Pierce Brosnan hasn’t been back to Austin since he wrapped filming on his new AMC series The Son, but he just checked, and his paddleboard is still at the lake.
“I was happy to see it was still there,” says Brosnan, after ordering a glass of Chardonnay at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin. “I brought it and my bike here from California while we were filming. There is a lot of spiritual energy in the ground here, and I loved living here.”
For Brosnan, The Son was more than just an opportunity to stay in Texas for a few months. The adaptation of Philipp Meyers’ best-selling novel offered him a chance to pay homage to the western characters of his youth, and the chance to ride again. “I like horses and I like guns,” he says, laughing. “I like to think I know a little something about both.”
Brosnan’s comfort with a steed was something he kept close to the vest, even hiding it from the series creator. “There was a night scene we were filming out in a field with cactus everywhere,” says Meyers, who was on set during the shoot. “All of a sudden Pierce’s horse gallops into the dark out of sight, and we thought that he was gone for good. It turned out that he just wanted to take him for a little joy ride. The guy is like a master horse whisperer.”
From all accounts it seems like there is very little that Brosnan can’t do, as he shines in the role of family patriarch Eli McCullough. Men’s Journal spoke with the Irish actor about his first return to television since Remington Steele, growing beards, and why he now thinks twice before drinking martinis sent by fans.
This is a bit of a departure from the roles we have seen you in recently.
One hopes to be an unexpected surprise. I feel like this character found me at the right time of my life. It was the last role that I was expecting to do last summer. [It came] completely out of left field. I had read the book before. The Wild West has always appealed to me. I grew up on the banks of the River Boyne in Southern Ireland as a young boy. There were only two cinemas around in that country town. There I was growing up on westerns, but when we played, I always ended up playing the Indian.
What was it about Eli McCullough that appealed to you?
Eli just connected to my bones. I didn’t have much time to really think about it. There was no time to second-guess it, because the role was originally going to be played by Sam Neill, who is a friend, but he had to drop out. I called him up and said, “I hope I don’t screw this up for you.” So I came to the show in the 11th hour. I play the old man, so there was no acting required. But he is an old man born of violence, with a brutal and savage life from the beginning. There is a duality to the fact that he is as much Comanche as he is English. There is something truly mythical about him, which appealed to me.
For such short notice, the beard looks pretty good.
I just had about five weeks before we started filming. So I just had the beard growing through the filming process. So as you watch it, the beard just gets bigger, grayer, and more commanding.
Did you enjoy getting to ride again?
I own a few horses. I used to ride a lot. I did another western with Liam Neeson called Seraphim Falls, which was a little-known movie but allowed me to ride.
How did you build the accent?
The accent I just went with, because I had to make strong decisions. I let myself off the hook a little bit, being Irish. Everyone was an immigrant then, so the accents were different. I would listen to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Rick Perry. Then whatever audio I could get of politicians. I found a few that I like, like Congressman Ted Poe. The first scene that we shot was Episode One, and you just open your mouth and see what voice comes out.
I have to ask, how many drinks get sent your way since you played Bond?
The martinis do come from time to time. There is a story that goes with that, which I’m not sure if I should tell.
You absolutely should.
[Laughs] Okay. I was in Australia for the Bond movie the first time around, and we are hanging out by the water, by the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I asked, “Has anyone every walked over that? Because I would love to.” They said that nobody had, but one of the guys there happened to be an ex cop. The very next morning we walked right over the bridge. Just like that. Right into the Crows Nest, just because I wanted to do it and I was Bond. Time goes on and I am no longer James Bond. I am back in Sydney promoting another movie. Following a long day of work we go to a restaurant that night that is right by the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I go in with my buddies, and someone sends me a martini, which I drink. I decide once again that I want to walk over the bridge. Six years have gone by, and now it is like Disneyland. They have a whole safety vest situation with tourists going over the bridge. They give me a breathalyzer while I was sitting there with this orange jumpsuit. The lady came up to me and said that I couldn’t go over the bridge, because I had had that martini. So I said, “Fuck it.” I know a few good pubs nearby; let’s just go have some Guinness.
Being Bond seems to have its perks here and there.
I am just happy to have stood there in the role. Honored to have saved the world four times.
The Son premieres April 8 on AMC.