7 Questions With... The Son's Eli McCullough and James Bond legend Pierce Brosnan
The 007 star talks exclusively to BT TV about doubts, fatherhood and The Son.
Pierce Brosnan’s return to the small screen has seen him taking the gun-slinging lead in AMC’s epic ranching drama The Son.
Based on Philip Meyer’s critically-acclaimed 2013 book, The Son is a multi-generational saga about the birth of America and the rise and fall of the McCulloughs, a Texas ranching and oil family of which Brosnan plays the patriarch Eli.
The second season, which is exclusive to BT customers and began in May 2019 - continued to swing between the Comaches of 1851 - the native American tribe of which the adopted Eli is now a respected warrior - and early 20th century Texas.
***Spoilers for season one ahead***
After several near-death experiences and shoot-outs in season one, the follow up shows a deeper insight into Eli who was seen wrangling with a threatening business interest that could jeopardise the family and legacy he has fought so hard to maintain.
Season 2 welcomed Broadway and film star Lois Smith, who recently starred in the Bafta-nominated Lady Bird, as an older Jeanne McCullough – the granddaughter of Brosnan’s Eli.
The new episodes will follow Jeanne in 1988, as the 85-year-old heir at the helm of the McCullough family oil empire that she herself helped to discover as a fearless and incisive young girl.
BT TV joined Brosnan during filming in Austin, Texas - on the set of American drama - where he revealed some clues about the new season, opened up about fatherhood and confessed how even a former James Bond can have doubts.
1. Eli experienced a near-death experience in season 1 - does that change his character in season 2?
I think Eli is always dealing with near-death experiences so he’s consistently in tune with that feeling that lurks dark in any man’s heart. This season, it goes even darker into the aspects of his life as father, as a man who is trying to hold this family together and think ahead into the future, so he deals with the malevolence of death and dying constantly.
2. Have you grown close to the character of Eli?
There’s a lot of miles under the belt in my own years as a man as an actor, as a father, I’ve dealt with various traumas in life, tragedies in life. Eli and I seem to have a kinship to each other - I’m very fond of the character and I enjoy playing him.
This is the second season, and we’re coming to the end of the second season and it has a certain emotionality for me as a father with four sons.
I identify strongly with Eli. I know what it’s like to be an outsider. I know what it’s like to be an immigrant. I know what it’s like to be a survivor.
3. What made you want to go back to TV after so many years?
I had been looking for four years prior… just because of the nature of the business now, you have to go where the work is and the best work is really in the landscape of TV.
The networks - especially the cable networks like AMC and many others - they just develop such good material for actors. The film world is tough. It’s always been tough but it’s tougher now. You go where the work is, always have done.
4. What are your favourite TV shows today?
I don’t particularly watch a lot of TV - House of Cards, Game of Thrones, I haven’t seen those in ages. I read about it, I hear about it. I’d rather stand in my studio for six hours, look at a canvas and paint something rather than watch something.
5. Did your experience as Bond help with the gun scenes? Did you have any preparation for the show?
I knew how to ride, I know something about guns, the rest is all just pretending - just act like you know what you’re doing. There was a time where I used to live in Malibu in the mountains, where I used to ride all the time. And I had a few horses.
But coming to Eli, TV is fast, so you have to come really prepared, whether it’s riding a horse or playing the scenes, because it goes like a freight train. Luckily, within the storyline, we’ve moved into the automotive age and I’m driving a car.
Get a good hat, good horse, good-looking gun, grow a beard - you’re off to the races!
6. How did being a father inform you for this role?
Having sons is hard, having sons is very tricky. And very rewarding. There’s a lot there within Eli that I feel very close to - I love his violent nature, his passion, his heart and soul. Very Irish, in many respects. And I look to those roots of mine that are Irish, the people I have known and was brought up by… the spiritual side of his nature
7. Do you still encounter doubts in your career?
Oh yes - some days, it’s just terrifying, it’s just hard to do, because it’s like a freight train and TV devours and eats everything up. So you have to understand how to do that.
If you care about it and want to do it and want to be good and want to move forward, you’re going to bump into all of these frailties of your psyche... you have to go back to the nuts and bolts of your craft.
There are challenges every day - you can come to scenes which are quite elaborate and have many layers to it. You can be fine and then you come to one little scene which can be tight and small but transitional in its embroidery… every day is a challenge.
The Son starring Pierce Brosnan is exclusive to BT customers.