Watch Pierce Brosnan Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters | Iconic Characters

Hi, I’m Pierce Brosnan.

I’d like to talk about some

of the roles that I’ve played in my life.

Iconic Characters

[upbeat music]

James Bond

[upbeat music]

[Natalya] Thank you, Mr,

The name’s Bond, James Bond.

For me, it was trying to walk a line

between Roger and Sean Connery,

and not being shy of taking from their work.

I was so enamored by Sean Connery,

who I’d seen as a boy of 11 years of age in Gold Finger.

And I watched him transcended the heady heights

of being Bond and creating such an iconic character.

Oh no, you don’t. Oh! Oh!

This is no time to be rescued.

[romantic music]

Then came Roger and I watched,

Roger portrayed the character.

So I took from both men, really.

I allowed myself the grace to be able

to try and get the sense of humor

that both men brought to the part.

Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?

Standard operating procedure.

Oh, you get chipped.

You get nicked, you pull muscles, you get stitched up.

So, I mean, I have the greatest admiration

for Daniel Craig and what he did,

the physicality that he brought

to the performance was monumental.

You kind of have your own private work

that you deal with as an actor

in trying to portray this man, it’s pretty overwhelming.

And then providing your own truthfulness.

Can you make a truthful moment out of this scene?

[upbeat music]

Mrs. Doubtfire

I remember getting the job.

I remember being absolutely over the moon by getting the job

because I had to pay the mortgage that month.

If I remember, I was a single father

and I get a job with Robin Williams.

This must be the famous Mrs. Doubtfire.

It’s a pleasure to meet you. Oh!

Yes. Well, Miranda’s been raving about you.

Odd. She’s never mentioned you.

No? Oh. No.

It’s one of the great, great clowns,

greatest comedian, actor, humanitarian.

He led with his heart and his soul,

and every fiber of his being.

I was so thrilled to be working with him, Sally Field.

I remember going up to San Francisco the first day.

I went into the makeup trailer and Robin was there,

and he had a Hawaiian shirt on,

and big, hairy arms and cargo pants, and hairy legs.

But he had the head of Mrs. Doubtfire. [chuckles]

Ooh! Hello, Pierce.

Ooh, you’re very handsome.

Ooh, give us a kiss! Ooh!

Hey there, buddy.

Nice to see you. Glad you came up.

Hello, Robin.

How are you, man?

Oh, I’m good, man.

I’ve been here for hours.

That’s a pretty impressive bubble you got her.

Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Phil gives a gift like that.

He wants more than a piece of her heart, eh?

Bit of a going down payment, huh?

Excuse me?

Oh, you know, dear. Sink the sub?

Hide the weasel? Park the porpoise?

bit of the old Humpty Dumpty?

I would go to work

and I went to work every day on that movie.

And I was always working with, you know, Mrs. Doubtfire.

It wasn’t until the end of the movie that I met Robin.

Chris Columbus is the director.

He created such a warm environment

for us all to be free in and create in.

And Robin of course, had full realm

of creativity and spontaneity, and humanity,

and passion for all of us as actors.

His commitment to that role,

it was phenomenal because he would go

to work and be there from four o’clock in the morning.

Oh, isn’t he a stunning piece of work?

Look, Nattie, that’s called liposuction, hmm.

[people chattering]

[spring board clangs]

[water splashes] [Miranda laughs]

[Natalie] Wow!

I hope he had protection.

You know, he hit the water with that speed.

[Miranda] God knows what happens. Oh!

It was a sunny morning

and my character Stu has to walk out

on the diving board and do a swallow dive.

I don’t dive.

I don’t do swallow dives. I don’t like heights.

Top board, 300 extras.

Action. I’d walk out to the end of the board

and I’d go like this and they’d say, Cut!

And then I had to tiptoe back, such humiliation,

but it gave everyone a laugh.

So that was that morning

and then the next scene was Drive by Fruiting.

You!

[lime thuds]

Oh, sir! I saw it.

Some angry member of the kitchen staff.

Did you not tip them?

Oh, the terrorist, they ran that way.

It was a run by fruiting.

I’ll get them, Sir. Don’t worry.

Drive by Fruiting, it wasn’t in the script.

I get the beers. I’m walking back.

I’m thinking this is gonna take forever,

forever to hit me on the head.

First one missed, second one is history.

[upbeat music]

Dante’s Peak

[crowd screaming]

[Rachel] Oh God. Oh my God.

[Harry] Oh no! [volcano rumbles]

My mum calls me up and says, ‘Dante’s Peak’ is on again.

She lets me know back in from London

all the movies that they play.

For me as a boy, growing up in England,

Sunday lunch, then you’ll watch a movie.

So for her to be telling me that I’m on TV,

just as a certain sense of accomplishment.

And that’s what you live for,

the appreciation of the work and that you bring joy

to people’s lives, and you turn them on.

Dante’s Peak, Roger Donaldson, good friend,

great director, offered me the role. [clears throat]

I just loved the title.

Sometimes the title will speak

to you in [fingers snap] an instant.

[volcano explodes]

[kids scream]

Get down, kids! Get down!

[pyroclastic material whooshes]

It had the potential to be a crowd pleaser, family film.

There was no deep characterization of the man.

I knew that I had a following

and I had an audience now as James Bond.

And I try to keep it as simple as possible

within the context of the script and the emotion

of the script, and the relationships of the characters.

You know, I looked at film, I looked at lots of footage

of these men who go into these powerfully

dangerous situations with Mother Earth,

and I just had a great time doing it.

Fishing. I’d go fishing.

We were in Coeur d’Alene.

You know, some of these shots would take a long time

to set up.

So I’d get to work at six, seven in the morning

and sometimes, I wouldn’t see the camera till about 10,

11 or 12, but we’d be in beautiful circumstances

with the river, so I’d go fly fishing.

I mean, that’s where my singing career started. [laughs]

‘Cause I’d sing Row, Row, Row The Boat.

♪ Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ♪

♪ Life is but a dream ♪

♪ Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ♪

♪ Life is but a dream ♪

♪ Row, row, row your boat ♪

♪ Gently down the stream ♪

♪ Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ♪

♪ Life is but a dream ♪

Then came Mamma Mia! Not much progression there. [laughs]

[upbeat music]

Mamma Mia!

We’re here for the wedding. I’m Bill Anderson.

[Sophie] Huh?

I’m Bright. Harry Bright.

Sam Carmichael.

You are expecting us.

[laughs] Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! is the gift that keeps giving.

It’s just one of those joyful memories of life.

My father had just passed away, my stepfather.

And he was a Scotsman, Carmichael, Bill Carmichael.

And I said, Dad has to have the piper.

We have to get bagpipes.

And as we’re having this conversation

and having a little whiskey, just the undertaker,

my mother and I, the phone rings and it’s CAA, my agents.

They said, You got a job.

I said, Really? Oh, Meryl Streep.

I went, You’re kidding.

And they said, Look, you have to,

you’re gonna be in London.

We’d like you to go see the production.

We were watching the production and my daughter,

and she said, Daddy, who are you playing?

I said, I don’t know. I forgot to ask.

I’m one of the dads.

I, you know, the gay dad came on.

I could play him.

The Butch dad came on. I could play him.

And then, Sam Carmichael came on,

the handsome dad and I could play him, too.

And then in the scene, he says,

You still got my bagpipes? and his name was Carmichael.

So, there you go.

Whatever that story means, there was some beauty to it.

♪ When you’re gone ♪

♪ How can I even try to go on ♪

It was terrifying having to do these songs.

And you know, SOS is such a warhorse of a song.

I think what gave me the greatest comfort on the day

of recording these songs up at Air Studios

was to see Stellan and Colin looking

like rabbits caught in the headlights.

They were terrified. We were all terrified having to sing.

We go into the studio, it’s 10 o’clock in the morning.

It’s Air Studios and there’s Benny

and Bjorn sitting at the piano.

[hands clap] All right, boys, let’s go! [tongue clicks]

Straight into the songs. [inhales]

Once we got that out of the way,

the rest was just becoming a company.

Phyllida Lloyd, who directed Mamma Mia!

comes from the theater, comes from opera,

so she created a company.

We went down to Pinewood Studios

for about four, five weeks and we rehearsed,

and in doing so, you know,

you’re in a big studio space

and you have to get out and dance,

and remember the moves and you make an ass of yourself.

And there was Meryl with us all doing it,

and trying to remember the dialogue or the steps.

So that gave us a great confidence.

So when it became time to film it, everyone was very secure.

[upbeat music]

Evelyn

Well, the movie Evelyn I made with my producing partner,

my late producing partner, Beau Marie St. Clair

and I, we created a company called Irish DreamTime.

And in the space of 10 years, we made 10 movies.

Evelyn is one of those films.

Paul Pender wrote the script based

on a true event of Desmond Doyle.

The wife leaves him one Christmas morning

and he’s left with children.

And as was the want in those days,

the church and the state had full manipulation

and control over the dominion of society.

And they took the children away from him

’cause he was a single parent.

He fought to get his children back.

The SPCC? The Society for the Prevention

of Cruelty to Children?

Aye, that’s correct.

Does that bitch proddle about about that I’ve been cruel

to my kids?!

Oh no, no. Not at all Mr. Doyle. No, no.

We only have the children’s welfare at heart

and to lose a mother at such a young age

can have a deeply traumatizing effect.

How is that any business of yours?!

So much is the work as an actor

and the preparation of the work as an actor is so interior,

it’s you sitting in your living room, in your bathroom,

walking the streets, living.

And if the story connects to your heart

and the writing sustains your imagination.

That interior mechanism of imagination

and trying to create the look

can sometimes have some alchemy to it.

For me, it was the singing, singing these pub songs.

I didn’t have to be a great singer,

but he is a singer with passion.

♪ On the Banks of the Roses ♪

♪ me love and I sat down ♪

♪ And I took out me fiddle ♪

♪ for to play me love a tune ♪

♪ In the middle of the tune-o ♪

It was just a joyful film to make, to be back in Ireland,

to be in Dublin, to be in the cast that we had,

Alan Bates, Steven Rea, Aiden Quinn, Julianna Margulies.

The whole dynamic of the story was quite powerful

for its time that this man should win against the church

and the state to bring back his children

from the claws, the more of church and state.

That dynamic was there in its own kind of reality

and it’s a film that I cherish.

It’s a film that I have a deep kind

of fondness for and it has a beauty to it.

It is one that kind of will live on the shelf as a story

for one hopes, many generations.

[upbeat music]

Thomas Crown

So what do you think, Crown?

You don’t have any regrets about

the way you played this, do you?

Regret is usually a waste of time

[speaker laughs]

as is gloating.

You figured out what you’re gonna say

to your board when they learned

that you paid me 30 million more than others were offering?

Good morning, gentlemen.

I love Steve McQueen, love his work as an actor.

You know, you steal from the best.

You observe how they do it,

how to be relaxed on camera, how to be present on camera.

And you know, he was such a rough and rugged character,

but the Crown Affair, he was in suits

for the first time, really.

And he was playing this elegant role

and he did it brilliantly.

And what really turned me on

was the Windmills of Your Mind, the song.

And I love the romance of it.

So the movies that I made

with Irish DreamTime and Beau Marie St. Clair,

definitely each and everyone,

a haiku of friendship and beauty,

and the joy of being able to make movies,

and to get away with it, and each one is dear.

They don’t have to be box office success

or just the accomplishment of making a movie.

We went to the studio and they said, Yes, run with it.

I like to paint.

I didn’t wanna steal money.

I didn’t wanna steal diamonds.

I wanted to steal a painting and I wanted to hit the mat.

[suitcase locks click]

[security alarm blaring]

[footsteps shuffling]

[people chattering]

I mean, once we set sail with this

and we had a great script, then it was the director,

John McTiernan, John and I had,

I had made his first film out of the AFI,

film called Nomads, Lesley-Anne Down and myself,

which is a little thriller.

John went off to be a mega director

and I carried on being an actor. [laughs]

[upbeat salsa music]

[upbeat salsa music continues]

John McTiernan sent us down

to a dance studio in Times Square.

We went down, I don’t know, twice a week.

We learned every different dance you could possibly learn

and really learnt them.

And then the day we came to shoot that scene,

she was really nervous. I was nervous.

I was like, Oh my God, here we go.

She said, Let’s just go through the moves.

Let’s go through the moves.

And we found ourself in some cupboard

or some cubbyhole going [Pierce humming]

And she said, Have you seen the dress I have to wear?

She said, It fits into this match book.

I said, Don’t worry. You’re gonna be great.

Don’t worry, it’s gonna be fine.

And then we went for the take and we went out there

and she was in this dress, this kind of gossamer,

featherweight, beautiful dress,

and like 300 extras, cameras coming in.

And John said, Just make it up.

Okay.

The lights came on and that’s what you see in the movie.

We just played.

[upbeat music]

Mr. Roman Polanski said,

No, no, it’s not about Tony Blair,

but all roads led to Tony Blair. [chuckles]

So I watched Tony Blair.

I looked at his interviews and his performances

as the Prime Minister.

And it was so well-written.

The book had a great muscularity to it, of storytelling.

Roman Polanski, one of the great directors of cinema,

Mike would never believe such crap.

He was too clever, too loyal.

Mike betrayed you to Rycart.

How do you know that?

He told me.

Rycart?

He’s lying.

This phone number on the back of the photograph.

It’s Rycart’s. The handwriting, that’s McAra’s

Mike.

I based it on Tony Blair, he was an actor.

He was a great actor, a great performer.

He had great speech writers, my particular character

in the movie that is, but he was fractured,

weak, insecure,

fraud,

really had done not very good things by his standards,

and practice of being a Prime Minister.

[upbeat music]

Black Adam

It’s a massive character.

It’s never been portrayed on film before.

It’s 40 years old in the making.

Jaume, the director, allowed us to have those quiet moments.

Aldis Hodge who plays Hawkman and I are friends

through many incarnations of life.

So it’s about friendship.

It’s about love and respect

for another man in his situation and you have the power.

Dr. Fate has the helmet of Nabu,

which is a curse and a blessing

because he is shackled to the power of the helmet.

It’s an addiction. It’s a curse.

It all sounds a lot of frufru

when you talk about it like that,

but it’s stuff that you have to lend your heart to.

If you go into the mythology of it,

whether it be Dr. Fate or James Bond, you know,

I’m not very good at articulating

the inner dialogue that one has,

otherwise people think you’re crazy.

But if it’s really well-written,

you follow the score, you bring your own life to it.

You bring you, your own heart,

your own feelings, your own emotions.

Yeah. Just big characters, big heroic characters.

But you know, if you have the courage

to keep it as simple as you possibly can

and listen, and play it for all it’s worth,

then you have a good director who can guide you

and you can come up with something

that’s really meaningful and powerful.