…. for whatever reason.
Did you see the new movie?
I haven’t seen it; I’ve been living in Hawaii. I’m looking forward to it. But I’ve followed it very closely.
How has it been, following it that closely?
Oh, you know, it’s been painful at times. Because I wish that I had done it. I went to [the producers] way back with Quentin Tarantino, who wanted to make it — and I may have even given it to them on a platter [because] Quentin wanted to make Casino Royale. So it comes with a certain heartache. But with that comes the determination to go on and change and find your own course.
You know Daniel Craig, right?
We know each other, yeah. He came to me when he was offered it, and I said, ”Go for it, man.”
Do you find it liberating to have that part of your life behind you?
Well, with that phone call [in which I was told I wasn’t rehired] came the surprise and the shock of the [producers’] decision. But then in the next breath came the great relief that I was free. And there’s nothing more exhilarating than being free as an actor, to go and make any choice you want.
Seraphim Falls opens in select cities on Friday.