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Pierce Brosnan
"I thought Attenborough had fallen out of his rocker"
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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 15:34 GMT
Brosnan defends 'imperfect' Grey Owl
Pierce Brosnan and Richard Attenborough
Brosnan thought Attenborough had 'fallen out of his rocker'
By the BBC's Peter Bowes in Hollywood

Pierce Brosnan has accused Hollywood executives of being "lazy and lacking in imagination" over their decision not to release his latest movie, Grey Owl, in US in cinemas.

The film, which cost 20m, is the true story of an Englishman who hides his true identity to live the life of a Canadian Indian.

Archie - Grey Owl - Belaney was an animal trapper in the 1930s who eventually became a world renowned conservationist.

Grey Owl opens in UK cinemas on 3 November. In the US The film went straight to video after distributors said they did not know how to market the picture.

Peoples' sensitivities have been deadened and I think they've backed themselves into a corner in this town called Hollywood

Pierce Brosnan

Brosnan believes a blind eye was turned to the movie. He described as "a lot of bull" the explanation that executives could not come up with a strategy to sell the film to American audiences.

"It was made for the cinema, it should have been presented in theatres here in America," added Brosnan during an interview, recorded at his beach home in Malibu, for BBC 5 Live's Ian Payne Show.


The film's director, Lord Attenborough, has also criticised the decision.

He told BBC Radio 4's Front Row that Grey Owl was snubbed because it did not contain "violence or sex".

Brosnan agreed with the notion that Hollywood had little appetite for a story lacking in the presumed ingredients for commercial success.

Pierce Brosnan
Brosnan warmed to his character

"Peoples' sensitivities have been deadened and I think they've backed themselves into a corner in this town called Hollywood," he said.

He added: "The movie-makers have found themselves up against a wall and don't know how to get out of it because the ante has just gone up and up on the issue of violence and more sex."

Brosnan acknowledged that Grey Owl was not a perfect movie.

"It has flaws, of course," he said. But he believed the film was "head and shoulders above" the quality of many other movies currently coming out of Hollywood.

The James Bond star admitted he was perplexed when Lord Attenborough first gave him a copy of the script for Grey Owl.

"I thought: 'He's fallen out of his rocker. What on earth is he doing, sending me a script about an Indian, what is going on here?'"

He said he gradually warmed to the story as he understood more about the character - a complicated man who grew up in Hastings in a cloistered, repressed, Victorian home.

He was a man who dreamt of being an Indian and who ultimately became one.


The question of violence in movies has been hotly debated in recent months with Washington politicians wading in on the issue.

When I was younger, I loved the violence, loved the perversity of it all and the sheer bravado of it. But you realise you have a responsibility

Pierce Brosnan

"I think it's good that Hollywood is being hauled over the coals," said Brosnan.

"Not that I want to see creative censorship, but I think there has to be an awareness on the part of film-makers that there is so much violence in our society," he added.

The actor, who is set to make his fourth outing as the suave British agent, 007, in 2002, said he considered the violence in a Bond movie to be tame. "The blood is not real," he said.

But, he added: "When I was younger I loved the violence, loved the perversity of it all and the sheer bravado of it. But you realise you have a responsibility."

Brosnan with co-star Annie Galipeau
Brosnan with co-star Annie Galipeau

Brosnan's sense of responsibility extends to the subject matter of Grey Owl.

His character was said to be one of the world's first environmentalists - travelling the globe preaching about caring for the wilderness and animals.

A keen observer of nature, Brosnan paused several times during our conversation to watch dolphins frolicking in the Pacific Ocean.

"We cannot ignore and turn a blind eye to the environment that we live in," he said.

"For me it's a concern and it's a worry and you stand up there and you lend your name to certain causes - or in this case, Grey Owl, you make a movie," he said.

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See also:

20 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Attenborough slams Hollywood
30 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Bond's box office haul
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