EVELYN - Q&A with Pierce Brosnan
Movie Interview by Kris Griffiths
Pierce Brosnan takes time out on St. Patrick's Day to discuss his latest film, Ireland and the Irish.
It's clear that this film's subject touched you very emotionally. What factors grabbed you from the script?
Well I thought Paul Pender had written a wonderful story about Evelyn's life. One of the finer elements about it was the humour, which wasn't handled with a sledgehammer as it sometimes is with Ireland, especially from that period. I loved the way it starts as a family drama and ends up as a courtroom drama. This main character, Desmond Doyle, had the courage to stand up in those rather dark days of the 50s against the church and the state and emerge victorious. I thought that was heroic. It was a story we had on our desk for six years which we always talked about making into a film. When Paul had first written it, it was a hundred and fifty-four pages and the standard American length is usually about one hundred and twelve, so we asked him to cut it but when we got it back all he'd done was shrink the type (laughs) and there were people that actually read that script and said it was much better! When he cut it properly, I read the part of Desmond at a read-through in Santa Monica with other Irish actors and afterwards I said, right it sounds like I can do this so let's get ourselves a director. The idea of Bruce Beresford came up - I'd worked with him twelve years ago - so after he came on board we suddenly had a great director, a great text and a magnificent cast, and the movie was made.
What comments did the real Evelyn have to say about your performance as her father?
Evelyn's been very complementary to my work portraying her father and she was the only source for me to find out what this man was really like. There was also my own identification of being a father and having some knowledge of what it's like to come from a broken home in Ireland, so you invest as much of yourself in the role as possible. I couldn't achieve 'the whole man' but I had enough information to work on to give it my best shot.
I don't think we've seen you singing in a film before. Was it an enjoyable experience or did it fill you with trepidation?
I had a great time singing and it didn't worry me too much. It wasn't so much the singing that concerned me as much as getting the Dublin accent down, which can be a tricky one. Our music man told me I had a mildly attractive singing voice and gave me great confidence in getting up there and singing those songs.
Was singing and music an important part of your childhood?
Singing definitely was. My childhood has been portrayed as rather bleak but there were moments of great happiness and joy in there. The Irish are renowned for singing and there were always relatives coming round our house to do just that. The pubs were always full of great voices so it's certainly part of my heritage.
The Irish film industry has many great traditions. How important is it for you to go back to them?
Well I can't speak for my colleagues and have never really discussed going back to Ireland with any fellow Irish actors, but my take on it is that I am Irish, Ireland is where I had my early upbringing, England is part of that legacy as well, and I use it all as fodder for my work. Ireland has a great community of writers, directors and actors and we have a few other projects we've talked about taking back there. THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION, in which we have Julianne Moore co-starring, is one we'll definitely be taking back.
It must give you a great deal of satisfaction to know that your name on a project now actually gets the film made. Is this part of your mission statement, that you commit yourself to a product and get it out there while others might go for blockbusters?
Well it does help. James Bond has been an enormous benefit with regards to getting movies like this made, like THE NEPHEW or THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. Bond is a wonderful role to play and a great job, which I enjoy immensely. When you have that clout, that a character like Bond brings, it's what do you do with it, its how you position yourself hopefully for a career that will have longevity. There might come a point when I'd like to direct or write my own pieces and this is a great platform to work from.
What were the toughest challenges with this project?
Raising the money to get it all started! The job was easy to do - I had a great script and ensemble cast - the hardest part was putting the picture together in the space of time that we had. It was a challenge when you had a pocket of money to start with and then certain parties decided to cut the budget but we surprised them when we told them we were still going to make the film either way. The actual doing of the picture was just a joy for every man and woman working on it. They don't come around that often and I'm deeply proud of it. I hope it touches people's hearts and that they come away from the cinema saying, "That was a great night at the pictures".
How will you be celebrating St. Patrick's Day tonight?
As I usually do - having one or two pints of Guinness.