As one of Hollywood’s most prominent Irish actors, Pierce Brosnan has seemingly done it all. His iconic stint as the world’s greatest spy, James Bond 007, in the 90s and early 2000s (from GoldenEye to Die Another Day) may have defined a generation, but Brosnan has never been content to let his most famous role be what defines him.
His acting career has seen him in all sorts of projects, from the celebratory camp of the Mamma Mia! movies to the political thrills of The Ghost Writer to the ridiculousness of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga to the blockbuster superhero ambitions of DC’s Black Adam. While Brosnan brings his signature suave and charm to everything he does, the films and characters he brings to life have all been uniquely memorable.
Now, at the impressive age of 70, Brosnan is still proving that his best performances are yet to come. His latest movie, Fast Charlie, sees the actor donning an amusing Mississippi drawl in the title role of Charlie Swift, an aging fixer and hitman whose latest job ends up being more trouble than it’s worth.
Based on the novel Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler, Fast Charlie is filled with plenty of dry wit and clever theatrics that help the film stand out from the usually action-focused genre it’s playing in. Directed by Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, Salt, The Giver), Charlie’s latest assignment from friend and mob boss Stan Mullen (James Caan in his final film appearance) goes sideways when his target accidentally gets their head blown clean off.
This presents a unique problem for a professional like Charlie. Now, there’s no way to prove the headless body is the intended target of the employer who paid for the hit, New Orlean’s most ruthless mobster Beggar Mercado (Gbenga Akinnagbe). With nowhere else to turn, Charlie enlists the help of Marcie Kramer (Morena Baccarin), the ex-wife of the guy he just killed, and the two outcasts form an unexpected bond on their unorthodox mission.
We caught up with Pierce Brosnan earlier this December to discuss Fast Charlie, how Phillip Noyce’s thriller inspired him in other artistic endeavors, and what it was like to spend time with legendary actor James Caan in his final days.
Exclusive Interview with Pierce Brosnan for Fast Charlie
How are you doing today? Wonderful to talk to you.
Pierce Brosnan: Really good. Nice to speak to you too. I’m down here in Miami. So that’s why you see this beautiful backdrop (chuckles). It looks like it’s been planned, but it’s very impromptu. I’m down here in Miami for the Miami Art Basel of it all. So we’ve just come from a wonderful luncheon talking about art. I have five paintings here, and Fast Charlie.
That’s actually one of my questions – I know how much you love painting and was curious if your time working on Fast Charlie maybe inspired that artistic side of you as well?
Pierce Brosnan: Yes, thank you for asking. It did! I have a couple of pieces from my time on Fast Charlie in New Orleans. I had the most wonderful time there with two good friends of mine who I’ve made many movies with. Also, I had my brothers with me, Brian and Rick. And wherever I go, I always go to the local art store and I buy canvas and tablets so I can establish some sense of normality in my life, and that would be painting. So yes, I have a couple of pieces from Fast Charlie here. I haven’t shown them, as of yet. But fluorescent paint looks so good (laughs), that’s all I can say.
When I was watching this film, I made a note that I had hoped the relationship between you and Morena Baccarin’s characters wouldn’t turn into a romance. But to my surprise, by the end of the film, that’s what made the most sense.
Pierce Brosnan: Well, I think it comes from the writing. I think it comes from the writing of Richard Wenk, who adapted the movie, and Phillip Noyce, the director, and Morena. It was about finding these two people who are outside of society, two people who eventually find each other. It was that kind of interaction that just happened.
A lot of the talk around this movie will be about how it’s James Caan’s final film appearance. What can you share about your time working with him on Fast Charlie?
Pierce Brosnan: Well, it was a week’s work. We had a very short time together. And James, Jimmy – he knew that he was close. He had given up his time and so every day was poignant. We had been friends for many years and he was like a father figure to me. Little Pierce was such a huge fan of James Caan’s work. I remember him bursting onto the screen in The Godfather and then following this man’s work. And now here we were, at this transitional time in his life. It was beautiful. It was poignant.
One morning, we were having a cup of tea and I said, “Let’s run the scene.” Jimmy was in a wheelchair and he had his respirator, but he was still full of the crack. He still had the bite in the humor. We were going through the scene and he said, “I think I’m going to the dark side.” We all know what that means. I said, “Well, please don’t do it right now, Jimmy. Let’s just have a cup of tea. Let’s get through the scene” (laughter).
So there was a dark sense of humor between the two of us and in those moments, but it was brilliant. I was so honored to have worked with James Caan and have been part of his life. You know, Phillip Noyce, the director, would roll the camera in and Jimmy would just wax lyrical. We would do the scene or only a bit of dialogue, and he always gave off pure charisma even then.
I think that works for the film and the characters as well, what you were saying about having a dark sense of humor. I love all the one-liners and the dryness to the comedy. Do you have any favorite lines that you can remember?
Pierce Brosnan: Oh my gosh. I’m sure there are a few but it’s too early in the game to indulge in such memorabilia of quotes.
Understandable. The opening of the film sets everything in motion, with the guy getting his head blown off by an exploding donut. That really helps set the mood for what you’re about to see.
Pierce Brosnan: It does. It really does. And that brilliant young actor, Brennan [Keel Cook]… that’s the nice thing about getting older – you kind of get enlivened by the beauty, strength, and charisma of the youth that you once were and could have been. When you see young actors come on with performances like that, it’s always captivating. He lit it up in that opening sequence, the beats and the timing were so good. So, that keeps you sharp. You think, “Oh shit!” You only think you know the scene. It was a good morning’s work.