Pierce Brosnan hasn't stepped into James Bond's shoes for over a decade, but you wouldn't know it when you meet him. The Irish actor — who turns 60 this month, but doesn't seem to age — seems to be carrying on the suave legacy of Bond. Especially when it comes to his affinity and appreciation for women.
Hollywood.com caught up with Brosnan to discuss his latest film Love Is All You Need and when it came to the subject of his co-star, Danish actress Trine Dyrholm (whom Brosnan says has "the Meryl Streep touch" to her craft), he put it simply: "I've been blessed with all the leading ladies I've been with, they've all been rather gorgeous and beautiful and I love women." When it came to the subject of his Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier, he put it simply: "I've worked with some great directors from Barbra Streisand to Susanne Bier to when I did Remington Steele, there were some fine lady directors on that show. I love working with women. I love women. There's just an ease and a grace." Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.
But, it wasn't just his fondness for working with talented females like Dyrholm and Bier that drew him to a project like Love Is All You Need. The film a glossy but heartfelt romantic drama about a hairdresser named Ida (played by the vivacious Dyrholm who gets naked, literally and metaphorically), a cancer survivor whose husband has been cheating on her, and Philip (Brosnan, in what Bier describes as "one of his most touching performances"), a hard-working businessman and widower. Philip and Ida meet at their respective children's nuptials at a picturesque French villa and the two begin fall in love. "It goes right up there on the shelf with, dare I say, Mamma Mia," Brosnan says of the film, which taps into similar theme of finding yourself — and, of course, love —at any age.
Another one of the film's emotional cores — dealing with a devastating loss — is one that hits especially close for Brosnan. In 1991, Brosnan lost his first wife Cassandra Harris to ovarian cancer. They had one son together, Sean, as well as her children from a previous marriage Charlotte and Christopher. (Brosnan remarried in 2001 to his wife Keely Shaye Smith, with whom he has two sons with, Dylan and Paris). "All of that life pain that I went through — somewhat publicly, somewhat privately — is in the past but I can certainly identify and draw upon it," he says of playing a part like Love Is All You Need's Philip, a man who is still dealing with his pain.
"This character and this movie and this script found me at the right time in my life to be able to sit still and explore my own tragedies, my own pain, my own loss, what it's like to be a single parent," Brosnan continues. "In the hands of Susanne Bier, you surrender to that and allow yourself to go there. It just made sense. Her style of direction is very quiet and specific, strongly so at times. But there's great liberation in there because of the cinematic style that she uses. There were many emblems within the story: fatherhood, being a widower, being a single parent, a man of business, being alone, being middle-aged, dealing with time, time past, time present, time future."
And time, it seems, has since been kind to Brosnan. Not just in terms of his rugged good looks, but finding peace and comfort within himself and his career. "I painted myself into a corner sometimes I feel with the style of performance I'd given or the kind of actor I was trying to create when I came to America with Remington Steele," Brosnan admits. "As you get older there's a loosening of the ties to the ego and the posturing of who you are and how you behave. There's an ease within my own being now and there's a confidence, simple as that really, with performing... there's a great joy in being an older actor now. You have to adapt to your age and your years. It's nothing but humble gratitude of having come down the road so far."
Then again, it's hard not to be humbled with gratitude when you have labor of love projects like the big screen adaptation of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down (in which he stars alongside Aaron Paul, Toni Collette, and Imogen Poots, whom he refers to as "The Quartet...we were joined at the hip") and, of course, Love Is All You Need. Love, being the key word.
"It all melded together from day one," Brosnan recalls, adding, "[my cast and director] embraced me with such a warmth and generosity and I, in return, did the same and we just hit the ground running. The experience of filming on a day-to-day basis was nothing but joy. It's criminal how much fun we had. It was a magical summer." Who knew Bond was such a softie?
Love Is All You Need opens in limited release on May 3.
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Susanne Bier's films have been described as "harrowing" (After the Wedding), "heartbreaking" (Brothers), and "an urgent and compassionate thriller" (the Oscar-winning In a Better World) so it's a bit surprising to hear the award-winning Danish writer/director describe her new film Love Is All You Need as "unashamedly romantic."
Bier is the first to admit that the romantic dramedy is a departure from her previous line of work, which she described as "much more severe dramas." Love Is All You Need (whose Danish title is The Bald Hairdresser)— set in the stunning, picturesque Italian coast ("The location...is part of the story") — follows the luminous Ida (Trine Dyrholm, who is re-teamed with Bier for the first time since In A Better World), a cancer survivor whose husband has been having an affair, and Philip (Pierce Brosnan), a hardened businessman and widower, who met when attending the wedding of her daughter and his son. "It look a little bit of courage to be as unashamedly romantic [as this movie is]", she admitted.
But don't think that even in a softer, sweeter movie like Love Is All You Need that Bier and her collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen shy away from looking at the big picture. "You have to really sort of appreciate what is there, while its there," Bier said of the film's overriding theme. "I think that's kind of the most important part of the film, that things don't have to be forever, but if you can embrace and recognize when there is a real emotion or real affection or real compassion and be grateful for that."
Even more notably, in addition to being "unashamedly romantic" (which includes a swoon-worthy — or "cheeky" as Bier described it— soundtrack that includes romantic gold standards like "That's Amore") as Love Is All You Need (which has already played at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival) is, it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not: it revels in its romance. "If you look at a lot of the romantic comedies at the moment...there's an intrinsic cynicism in a lot of them...[Love Is All You Need] really does believe in love and hope."
It's all very evident, considering Bier is someone who still genuinely loves making movies. "If I go home from a day of shooting and I haven't at some point felt the magic, I'm really frustrated. Even if its like ten hours of things that are not [going well], if there's just a free second where you go, 'Wow, that was amazing,' then that's why I do it."
It also doesn't hurt when you're filming in such a gorgeous location ("[Italy] is part of telling the story") and with leads as easy to work with as Dyrholm ("She's so charming," Bier gushed) and Brosnan ("He's very generous and he's very humorous...I'm obviously biased, but I do think it's one of his most touching performances"). "This is my real talent, it's [finding]... a sense of chemistry. My favorite hobby is matchmaking," she said, adding, "It's a lot easier to do it in movies then in real life, because in real life people don't do what I tell them to do."
Bier's keen eye for chemistry allowed her to match up Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper again, for their upcoming Depression-era drama Serena. While Bier didn't give away anything about the reunion of the Silver Linings Playbook stars, when asked if she'd ever consider exploring something else out of her wheelhouse like the big screen adaptations of YA smash The Hunger Games, she opened up about her interest in that genre.
"I think I would be curious to do something like that," Bier told Hollywood.com. "I'm not like a careerist, I pick things that make me curious. The Hunger Games, particularly with Jennifer Lawrence… I really, really liked the first one. I think that would he hugely interesting, it's an interesting story. Depending on what it is, I would at all times go where triggers my curiosity. I think you have the excitement of climbing a big mountain every time."
But whether it's a glossier romantic comedy, a big budget action film, or a deeply personal drama, Bier — who is one of few female directors able to make their mark on the industry — put it simply, "I think I'm just trying to make the best movie I can. I don't think as a director you [should] put yourself in rules of society, you have to work according to where your artistic drive takes you. I've always been slightly hesitant about generalizing movies made by men and women being different in their nature, I think movies by each director are different. Having said that, I think that it's kind of disgraceful that there aren't more female directors."
Love Is All You Need opens in limited release on May 3.
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
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