Roger Donaldson talks ‘November Man’

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan arrives at the 76th Academy Awards
on Sunday, Feb. 29, 2004, in Los Angeles. (Photo
Courtesy of MCT/ABACA PRESS)

Although it’s been 12 years since Pierce Brosnan last appeared on screen as James Bond, his newest film is a more-than-welcome return to a genre with which the actor is already quite familiar. The former “Remington Steele” star plays the title character in director Roger Donaldson’s “The November Man.”

Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a former CIA operative who is forced back into the world of espionage and is pitted against is former pupil. Former Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”), Luke Bracey (“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”), and Will Patton (TNT’s “Falling Skies”) also star. The film, which is based on the seventh novel in a series of books by author Bill Granger, marks the second time Brosnan and Donaldson have worked together and the first since 1997’s “Dante’s Peak.”

“It was a great pleasure working with Pierce again,” Donaldson said. “He’s a very talented actor, a great friend, and he really brought a lot to this film.”

Brosnan’s production company, Irish DreamTime, which he co-founded with partner Beau St. Clair, first considered making an espionage film in 2008.

However, the two of them were hesitant to do so at risk of retreading previous material. When Executive Producer Dino Conte brought the Granger’s series to St. Clair, she optioned the rights to the seventh novel in the series. Screenwriters Michael Finch (2010’s “Predators”) and Karl Gajdusek (2013’s “Oblivion”) were brought on, and after nearly five years, the script was finished. It was then that Brosnan recommended Donaldson for the job.

“It’s an absolute honor to have been recommended by Pierce,” Donaldson said. “When I read the script, I knew that it would be great fun making the film.”

After reading the script, which was originally set to take place in Berlin, producers decided that Belgrade, Serbia would be a better shooting location. Donaldson said that the change was one for the better and that shooting there in fact made the film stronger.

“There’s so much rich history and landscapes there that I really wanted to bring out and explore,” Donaldson said. “And I’m really proud of the way it turned out. The color and landscape of the city was quite fun to explore, and I love that it allowed the city to speak for itself a little bit and sort of become a character in the film in its own right.”

No spy film is complete without its share of high-paced action sequences, and “The November Man” is no exception. Donaldson says that to him, the most important part of filming those things was making them feel authentic but still fun.

“I really wanted audiences to sit on the edge of their seats and be completely indulges in what’s happening on screen, but at the same time, I wanted things to feel real. When you see a shot from a drone’s perspective, we really shot that with a drone so it would be believable. We have shots where the cameraman was on the back of a speeding motorbike,” Donaldson said.

He’s also a believer in practical effects.

“Sure, you can add cars crashing and exploding digitally,” Donaldson said, “But I think that takes away from the authenticity of it. When you see a van explode on screen, we really blew-up a van.”

Adding to the authenticity, Donaldson says, is Brosnan’s outstanding ability to multi-task.

“A lot of actors have a hard time driving and acting,” Donaldson said. “But Pierce is incredible at it. I can’t remember the last time I saw an actor do that and it really made working with him in those scenes quite simple.”

Despite the fact that any spy role Brosnan takes on will surely be compared to his days as 007, Donaldson says that he is confident this film will allow the actor to put a new stamp on the genre.

“Devereaux is quite different than Bond,” Donaldson said. “He’s smart and isn’t trying to stop world devastation. He’s been around and is really trying to protect who he has to. He’s a spy for the modern age. “

“The November Man” opens Aug. 27.

 

Reach the reporter at seweinst@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @S_Weinstein95