Now playing in theaters is director Roger Donaldson’s (The Bank Job, No Way Out) action thriller The November Man. Based on Bill Granger’s novel There are No Spies from the bestselling November Man book series, the film stars Pierce Brosnan as an ex-CIA operative who is lured out of retirement on a personal mission. While on the assignment, he finds himself trying to protect a valuable witness (Olga Kurylenko) while his former pupil (Luke Bracey) is trying to hunt him down. The film also stars Eliza Taylor, Caterina Scorsone, Bill Smitrovich and Will Patton. For more on The November Man, watch the trailer or check out all our previous coverage.
A few days ago I landed an exclusive phone interview with Luke Bracey. He talked about what the last year has been like, working with Roger Donaldson, getting to work with Pierce Brosnan and the advice he gave him, Janusz Kaminski’s American Dream, the Point Break remake, playing Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, what he’s going to do after he wraps Point Break, and more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
LUKE BRACEY: I’m very well, thank you. We’ve had a week of night shoots and so I slept until about an hour ago. It’s quite a nice day here in Austria. It’s beautiful.
You’re filming in Austria?
BRACEY: Yeah, we’re kind of filming all around the world. I’m on Point Break at the moment and we’re kind of going every which way. I just get in the car or I get on a plane and we go to location. It’s been a crazy trip so far and we’re about half way through, so more to come.
I believe Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg are in Vienna right now filming Mission Impossible.
BRACEY: Oh are they? We’re about two hours from Vienna. We’re in a place called Villach and it’s a lovely, beautiful little lake. The countryside here is absolutely spectacular.
BRACEY: Yeah, I’ve been in Los Angeles since toward the end of 2010, and you go to a bunch of auditions, and I’ve been close to a number of quite big roles for the past few years. Me and my agents and manager always thought it was just a matter of time. If you’re getting this close, the right one’s going to come up. I was really lucky with November Man, it kind of kicked it off. To do a movie with Pierce [Brosnan] and Roger Donaldson, two very experienced and fantastic filmmakers – I mean, there’s no real better way to really kick it off. I finished that, went back home to Australia and then came back here and got Best of Me and Point Break in a couple weeks time. Best of Me, I had about three or four weeks between that and then I went off to Berlin for Point Break. When it rains it pours kind of thing, but one thing I’ve been really fortunate with is that they’ve all been very different movies and that’s something that I kind of want to do with my career is make some different movies, because I love watching all different kinds of movie. I am a very fortunate person and I’ll be the first one to tell you that yeah, I’ve put in a lot of work for it, but yeah it has kind of happened quite quickly. I’m just trying not to think about it too much. I’m trying to just do my job and work hard for the next few years and then I’ll stick my head up and see where I am.
BRACEY: [Laughs] Actually yeah, that was very hard. I actually said that to him. I said, “I don’t know how many times I’ve played Goldeneye 64.” It was the game when I was a kid. You’d go around and have Goldeneye parties with your friend, just playing the four split screens, and you’d have to make sure no one was Oddjob because he was too hard to kill [laughs]. It was pretty surreal meeting Pierce, but he’s just a lovely man. We got along like a house on fire from the very beginning. That really made it easy and it really made working with him an absolute pleasure. It broke down all the nervousness I had, kind of little kid star struck. It was great fun working with Pierce. He taught me a lot in terms of professionalism and how to take care of yourself on these action movies. They’re fairly long shoots and they’re fairly physical and fairly emotional, so you have to maintain yourself and make sure you can make it all the way through. That’s something I learned from him.
BRACEY: You actually said No Way Out and that is a movie that I absolutely love. I’m very jealous of anyone I meet who’s never seen it, because they get to see it for the first time. I think it’s a fantastic movie. I actually saw it a couple of months before I auditioned for The November Man and then when the email came over saying I had an audition for Roger Donaldson I was kind of beside my self. I absolutely love that film. Roger – yeah, we had a great relationship. He’s an Australian and so am I, so there’s this automatic fraternity involved in that and we kind of get each other’s jokes and sense of humor in a way. He was very open to my ideas on Mason and very easy to get along with. I learned some great things from Roger. It’s tough making a movie and Roger’s very good at it. I remember one time – we didn’t have a huge budget for this and we were filming without a second unit, and to do that with an action movie is very hard, I remember one day Roger said, “Mate, we’ve paid everyone to be here for twelve hours, so if we go home early we’re missing something.” That really stuck with me. I think that’s a great way of looking at it. You’ve got your day’s work and if you think you’ve finished early, there’s always something else you can get, there’s always another thing you can do, and there’s always another way to make the movie better. Roger’s work ethic and love for filmmaking was something that I took from.
You mention Pierce gave you some advice or pointers. Was there one thing that he told you that stuck with you while you’ve been filming these other movies, especially Point Break, in terms of how you take care of yourself during the long shoot?
BRACEY: Really the one thing that Pierce told me and that I’ve taken with me is to have fun doing it. As much as we dive into some serious characters and some serious situations and all that, you’ve got to enjoy it and remember that you’re here to make entertainment and to make people have a nice time when they watch the movie. To me that was something I really took away. At the end of the day it is just a movie and we should remember that we’re doing it for the audience and we should have fun doing it. If we have fun doing it, it will come across on the screen.
I know everybody is asking you about Point Break, and I wont lie I’m very curious about that movie, but I want to know what you can tell me about American Dream? Your director on that is kind of a genius cinematographer.
BRACEY: Yeah, that was a movie I did a few years ago. I mean Janusz Kaminski is an absolute legend. I was so thrilled when I got to work with him, just to stand there and watch him put a camera somewhere and make it look completely different to what it actually was. I’m not sure what’s happening with that movie. For me that was such a great learning experience, just to see how a real professional, a real legend of movie making makes a movie, how much fun he has on a movie. He was like a kid in a candy store when he came to set. He couldn’t be happier, and it was really infectious, and just a warm, kindhearted, loving man. Yeah, I’m interested to see what’s happening with that. It was a great learning experience. I was still fairly green. I hadn’t made too many movies and to make something with someone who was so experienced and so well respected, it was intimidating but a fantastic experience. I loved every minute of it.
BRACEY: For me, I will not hesitate in saying that I am the biggest fan in the world of the original and I’ve seen it a thousand times. So the pressure mainly came from myself in terms of, “Alright you love this movie so much, so go out and do it justice.” Yeah, there’s been a lot of love for it. Luckily, I’ve only really heard positive things and people are really excited. I think it’s a good time to bring this movie back to life. It’s got such a cult following, not just in America, but all around the world. It’s a huge movie. Me and my friends in Australia know the lines by heart, basically every line in the movie I can quote. So for me it was daunting for sure, but if they’re going to remake it I felt that I wanted to be the one to do it, because I love it so much and I wanted to do it justice, and I wanted to leave what the original was and leave it as it is, and then just update it and bring it to 2015. To me it’s been a tremendous experience. It’s been very hard work .I’m in every scene, I’m at work every day and it’s long and arduous, and very physical and very emotional actually. So it’s been a great challenge, but I’m the kind of guy that really enjoys a challenge. And also fear is a fantastic motivator for me. I’ll tell you I’ve never worked so hard on anything in my life. Hopefully people enjoy it. We think we’re making a movie with a lot of truth in it and a bit more than just an action movie. So at the end of the day I hope people enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed the experience.
BRACEY: For me it has to be Point Break. I watched the cartoons of G.I. Joe when I was a kid, but it wasn’t as big for me as Point Break was. No, Point Break for me – growing up on the beaches of Sydney as a surfer it was kind of the movie that we watched ever week. For me to be Johnny Utah, I’m beside myself. I still wake up every day and wonder if it’s actually real and then I go to work for fourteen hours and go, “Yeah, this is real.” It’s so exciting.
I’m only teasing, but I think it’s insane that you got to play Cobra Commander, as someone who grew up with G.I. Joe.
BRACEY: Yeah, absolutely. A good friend of mine really loves G.I. Joe and I remember when I got the role he was beside himself, and so was I. The really cool thing for me – I have these Cobra Commander action figures and I got to get one and give one to my little nephew. That was a pretty cool feeling. To me, playing an evil genius mad scientist is an absolute thrill. It’s something that I hadn’t done and maybe I won’t do for a while. I really loved it.
Have you already thought about what you’re going to do after Point Break? Or do you think you’re going to take some time off and just relax for a second?
BRACEY: Yeah, as soon as I finish shooting this it’s back to Los Angeles, I’m going to pack my bags, I’m going to spend a weekend in New York, and then I’m straight back to Australia for the summer. Five or six weeks of sitting on the beach, surfing, and hanging out with my friends and family over Christmas and New Year. Then the idea is, what I want to do, what would be great, is to work really hard for the first half of next year, then obviously do all the press and promotional stuff for Point Break and then I’ll have to see where I’m at. Maybe I’ll go hide somewhere for a couple months after it comes out [laughs].