For Bond fans the world over, Pierce Brosnan was the archetypal secret agent. Smooth, sophisticated and seductive, he encapsulated the very essence of 007. It's something of a surprise then to hear him talk about the trials of becoming "a horse's ass".
The horse's backside he refers to is his latest incarnation, the half-man, half-horse god, Chiron the Centaur, he depicts in the forthcoming family action-adventure Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief.
"I play a teacher, Professor Brunner, who's a paraplegic philosopher of the gods and then he goes into this 'other' world where he becomes this powerful horse's ass," says Pierce.
Based on Rick Riordan's best-seller, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and directed by Home Alone's Christopher Columbus, the movie introduces Greek mythology to a modern-day setting.
At the centre of the story is the trouble-prone Percy Jackson, who's forced to embark on an adventure of epic proportions when he discovers his real father is Poseidon, god of the sea. A demigod, (that's half-human, half-god), Percy is sent to Camp Half Blood, where he's trained by Chiron to harness his newly discovered powers in order to prevent a devastating war among the gods, secure the fate of the world and save the life of his mother, whom Percy must rescue from the depths of Hell itself, no less.
"I think it's great storytelling in the hands of a very fine storyteller, Chris Columbus," says Pierce in his languid voice. "Christopher has done this for many years and his enthusiasm and passion and creativity I think is as potent now as it was back when he was working on Mrs Doubtfire," he adds, referring to the 1993 film in which Pierce starred alongside a cross-dressing Robin Williams. "And I think Rick Riordan's done a magnificent job of blending the here and now with the world of Greek mythology. For a young audience, it lends itself to a wonderful exploration, to get them delving into and looking at the Iliad and Homer and see the genesis of storytelling in society."
Making fun of himself for his "long-winded answer", Pierce continues to attribute what he hopes will be a successful franchise, not only to "good film-making" but to a wonderful cast, led by 18-year-old Logan Lerman in the title role.Ridiculed
Like many of Columbus's films, the parent-child relationship is at the heart of the story and that's something that resonates with 56-year-old Pierce, a father to five.
Navan-born Pierce only has the slightest hint of a Meath accent but his experiences under the tuition of the religious community The Christian Brothers had a lasting effect.
"Yeah, they weren't the greatest educators. I learnt about nothing at school, I learnt how to fight," he says with a chuckle. His singing abilities in Mamma Mia! may have been ridiculed but he says it was nothing compared to the humiliation he faced in having to don a pair of tights for his role in Percy Jackson. Fluorescent blue tights with orange spots at that."Christopher, he was a clever bugger," says Pierce recalling being offered the role. "He sent me this script with a beautiful artist's impression of me as Chiron, looking great and fantastic and brilliantly buffed and I thought: 'This is splendid!"'
"So, of course I said 'yes' and then we came to the moment of glory [filming the scenes] and I've got good leather straps here and there [pointing to his chest] and buckles and knives and a sword, but then I had to get into tights, so they could put the horse's ass on me," he says, referring to the blue tights that allow the special effects team to later add CGI effects.
"You know it's not easy to be all butch up here and look down and you've got tights on," he says. Then he puffs his chest and jokingly adds: "It takes a real man to wear tights!"
Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief is released on Friday