First published in The Incredible Suit blog
Until yesterday, I'd never met a James Bond. I'd met a Tracy Bond, which was nice, but not quite the same. Somehow, of the six actors who've played the character that I've become unhealthily fixated on for the last *cough*ty years, none have ever crossed my path.
Yesterday, though, I met James The Fifth: Pierce Brosnan, and it was possibly one of the most exciting things that's ever happened to anyone anywhere. I realise that some people meet film stars all the time, and some people never meet any, so how relevant or interesting the rest of this post is to you is out of my control. In all honesty I'm writing it more for myself so that when I'm a hundred and seventeen years old I can look back at this and think: "That was a good day. Also, where did this massive pool of piss come from?"
On approaching the area it was clear that this was a fairly relaxed location shoot: all those guys with puffa jackets and clipboards and rolls of gaffer tape hanging off their belts were there, but I could happily walk through them all without hindrance. Then I noticed a crowd of people on some steps, all taking photos of someone or something I couldn't quite see. My detective skills led me to suspect that this could well be where I might find The Broz.
I rounded a large man in a paramedic's uniform (detective's analysis: he was either a paramedic or an actor dressed as a paramedic), and there he was. Pierce Brosnan was sat in a chair six feet from me, next to a man I didn't recognise. I assumed he was the director. I was wrong, but more on that later. They were deeply interested in the other man's phone, oblivious to the amateur paparazzi, so I took the chance to crack off a few action shots:
After a while the other man's phone must have lost its attraction, because both men stood up and sauntered through the crowd of amazed onlookers and into the café. In case you find this difficult to believe, here's a shot of Pierce Brosnan standing up.
Option 1. Go back to work with my photos of Pierce Brosnan and a strange man and feel quite pleased with myself.
Option 2. Take a deep breath, walk into the café and attempt contact with James Flipping Bond.I chose Option 2, because 117-year-old me would never have forgiven me if I hadn't.
Mildly terrified, I stepped into the café. It was tiny. There were about eight people in there and it was full. But there, right in front of me, looking straight at me, was six foot two of fifty-nine-year-old Irishman in a long black overcoat, dark blue jeans and a blue silk scarf round his neck. As handsome as ever, his blue gimlet eyes twinkled in the depressing fluorescent light of a London snack stop. It was all I could do not to run at him in slow motion and hug him, thanking him for the good times and politely ignoring Die Another Day.
With herculean willpower I resisted that temptation, and instead plumped for the second thing that came into my head, after "FFFUUUUUUUUUU":
"Hello", I said, and thrust my hand out.
"Hello", PIERCE BROSNAN said, to ME, and SHOOK MY HAND. He smiled the smile of a man who doesn't know if he's just met a script supervisor or an assassin.
"I just wanted to say hello", I continued, which was a lie. I wanted so much more. I decided to explain why I was harrassing him when he was just trying to get a latte. "I'm a massive Bond fan", I said, knowing full well that he couldn't care less. It's no secret that while he's grateful for what Bond did for him, he left the series under a cloud and would probably much rather someone approached him and said "I'm a massive Grey Owl fan. Your portrayal of the Canadian fur trapper turned conservationist was inspirational. I'll leave you alone now."
This actually exists
But leave him alone I did not. Also I've never seen Grey Owl. He looked into the distance, perhaps wistfully, perhaps wondering why his coffee was taking so bloody long, and said: "Ah, yes. They are good, aren't they", in much the same way that you or I might talk about washing machines.
He turned to look at me again, probably wondering how much longer this torture would end, and it was at this point that I completely lost my shit. I honestly believed I was above embarrassing myself in front of celebrities, but that turned out not to be the case. Totally involuntarily, the words "Sorry, I'm just so excited" tumbled out of my face like fizzy froth spurting out of a shaken lemonade bottle, and I actually clamped my hand over my mouth before any more inane cockwaffle spilled out.
Despite all the justification for doing so, Pierce Brosnan did not run away. He merely eyed me with a small amount of sympathy and waited for my next ejaculation. I gathered myself and asked him what he was working on.
"It's a Nick Hornby film called A Long Way Down", he said. This triggered something in my mind so, in an attempt to prolong the life of this clinically dead conversation, I replied: "Oh yeah, I read something about that this morning... somebody's just been cast... a woman?" I had literally no idea what I was talking about. I'd actually seen a press release on Monday announcing the start of principal photography on A Long Way Down, but it said nothing about anyone being recently cast. I was babbling.
"Sorry?", Brosnan enquired, correctly ascertaining that I was beginning to collapse from the inside out. "Uh... I read that, er... a lady had been cast in it. Quite recently", I wittered. Jesus Christ.
At this point Brosnan, mercifully, decided to engage PR mode, and began to reel off the cast members who had, no doubt, been tied down for some time. "Yeah, we've got Sam Neill, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette...", he explained. I mumbled some vague interested noises while the small part of my brain that still functioned slowly realised that the moustachioed phone-wielding man Brosnan had been sat with was in fact DOCTOR ALAN GRANT OFF OF JURASSIC PARK. Under normal circumstances I would have gone and pestered him too, but these were not normal circumstances. I had a mission to accomplish. I wanted photographic evidence that I had met James Bond, as further proof to my elderly future self.
"Have you got a second for a quick photo?", I asked, and the fluorescent lights of the café were suddenly extinguished by a cloud the colour of Guinness. Pierce Brosnan did not answer. He looked at me with an expression that conveyed exactly how much he wanted to have his photo taken: not at all. But he didn't say no, and I'd come this far. I wasn't about to give up, and he could see it in my manic, goggling eyes and beetroot-red cheeks. "Go on then," he said, with all the enthusiasm he might have used if I was a dentist about to remove all his teeth.
I attempted to take a photo of the two of us myself, with my phone. The task was complicated by the fact that pointing the phone at myself meant I couldn't see where to press, not to mention that my hands were shaking like one of those paint-mixing machines in B&Q. None of this escaped Brosnan's notice. "Good luck", he said, with no small amount of pity.
The photo didn't work. This was excruciating. As thrilled as I was to be in Pierce Brosnan's presence, I had pissed him off and wanted nothing more than to leave him alone with his latte and his paleontologist chum. But I was determined, running on adrenaline and vaguely aware that I had personally contributed quite heavily to Brosnan's fame and fortune, so by crikey I was going to get this goddamn photograph.
I nervously explained to Brosnan that the attempt had failed and asked if he wouldn't mind if I got someone else to take it. Again, that look. Time - and his patience - were running out. But again, he acquiesced. I grabbed a nearby crew member and asked him to take the photo, which he did with minimal fuss, thank Christ. "There you go", said Pierce Brosnan. "Thank you very much," I replied, as he started to sidle away. "I appreciate your time". For some reason I gave him a friendly pat on the upper arm as he left, like we were brothers or something. He mumbled some words as he wandered away which could equally have been "You're welcome" or "You'll be hearing from my lawyers". I didn't care. I had the photo. I'd met James Bond. And he was almost as excited as I was.