THE MATADOR - Q&A with PIERCE BROSNAN and producer BEAU ST CLAIR at the London Press Conference
As the actor who was James Bond for four movies in seven years, Pierce Brosnan became known the world over. But he has been quick to diversify the roles he plays, contrasting that suave 007 image with such varied movies as DANTE'S PEAK, ROBINSON CRUSOE, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, GREY OWL and THE TAILOR OF PANAMA.
THE MATADOR consigns the Bond image to history with Brosnan playing Julian Noble, an amoral hitman enduring a nervous breakdown while on a mission in Mexico City. So he enlists the help of a total stranger (Greg Kinnear) to complete this crucial hit.
Brosnan serves as star and producer on the film, aided by producing partner Beau St Clair who has worked with him on such films as THE NEPHEW, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, EVELYN and LAWS OF ATTRACTION. They will next collaborate on BUTTERFLY ON A WHEEL and a sequel to THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.
You seem to have worked harder than any of your predecessors to keep from being typecast as James Bond. Has that always been easy to achieve?
BROSNAN: I was aware going into Bond that if I got it right I was going to be labelled as Bond, so I had to look ahead and try and carve a niche for myself outside of that role. So yeah, there was very much an awareness on my behalf. And when the success happened with GOLDEN EYE, Beau and I formed a company to make films we liked. But the success of Bond has been bountiful to us as a company and to me as an actor.
ST CLAIR: With Pierce travelling the world and there being so much money put into branding him as Bond we always feel like that's a blessing, but that we should try to take the opportunity to go off and really work and do different roles and different kinds of movies to balance that so you don't get boxed in. That way people don't think 'aah that's what this actor does', this one thing.
THE MATADOR is a quite different piece of work, how did the script come into your hands?
ST CLAIR: It was the agent of writer-director Richard Shepard who sent it to us as a writing sample for the next THOMAS CROWN movie. Our company read it and I think the first thing we thought was that it was an amazing piece, and an incredible character. Pierce read it and he was like 'wow'. So I got Richard in and we talked a little bit and said we really wanted to do this. He said 'really? I was just gonna do it with a camera and myself as a really low budget $200,000 film.
BROSNAN: I came into the office one day and they were all talking about the movie and the rest is history, so to speak.
What research did you draw on for the character?
BROSNAN: I found a wonderful woman in LA who was a criminal psychologist dealing with psychopaths. She read the script, broke it down and analysed him as she would any of her cases. After that I talked with her and read her notes.
There are very real concerns about filming in Mexico City, aren't there?
ST CLAIR: I lived in Mexico City after college and loved it. It's a passionate, artistic place. But there's a lot of poverty so that creates the edge and the danger there, with kidnappings, it's wild. So we had to think right from the beginning in planning this movie about putting a security team around us, and around the people travelling in from the States because we had an international crew.
BROSNAN: The great thing about making movies is going off on an adventure to far flung places whether it be Nigeria, or Panama or in this case Mexico City. So I was up for it and very jazzed for it. I was worried for my family, they were worried for me. The week before we left there was a big article in the LA Times all about these kidnappings. So I tried to hide it from my wife and put it under the sofa, then Sunday afternoon the kids came and jumped on Dad on the sofa and my wife found the article. So there was a real, deep concern for my welfare. But the people down there embraced us, we embraced them back and there were no problems.
What practical measures did you have to take?
ST CLAIR: Our security team brought in armoured vehicles, Tony Scott had just made MAN ON FIRE and he used these bullet proof Broncos, and our guys brought them in for the actors. There's also a follow car, so if you're kidnapped then they can drive after you. We actually found out that the guy from the armoured car company got kidnapped leaving the studio. He'd dropped the cars off and went and got a taco out in front of Churubusco [Studios] and the next thing you know he got kidnapped. I thought this was how it was going to start, every day there was a story, something was going on in the city. They want your ATM card, they take you for that and keep you for as long as you have money in your bank account. It was a big drama. I'd see people following us in cars wondering who they were, getting all paranoid, but it was just our own counter surveillance team trying to be secretive.
There was presumably a big advantage in taking those risks and shooting there, wasn't there?
BROSNAN: Mexico is a huge character in the film - we got all those other fabulous locations from it too, Arizona, Budapest, so it was palpable. Being in this city that has a kind of darkness to it, it made us kind of cluster together at the Camino Real Hotel and gave it a wonderful sense of community. There were no mishaps, although I had to change cars a couple of times when we had blow-outs for some unknown reason...three!
ST CLAIR: They puncture the tyre right where the valve is, they know you're going to blow out and that means you'll blow out and that confusion is like a really good time. There were cars following him, seriously scary looking guys in black Broncos, coming to set and wanting to get in. We just kept our awareness up, you could never let your guard down but in the end the people were amazing, and it was fine.
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