LOS ANGELES — Even at 61, Pierce Brosnan looks like he could slip into a perfectly tailored suit, hide a Walter PPK under his jacket and captivate any woman while sipping a martini (shaken, not stirred). But his days of playing James Bond ended more than a dozen years ago with "Die Another Day."
Brosnan may have found another spy franchise to keep him busy. He plays a hardened ex-CIA operative in "The November Man," the film adaptation of the Bill Granger spy novel series. Granger's main character, Peter Devereaux, is James Bond meets Dirty Harry: a killing machine who also can show deep signs of humanity. Brosnan describes the character as a "cultured bad-ass" who has a "workman-like attitude" toward his profession.
"He's a man who has been somewhat manipulated by his seniors. He's a man who has found a peace in his life and is living a very simple life for his daughter. And yet, he's brutal and savage in his execution of what has to be done," Brosnan says. "He's a working operative. There are no bells or whistles or gadgets."
Brosnan started working on adapting Granger's books to the big screen more than a decade ago. One of the things that Brosnan wanted to do while playing Bond was to do more of an exploration of what made the spy tick. When that didn't happen in the four films he starred in with the Bond franchise, he began to search for another project where he could play a flawed hero.
He found that character in Granger's Peter Devereaux.
"After my four outings as James Bond, there seemed to be unfinished business," Brosnan says. "The writing of Bill Granger had a complexity of character and a punch and grit to it, which gave me the opportunity to take the gloves off and be hard as nails and be ambivalent in my moral values as a character."
It was also a chance for Brosnan to return to the kind of big stunts he had done when he was Bond. He laughs, saying the big difference between now and then is that he needed a little more epsom salts in the bath at the end of the day and a couple more martinis.
There are 12 books in "The November Man" series and Brosnan would love to turn the single film into a franchise that could eclipse his days as Bond, where he played the British spy in "Goldeneye," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "The World is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day."
Since ending his Bond days, Brosnan has made a wide variety of films from the musical "Mama Mia!" to the black comedy "The World's End."
Brosnan knows the shadow of 007 will follow him the rest of his career.
"Bond was so big and mighty in my career that it's the gift that just keeps on giving," he says. "I wouldn't be here today talking about 'The November Man' if it hadn't been for James Bond."
His only regret about being involved in another spy film: "I probably wish I had picked up the gun sooner."