LOS ANGELES - Former 007 star Pierce Brosnan returns to the world of guns and spies in "The November Man," an action thriller that pits his character against his former CIA bosses, with explosive effect.
The Irish actor, who has never hidden his desire to have played James Bond for a little longer, said he is still up to the action game despite his 61 years - although he had to work hard to get in shape.
"I like my beer, I like my wine," said the man who took on the role of Britain's most famous fictional spy in four Bond movies. "I have to keep up. Tennis, work out, work out, play tennis... I have had so many trainers." Shot in Belgrade, his latest movie - out Wednesday in the United States - includes all the classic action flick elements - car chases, traitors and beautiful women waiting to be saved (ex-Bond girl Olga Kurylenko).
"The November Man," which was co-produced by Brosnan and based on a series of novels by Bill Granger, tells the adventures of Peter Devereaux, a former CIA hitman brought out of retirement for one last mission.
His task: to extract a female spy, who just happens to be the mother of his daughter, from Moscow because she has evidence of sex crimes committed by a Russian presidential candidate.
Devereaux's former spy trainee, David Mason (Luke Bracey) is tasked in parallel with killing the former lover. Devereaux is devastated and vows vengeance against his former protege.
As the story threatens to blow up in the CIA's face, Mason is given the mission of killing his former mentor, whom he still respects and admires.
Like being an ambassador
Brosnan admits that playing a hard-living spy again after 12 years was tough. "There is a certain mileage on the bones, the heart and the soul," he told a small group of reporters.
"You have to work just as hard (in terms of training), but you don't have to try so hard" in terms of credibility, given his 007 fame, he added.
The imposing actor, who has deep blue eyes and still a star-power smile despite his years on the celebrity circuit, said training was tough.
"I have to do work. Nothing comes from nothing," he said, joking that he was "sick" of trainers, although he also had to train some of them in how to drink Guinness.
Said to have vowed to become an actor after seeing Sean Connery in "Goldfinger," Brosnan talks easily and openly about his time as Her Majesty's most famous spy.
"It is like being an ambassador to a small country. You have to hold it lightly, wear it with pride, surrender to it and not be trapped by any ego or fear," he said.
"If you give any resistance or any negative energy it will eat you up. You have to celebrate it, enjoy it, you saved the world four times!" Ukrainian-French actress Kurylenko, who hit the big time with 2008 Bond movie "Quantum of Solace" starring Brosnan's successor Daniel Craig, calls the Irish actor "lovely" and "charming." "He doesn't intimidate you, he's very approachable," she added.
Director Roger Donaldson, who had already worked with Brosnan on 1997's "Dante's Peak," added: "He's a smart, intelligent guy (who has) made the best of his fame." This included "not letting his fame destroy him like maybe Robin Williams did," he said, referring to the comedy icon's recent death by apparent suicide.
One of the challenges in making "The November Man" was to adapt the books to include modern technology, including cell phones, hacking and drones, the filmmaker added.
"The world of spying these days probably looks like Edward Snowden stories, people just intercepting phone calls and keeping track of each other," he said, referring to the US intelligence leaker.
"But blackmailing people, getting compromising pictures of them or getting them in compromising situations I'm sure is alive and well."