In the new AMC series The Son, the former 007 swaps martinis and an Aston Martin for some whiskey and a horse
James bond. Remington steele. Thomas Crown. Pierce Brosnan has made a career of playing suave leading men. This month, he trades British wit for Texas grit in the Old West family saga The Son (April 8). The series, based on the Philipp Meyer novel, centers on the rise of Brosnan’s Eli McCullough from young pioneer to ruthless oil tycoon. Here, the 63-year-old actor discusses busting genres and beating the Texas heat.
You were in a few Westerns. Why did you want to do another one?
I’ve been an actor for many years. I’ve never considered myself playing within genres. You certainly get typecast, and I’ve lent a hand to that typecasting because it pays the rent and has provided me a career. The Western genre has always appealed to me, growing up on the banks of the River Boyne in Southern Ireland on a diet of cowboys and Indians at the local picture house.
This is a return to TV for you, too. Why did you want to come back?
I thought I was going off to Russia to make a movie, and it fell apart. I told my agent I didn’t want to sit on my bum in Malibu. I want to work. I like to work. He told me I’d been offered this series. I read five episodes of it in an afternoon, met with AMC and the deal was done by the end of the day. Before I knew it, I found myself on a horse in 104-degree heat in the Texas summer.
You filmed in Texas near Austin. Did that help with the authenticity?
I have a deep place in my heart for Austin because of the hospitality of the people. Being a Celt playing a man named McCullough, there was a strong identification there. It’s palpable because the ancestors of these people were Scots and Irish. It was also just bloody hot.
You keep mentioning the heat. How did you cope with it?
I drank coconut water—a lot of coconut water.
How did you hone your accent?
I listened to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Rick Perry—you name it. I put the headphones on and studied those accents when I was walking the beach, taking the dog on a hike, riding my bike, paddle boarding. There was a wonderful senator I listened to, Ted Poe. I don’t know why. I liked the sound of his voice.
You grew an incredible beard for this role. Is it your best beard yet?
Oh, dear. “The envelope, please, for best beard acting goes to … Brosnan!” The beard becomes more pronounced because I let it grow over the 10 episodes. As the season goes on, the beard becomes more of a character.