Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson team up in Joel Hopkins’ romantic comedy caper, The Love Punch, about a divorced couple who embark on a whirlwind action adventure across Europe to recover their retirement savings after it’s embezzled by an unscrupulous French businessman (Laurent Lafitte). The story is funny, sexy and occasionally poignant as the characters navigate middle age, survive the financial crisis, and rekindle their love for each other. Now playing in limited release, The Love Punch was shot on location in France and also stars Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie and Louise Bourgoin.
In a 2-on-1 interview at the film’s recent press day, Brosnan spoke about how fantastic it was working with Thompson, the appeal of the role, how the film pokes fun at some of his most iconic performances, dressing up in a wetsuit, nailing the screwball comedy tone of the movie, the excitement of shooting on location in Versailles, his collaboration with long-time friend and producing partner Beau St. Clair, his upcoming projects including A Long Way Down, November Man, How to Make Love Like an Englishman, The Coup, Survivor, The Moon and the Sun, rumors of a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel, and ideas for a follow-up to The Love Punch. Check out the interview after the jump.
PIERCE BROSNAN: Oh God, if she was here, I wouldn’t get a word in edgewise. She’s so entertaining, first of all. We did the Toronto Film Festival together. We started the morning, and I worked with her and went over the bits, and she just took off like the clappers. I just talked my talk, talked around the Mulberry Bush, whatever. She is wildly entertaining. I like her a lot. Working with her on this was fantastic. It was out of the box great. It was just such a memorable summer. It really was. We hit the ground running day one, scene one, like we’d been working together forever. We’d wanted to work with each other for many years. She came to my GoldenEye premiere with James Bond. There was just a real fondness for each other. From my point of view, she’s such a gifted woman, such a gifted lady, beautiful, kind, gracious, affable. What more can I say?
What was the appeal of the role? Was it the combination of the humor and the action along with some of the fun nods to your career?
BROSNAN: I certainly got the jokes within the joke, dressing up in a wet suit, sitting in a Twingo, scaling a rubber mountain, dressing up and stealing a diamond, of course. (Laughs) If not now, when? Joel (Hopkins) and I had talked often about this kind of humor and this kind of film. And then, our relationship was one where there was a strong desire to work with each other and I think an understanding. So, all the ingredients were ripe for the doing.
It is a bit odd though to see Timothy Spall in a wetsuit scaling a wall.
BROSNAN: It’s quite a sight to behold. They gave him the wrong size wetsuit. They had to slit it up the back. (Laughs) You can actually see it in the film if you freeze it. Poor Timothy, oh he was miserable. They gave him a three-ply and it was a summer’s day. It was so hot. We were out on this seaside resort, and these poor people, they saw these four actors in full wetsuits going down the beach. I mean, there were extras, but then there were also people who were just regular visitors.
I assume they responded exactly the same way as the extras?
BROSNAN: Oh yeah, and when you see one of the extras that looks like a former James Bond, it’s kind of funny. (Laughs) It’s really ridiculous and silly. I thought also there was a poignancy within the film because of the assault that happens to this man, Richard, who loses everything in the financial crash of our times, the shameful negligence of our banking community and how they ripped asunder so many people’s lives. I thought it was a great springboard into something audacious like this, where you would be driven to the extremes of saying, “Well, let’s steal the diamond. Let’s just rob a bank….peacefully.” So, it’s a romp. It’s a screwball comedy. I think it wears its heart on its sleeve.
BROSNAN: Bliss. Utter joy. It started in the south of France. It started at the Carlton Hotel. I woke up. It was a gorgeous morning. I fed the seagulls. I came to my little balcony to the suite that I had at the top of the hotel. I was brushing my teeth, and I came back in the room, and the seagull was sitting on the table. (Laugh) It was a very bold seagull. I went down, and we all met each other and we started the play. It’s the scene where they come out there in the revolving door and they have to go for a pee. They have lovely French lunches where there’s wine. I actually sat on the front, on the Croisette. Then, we went back to work and continued with the day and that’s how the shoot went. It was very civilized. It was very otherworldly romantic. I mean, it was a retro-type film and this was a retro-type shoot really. Here I was with these three magnificent actors and we’re playing.
The screwball comedy tone of it is a very tricky thing to nail. How do you approach that to get the tone of the movie right?
BROSNAN: I think it has to start with sincerity and honesty and a good story. It has to be founded within a truthfulness of the character and storytelling, so then you can go off the rails but always come back to it. In this case, this man is middle-aged, divorced, playing the field with women that are too young for him. It’s that man-boy type mentality. There’s a good, strong foundation in that and two people that really love each other. There’s a certain melancholic whimsy to it. They’d like to get back together. They don’t quite know how to get back together, and through these adverse circumstances, they find their path. They find new life. It’s terribly romantic, sentimental and glorious. For me, it was always that and then the wetsuits. It’s too much fun.
And then hiding behind the sofa in the chateau?
BROSNAN: Yes, hiding in the chateau. It’s funny, because we filmed at the Trianon which is in Versailles, and I’ve just spent the last month in Paris and Versailles for this next film I’m doing. So I ended up in the same location at the Trianon which is a beautiful old hotel.
Were there any surprises during production?
BROSNAN: No. None. It was easy, breezy. Joel and I, we had known each other because my company, Irish DreamTime, had projects that we were talking to him about. And then, The Love Punch came up, and Emma wanted to work with me, and I wanted to work with her, and the money was there. Let’s go make the movie. Let’s celebrate and have fun.
BROSNAN: Well, there are seven movies. (Laughs) I’m on number seven. The world could be sick of me. Enough. Thank you very much. That’s it. Stop, stop. Go away. Prior to The Love Punch, I hadn’t worked for about six or eight months. I’d taken time off, and sometimes you take time off, and then you look around and you go, “Hello. What happened? Oh dear!” So there’s The Love Punch, and then after that, I did A Long Way Down which is coming out based on Nick Hornby’s novel with Toni Collette. That was another quartet ensemble piece and that’s really lovely.
I loved that book.
BROSNAN: Yes, I like Nick Hornby.
I was worried they weren’t going to get around to actually making that film. They’d been working on it for years.
BROSNAN: Well, we did it. I think it’s great. That’s just come out in England, and this one opens today. And then I went off and I did my own movie, November Man, in Serbia, which is back in the spy game. I’m going to see that this afternoon. I haven’t seen it, so mild anxiety, a little show and tell. I mean, it’s good. It’s really great. Roger Donaldson directed it. He and I did Dante’s Peak together. If that were to find some traction, maybe I could go again with it. And then, we did another one right after that called How to Make Love Like an Englishman with Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba and Malcolm McDowell. We shot it all in Malibu, so I got to go to work in my hometown. We finished that one and then I went off to Thailand and did one with Owen Wilson called The Coup which was a great piece of malarkey for me. And then, Survivor with Milla Jovovich, and now I’m doing The Moon and the Sun playing Louis XIV in this fable. Vonda McIntyre wrote a book called The Moon and the Sun and it’s a fantasy piece – Ursula Le Guin and that kind of storytelling. I’ve been in Versailles for the last three weeks – in Versailles, dancing for nights in the Hall of Mirrors as the King. A young actress called Kaya Scodelario from Skins plays my daughter. William Hurt plays Pere La Chaise. It’s beautiful. It’s Bill Mechanic. It’s his pet project.
I imagine it takes some string-pulling to shoot in Versailles?
BROSNAN: I don’t know how the heck he did it, but he did it. I’m riding my horse, riding my big white charger with twelve Musketeers down the alleys. It was fantastic.
BROSNAN: Oh, I tell you, it’s just bewitching. I’ve never been on a location, even during the days of Bond and other films I’ve done in India and wherever, just to be in Versailles, to be reading Nancy Mitford who did a wonderful book on him, The Sun King, to be there and to be dressed. It’s not on the nose historical, so my character is more like Jim Morrison meets Alexander McQueen meets Tom Ford. It’s very stylish and high vogue. Fan Bingbing plays the Mermaid. But regardless of all that, just the history of it and just who this man was, everything starts and ends with Louis – architecturally, how we live our lives today, the emblems, architecture, style. So there you go. I’m busy.
There’s been mention in the news recently about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. Is that a possibility?
BROSNAN: I just heard it from you guys today, one after the other. (Laughs) I was the last one to hear about it. “By the way, you’re going to be in Mrs. Doubtfire 2.” “Really? I’ve got a job! Thank God.” That’s always good. That’s what I tell my boys. “Get a job, get a job.”
Which of the films you’ve recently completed were developed by your production company?
BROSNAN: November Man and How To Make Love Like an Englishman. Those are Irish DreamTime. Both projects we had for five years and suddenly they came together. Just bam, got the money, got the director. Englishman had a director, lost a director, had a director who died actually, George Hickenlooper, and then another one and another one, and so I was losing faith. But luckily, I have a producing partner who’s a great woman and made me snap out of it.
You mentioned you were going to watch one of your films today? How are you generally with watching your own performances?
BROSNAN: I’m not very comfortable with it. I don’t particularly find a great joy in it. Everything is the process of making it, of getting it, getting the job, saying yes to the job. Those are the joys. Making it is the greatest joy. And then, you have to show the bloody thing. You have to show and tell, be judged. But I don’t listen. I don’t pay much attention. I hear the rumblings of greatness or the arrows of discontent and harsh words. Then you go, “Oh God. Why?”
The reaction to this one seems very positive.
BROSNAN: This just wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s just pure entertainment. When you’re dancing with someone like Emma Thompson, you just can’t go too far wrong really. She’s such a gift and liked erudite with a bedazzling flair for acting, performance, and so on. No, I feel good. I feel good about them all to tell you the truth. I think they’ve all got good value of entertainment. I think November Man will be interesting for the people who’ve seen me as Bond and followed my career. I think it’s a hard film. It’s going to be hard, tough, and moves like the clappers. I’ve seen this bit and that bit and that bit, and it’s like [whistles to suggest a very fast pace]. If I like them, then it’s half the battle. Sometimes you go, “Oh…alright.”
How was it shooting this film? Was it fairly fast paced?
BROSNAN: It was pretty fast. They’re all pretty fast now. Less money. No time. Get it in the can. Get it out. My work is all in the independent film world now. Something like this, if it’s well written and it’s on the page and everyone knows what they’re doing, you don’t have to overthink it. You just go into the room and rehearse it, shoot it, shoot, shoot, cover it, and move on. You don’t have to overthink and that’s the way it should be.
It’s surprising that you and Emma haven’t paired up before because you seem so natural together.
BROSNAN: Maybe sometimes the best things are worth waiting for possibly. I have no idea. She came to GoldenEye all those years ago, and we’d keep on bumping into each other and say we’re going to do something together. “Darling, darling, we must do something together!” (Laughs) So I said, “Okay, we’ll get around to it. Go find it. Give me a call.” It would be nice to do it again.
Where else could you go with this story?
BROSNAN: Oh we’ll do something else just to annoy the audience. We’re at sea. There’s a storm, and there’s an island, and there’s a trip around the world in the boat. That’s it. On the boat, there’s Act One. End of Act One, the storm. Act Two, the Somalis. I tell you, I think we’re onto something here.
It’ll be the first screwball comedy with Somali pirates.
BROSNAN: Well, we’ve got the two guys. They could be in it. Barkhad Abdi from Captain Phillips. I met those two guys at an Oscar party. They were so sweet and so endearing. Harvey Weinstein and all of his glitterati were in London. These two dudes were so happy to meet a James Bond, the Irish one.
BROSNAN: Beau St. Clair finds projects. I go to work, and she finds projects and sends me things. She’s a very patient woman and she’s a dear, dear friend. The Thomas Crown Affair was sitting when we made the company all those years ago. She said, “What do you want to do?” John Calley gave us offices, these big offices, a massive desk, and I said, “Well, I’m Irish. I should do something Irish.” She found The Nephew. We raised $5 million and then made the movie. And then, when we were sitting over coffee one morning, both of us live in Malibu. I love Steve McQueen. She loves Steve McQueen. I think she was the one that said, “Thomas Crown” and I said, “I’ve always loved the music from Thomas Crown. I loved that song.” So we went to Blockbuster and got a copy, watched it, and I said “Yeah. This is good. I could get away with this.” He was not a suit actor. I do suit acting from time to time. So it was as simple as that really. We went to the studio and they said, “Yeah.” There you go.
I definitely think you got away with it for that one.
BROSNAN: (Laughs) Got away! There was good alchemy there. Two weeks before shooting I was fit to be tied. I could hardly breathe. But anyway, there you go. It’s Beau really. I mean, she sends me stuff and sometimes it doesn’t work, but she’s the one. I’m blessed to have such a good friend and good producing partner.