The Reel Breakdown

Pierce Brosnan Praises “Magnificent” Daniel Craig in ‘Skyfall’; Talks Romance in ‘Love Is All You Need’

The Reel Breakdown

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Trine Cyrholm and Pierce Brosnan in 'Love Is All You Need' (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

Pierce Brosnan might have turned in his license to kill, but that's not stopping him from talking Bond, James Bond.

Yahoo! Movies caught up with the 59-year-old actor in Manhattan to discuss his latest starring role, in Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's charming romcom "Love Is All You Need," opening Friday. The Irishman plays an embittered widower that gets a second chance at love with a cancer survivor (Trine Dyrholm) when they meet at their children's Italian wedding.

But, ever the gentleman, Brosnan graciously switched gears and discussed his years as Bond, where he fit in the 007 pantheon -- and seeing "Skyfall" for the first time.

We're here to talk about "Love Is All You Need," but let's get a few Bond questions out of the way. Have you seen the new ones with Daniel Craig?

I've only seen "Skyfall." I had to. I was in London doing a film with Toni Collette, so every time I'd walk out my door I'd see Daniel. Every time I'd turn the radio on I'd hear Adele. I said, "OK, no time like the present." There's enough space, time, and water under the bridge to see what this man has done.

And?

And I loved it. I did. I really did. I've covered a lot of ground since playing James Bond. I knew Daniel. We passed in the night, so to speak, and we spoke about life and how wonderful it was for him to do 007. He didn't need any words from me except: "Go forth, steal thunder, be Bond, and enjoy the ride."

Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

It only lasts a certain time. As you keep going down the road you realize that more and more, and so you become quite sanguine about it. You can enjoy life then, when you don't have that monkey on your back of striving the whole time and trying to be great.

I still want to be good as an actor. That burns passionately in my heart, that the next job will really nail it. I'll really do it to perfection.

Bond was a glorious time for me. I have nothing but gratitude for having played such a role. And Daniel is magnificent.

You had a Cary Grant style to your Bond. Craig's Bond is more muscular.

He's a very hard man. Daniel gives 150 percent of himself to it constantly, both physically and emotionally. He's a Bond for this age and this time.

How does that differ from your Bond?

Once I saw Matt Damon come onto the stage with "The Bourne Identity," I could see that the stakes had been upped. My era of playing Bond was still a cross-pollination of Sean Connery and Roger Moore. They hadn't made that leap into the next phase: the huge action, and a more brutal Bond.

Watching "Skyfall," how did M's death affect you?

I would have loved to have held her in my arms myself. I would have loved to have played that scene with her. But it was not meant to be for me. It was Daniel's moment and his time.

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Dame Judy [Dench] is such a magnificent lady in every sense of the word: as a human being and as an actress. Her presence on stage and screen is so magnetic. Her graciousness in life is so beautiful. So there you go. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Which means?

Thus passes the glory of the world.

Tell me about your world, now, post Bond: why did you take the role of the world-weary widower in "Love Is All You Need?" It's a Danish production, but it's predominantly in English.

This is a gorgeous role, a gorgeous director and a gorgeous time. I had been familiar with Susanne Bier's work and the whole Dogma filmmaking school. I had followed these men's and women's careers, and particularly hers. When my agent called me up with a script that was called "The Bald Headed Hairdresser" directed by Susanne, I was very intrigued. I read it, wondered how the hell I was going to fit into such a tableau, and Susanne assured me that she would write it for me. And she consequently did.

Were you attracted to your character's soulfulness? Philip's walking wounded despite being a very successful business man.

Yes. It was really the voice of the man that attracted me. Susanne had no idea of my own history of quote, unquote, tragedy, and the loss of losing a wife to cancer. That wasn't until we started filming. And we didn't even discuss that, really, but it was alluded to.

Philip is shut down. He's alive but not living.

He is closed down emotionally and quite adrift in his own aloneness. We read the script around the table the traditional way in Copenhagen in the company of all these wonderful actors who embraced me and I embraced them right back. They made me feel very comfortable. And as time went on, the writer, Anders Thomas Jensen, would add little scenes here or a little embellishment of dialogue and we set sail.

But the blueprint was more or less the same as when I first read the script. It was very simple and, yet, Susanne's style of direction is quite unique. The camera is constantly in motion.

How does the camera's constant motion impact your performance?

It gives you great freedom: liberation within the scene. I was with a group of actors who knew each other, had grown up with each other, and who make similar films. And with a director that loves the actors, loves the story and the complexity and the nuance of such a story as this, like all her films have, so much texture and work on many levels.

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Have you worked with female directors before?

Mm hmm, I did when I did the show "Remington Steele." I love working with women. So much of my career has been around leading ladies and playing romance. I think this is a fantastic film for women -- and men. It's a warm embrace of a movie.

Is it a date movie?

Without question, it's unabashedly romantic.

But unsentimental...

It's not sentimental because you're dealing with issues of sexuality. You're dealing with the deceits and conceits of jealousy. You're dealing with a man who is tangled up, mangled by his own grief and loss, and a woman who is dealing with breast cancer and fighting for her life.

Trine's character Ida has that moving moment when she's been skinny-dipping. Then, when she emerges from the water, your character sees her breast cancer scar for the first time.

Isn't that a glorious scene? Trine is someone who we should see more of, because she is such a magnificent actress. This is a calling card for her. She is such a powerful presence on screen. She has a femininity and vulnerability, and yet magnificent strength.

What's next for you?

I have a trifecta of films, this being the first. The next one is "Love Punch," with Emma Thompson. And then the one after that with Toni Collette and Aaron Paul is called "A Long Way Down."

And, next, I go to Belgrade to do a spy piece. My producing partner Beau St. Clair and I have I've been developing it for the last few years based on Bill Granger's novel, "The November Man." We finally got the script into shape and a director, Roger Donaldson…

So, for me, it's back to the spy genre. There's enough time and space between me and my past. If not now, when? It's that kind of attitude. But it's a wonderful piece with good characters, a good story and an older spy, younger spy dynamic

Have you cast the younger spy yet?

Yes. We have the man.

Is it Dominic Cooper? That would be full circle because he's playing Bond-creator Ian Fleming in a BBC America four-part miniseries.

I really don't want to say yet, because he should present it in the right way. So if we get it right -- which we will -- then it will be nice for him to go out there and, you know, we could do another one, who knows?

So there is sequel potential?

Yes. But the mantle would be passed to the younger spy. He would be the guy, because there's only so much you can do physically.

After throwing your body around for so long, you end up with back and knee problems. You become that lion in winter character. There comes a point where you just have to take the foot off the pedal.

See Pierce Brosnan in the theatrical trailer for 'Love Is All You Need':

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