Pierce Brosnan on Roman Polanski, Tony Blair, and “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”
Pierce Brosnan is far from the first actor that comes to mind when one thinks about a horse’s behind. The ever-charming, Golden Globe nominated actor plays Chiron the Centaur (who has a double life as a wheelchair-bound grade school teacher) in the coming movie “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief,” a mythological adventure based on the best-selling book series.
In a recent interview in New York City, Brosnan, 56, came across as dapper (he was wearing a really nice suit), erudite (he made a reference to the Lumière brothers while discussing 3-D films) and refreshingly capable of verbal slip-ups — at one point he mistakenly referred to “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe as Daniel Craig, who was Brosnan’s replacement in the James Bond franchise.
Besides, “Percy Jackson,” which opens tomorrow, Brosnan is set to appear in the coming Roman Polanski film “The Ghost Writer,” in which he plays a former British Prime Minister, and the drama “Remember Me,’”co-starring the “Twilight” franchise’s Robert Pattinson. Brosnan says he just got in a new draft of the script for a possible sequel to his 1999 film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and he hopes to launch the project when “we get the character right.” Below, Speakeasy’s chat with Brosnan.
The Wall Street Journal: So your agent come to you and says “I’ve got a great role for you—it involves sticking a horse’s behind on yours.” What do you say?
Pierce Brosnan: He didn’t say that. He just said over lunch one day with the family, by the way, [director] Chris Columbus is doing a movie and it’s “Percy Jackson” and he’s interested. I said great, great and I told my sons [Dylan, 13, and Paris, 8] at dinner that night and they said, “Dad, you bought us the books.” And I said, “I thought I bought you the books.” They said “Dad you gotta do this, it’s a great role.”
So your kids have read the “Percy Jackson” books. They’ve sold millions of copies. What kind of hold do they have on young readers?
It starts with [Percy] the hero of these books, who suffers from dyslexia, a broken home, it makes it very human and tangible. And then with the backdrop of Greek mythology, it’s a wonderful way for any young man or women to get into literature.
What did you think when you saw the finished special effects and saw yourself on screen as a half-human, half-horse Centaur?
I howled with laughter. Then I began to pick it apart — did I acquit myself well as a horse? There’s a physicality to it. You approach it like a dance almost, if you want to know the boring details.
I do actually.
I went to my Greek mythology and brushed up on the characters and found out that Chiron of the Centaurs was the wisest, he was a teacher, and was the kindest and most human of his breed. I ride horses, I love horses, I’ve owned horses.
So how do you play a half-human one?
You cannot act the back end. But you have to be aware that you can’t cross your legs. Horses have a way of moving, of always moving their feet, especially ones that are ready to run. I had seen many years before, the first production of [Peter] Shaffer’s “Equus” — and the actors in that play stayed with me forever…The actors who portrayed the horses were just magnificent. You have these muscular four legs behind you. So your chest goes out, your head goes up, and you try and take center stage as much as possible.
You’re also in another film coming out opposite Robert Pattinson. Did your younger daughters ask you for an introduction?
There was many a friend and relative and young lady who would come and visit me. The list was long and the girls were many on the streets of New York City and his motor home was the epicenter of beautiful girls. My motor home down the avenue was quiet…when I started doing Bond there was a wonderful publicist that told me: “grace under pressure.” I said the same thing to Robert: “grace under pressure.” Celebrate it and enjoy it.
You also have the film “The Ghost Whisperer”…
“The Ghost Writer.”
Sorry, the “The Ghost Whisperer” is a whole other thing. You have “The Ghost Writer” with Roman Polanski. How did you first get involved with this film?
I went over to meet him for lunch. We got it out of the way straight off the bat, that this wasn’t Tony Blair. That I wasn’t going to play Tony Blair. But of course it is Tony Blair — you cannot help but make the leap.
Polanski is under house arrest in Switzerland. [The director is facing possible extradition to the U.S. for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.] How do you feel about what’s going on?
I cannot help but want closure for this episode of this man’s life. They will bring him back to America and justice will follow its course. And I hope that they could put an end to all the suffering for all the families involved and move on.
Back to the “Percy Jackson” film, will there be a sequel?
i hope so. I signed up for three. The books are there ready to be made. We shall see very quickly what the response of the public is…Chris [Columbus] is chomping at the bit to do it and so am I. He’d like to do it in 3-D, and I think that would be a very fertile way to go.
More actors are taking on roles in which CGI plays a part in their performance, whether it’s in “Avatar” or “The Lord of the Rings” or you in this film. Are you all going to be replaced by software?
There is a concern, yes, that we could be made redundant. It is so easy to scan people’s faces and it is happening at an alarming rate now; the acceleration of technology in show business and making movies is ferocious. But I think mankind will want to see mankind on the stage and see the human form and shape move and appear. I don’t think that’s going to go away.