PIERCE BROSNAN Soho Hotel, London 18 April 2008
Q. Congratulations. Mamma Mia! - the movie is absolutely amazing!
A. It could be good. It could really be good!! I had the time of my life doing it. Really, I cannot wax lyrically enough about my experience with Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Julie Walters. And Phyllida Lloyd, the director, of course. And Judy Craymer and the world of Mamma Mia! Julie and Phyllida and Catherine Johnson, the writer, did create something that is enduring and meaningful and above all; entertaining.
Q. Have you sung in front of the camera before?
A. No, I did a movie with my company Irish DreamTime, a number of years ago, called Evelyn, and I sang in that. It was Irish pub songs. You know (starts singing) "yeah, diddly-diddly-diddly-doo!" with a pint of Guinness in my hand. It was a lot different than making a movie about ABBA.
Q. Which is your favourite ABBA song to sing?
A. In the movie the song I sing is "When It's All Said and Done". I also sing "SOS" with Meryl. The song "When It's a All Said and Done" is from the album "The Visitors", which some people consider ABBA's greatest album. It's when they were kind of splitting up and their lives were going in different directions, so the song has words that are very powerful and meaningful. On the album the song is a disco song, but for the musical and the movie they've brought it down to a ballad. It's a very sad song, you know. 'Here's to us, one last toast, then we pay the bill...' It's all about he and her and the life they've lived and were they are now in life.
Q. What's the strongest memory from making "Mamma Mia!"?
A. Seeing Meryl Streep and hearing her sing "The Winner Takes It All" will never, never be forgotten.
Q. Was it scary to sing?
A. I was terrified, terrified. It was the last thing I'd ever imagined to be offered a job like this, but the agent said 'Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia!, Greece', and I quickly said 'I'm in!' I didn't even ask 'how much?' just 'I'm in!' (laughs) I was in London at the time and they said 'we'd like you to go and see the play tomorrow night', so I went to see they play. I took my family and I realised as I sat in the theatre that I didn't know which role I was going to play. I'd forgotten to ask my agent which role I was meant to be playing. I knew about the play, the musical, I'd seen the posters on the side of buses in London and on the posters in the subways, but I had no idea what the show was about. I didn't know if the story was about ABBA themselves or whatever. So I sat in the theatre, the curtain went up and there was this rather simplistic set and I thought 'oh dear', but I also said to myself 'well, it must be good if Meryl Streep has said yes to it'. I said that mantra to myself many times over the next fifteen minutes, yet from the stage the songs were going out and I thought 'oh, I remember this one and I remember that one, this is good'. Everyone was giving it one hundred percent. And by the end of the night I was up on my feet going (starts singing) "Waterloo!!" Ahh, what am I doing?!! (laughs)
Q. Do you remember where you were in 1974 when ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with "Wateterloo"?
A. I was at York Theatre Royal. No... I was in drama school 74 to 76. They were on the cover of the Evening Standard. Swedish romping... Spandex. Oh, the blonde. Agneta. (deep lustful sigh and slowly shakes his head, smiling)
Q. In the movie we see photos of your character as a younger man, with a beard, moustache and long hippy hair. Did you ever have that look when you were younger?
A. When I went to drama school I had hair down to my shoulders, and a goatee beard and an earring. I was a little hippie. I thought I was the second coming to acting.
Q. You were right though.
A. Well, I don't know about that. (laughs) You soon get that kicked out of you (laughs) I just thought I was great, then I realised that I was pretty mediocre but had some talent in there somewhere.
Q. Were you a fan of ABBA when you were younger?
A. I do remember ABBA, I remember their great success very well. The hits kept coming and coming, and they were invincible. They were a great source of humour and parody and ridicules with their silly costumes and their capes, and boots... But they were in the same boat as everyone else style-wise at that time. Marc Bolan was equally as mad and crazy with the clothes. ABBA's music had heart and they wrote great truthfulness.
Q. What was your first meeting with Benny and Björn like?
A. They couldn't have been more gracious and welcoming, and more cool, hip and iconic. Charming, beautiful guys. It helped enormously with my fear and anxiety when I looked over at Colin Firth and then Stellan Skarsgård looking terrified. The three of us were like deer in the headlights. Three thespians about to sing ABBA...
Q. If you were to divide your life into phases, which phase would you say you're at now?
A. I think I'm just half way through the second act, aren't I? Please. Is this the second act? We have a long time to go, surely? I'm only 54 now.
Q. How do you keep so fit?
A. I have kids (laughs) I have a 7 year old and an 11 year old. I surf everyday, I live in Hawaii these days.
Q. Why did you move to Hawaii?
A. Just to get away. I'd like to be there when I enter the third act, you know. Perhaps then I can say 'now, lets get on with some painting and gardening'. My wife is a gardener and she's created the most beautiful garden for us. I like to paint and my life is so rich. Hawaii is like Ireland with the heat turned up.
Q. You're very committed to environmental issues, can you tell us something about that commitment?
A. I think we're all involved now. We're all in the same boat, because we're all on the same planet. If there's any mantra to be had or any meaningfulness to be gained from that work for ones children and ones children's children to have clean air and clean water We need to save this planet from haemorrhaging in order to have a sustainable future. Instead of just sitting around and wondering what to do or how to do it, I suggest that you get connected, switched on and start in your own backyard. Try to take care of something in your community that could help your community to build something that protects this earth, the beauty of this earth.
Q. Do you grow your own vegetables in your garden?
A. We do a few. Where we are everyone is a gardener really. We have fruit trees; bananas and papayas.
Q. Different from Ireland?
A. Yes (laughs) it’s very different from Ireland.
Q. Don't you miss a pint of Guinness?
A. I get it from the factory. The send it to me! (huge smile)
Q. Is it correct that you're an American citizen now?
A. I had to be. I had to have a voice. With the lunacy of Bush and his regime. Living with that for four years and seeing the debacle that happened between him and Al Gore. It was shocking blow and I'd been there for many years and so I wanted to become an American citizen, America had been good to me, and I had American sons, an American wife and an American life. It's my home, so before the last election I became an American citizen so that I could vote.
Q. Who do you want to become the next president of the USA?
A. Barrack would be a magnificent leader. The dignity is still there in the people, but spiritually it's been adrift. This war has been terrible and sad. But as we've seen in history books, the pendulum swings backwards and forwards and what we are seeing now is the kind of darkness before the light. I think that when the democrats get back in power, and I strongly believe they will, I think there will be new friendships made globally.
Q. Do you miss times being Bond?
A. No, not at all.
Q. What kind of father are you?
A. One always wants to be a good father. I'm loving, kind and I've become a wiser father since my early days of fatherhood. Time has become more powerful, Times past, time present, time future. Just being with my children, my boys, and doing things like learning how to surf.
Q. Are you a strict father?
A. No, luckily my wife is (smiles) she’s a great mother, a kind and loving mother, but she has the discipline that I don't have, which allows me to be the conquering hero.
Q. This movie, Mamma Mia!, was made by a very female team. The writers, producer and director were all women. Was there a different feel on the set, compared to on other movie sets?
A. Yes, it was beautiful. The female energy permeated. It was a great security and a great nurture, and I think Phyllida Lloyd, the director, is somebody who has an over whelming capacity to nurture people and performers. She has a sense and an intuition towards composition, creative artistic life, and that is transmitted to the company. Mamma Mia! Is Phyllida and Judy's life, it's the jewel in their crown. After they've done this movie they'll be able to move on in to any direction they want to. Phyllida wants to do an action movie, perhaps she should do another sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair (smiles).
Q. Mamma Mia! is a romantic movie, about eternal love. Do you believe in eternal love?
A. Love and only love. That’s all there is in life. Anything else is meaningless. Love is what makes the world go around. We all want to be in love, but you have to keep love going constantly. Love can peter off, but then it goes in to a friendship, it goes in to another kind of yearning, to the yearning of what that love once was. But then we have to, hopefully, have the intelligence and the courage to stay with that person and stay with the investigation. Unless there is something really twisted and mangled about it, then you have to walk away. You don't want to be the toxic people who live a toxic life, you have to drop those people quickly in life.
Q. You've been named one of the most beautiful people in the world. Is this good for your career or has it been made more difficult for you in your career because of your looks.
A. (blushing)... Eeeh. I used to be... I could have been a contender. But there you go. I've been blessed with finding acting. I've been blessed with employment as an actor, and I love it as much now as I did when I was 22, 23. There are challenges and one can always get better, it's work in progress.
Q. Have you ever been down? Have you ever been in a position where it was hard to get up and get moving again?
A. You've got to keep going. Oh yeah, I've been there. I'm the worst on myself, the hardest on myself and you know; when the black dog comes and sits beside you, it's not a great place to be at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning.
Q. How do you pick yourself up?
A. Oh, you know, I have a good talk with him up there nods towards the sky Have a good good prayer. Try and figure out what the problem in hand is. Can I solve the problem now? And if you can't solve the problem now, you leave it for another day and solve the problem at hand. Get on with it. Snap out of it.
Q. You could listen to some ABBA to get yourself in a happy mood?
A. (Laughs) Yes, and put on some lycra and dance. Oh, wait until you see the movie! It's so much fun and ABBA are so loved by everyone!