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The New Adventures of Pierce Brosnan : Actor Is Back on Track With USA Network's 'Death Train'

April 11, 1993|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pierce Brosnan describes his latest TV movie, "Alistair MacLean's Death Train," airing Wednesday on the USA Network, as "down and dirty."

"It's a very kind of macho time," Brosnan, 39, explains over breakfast in a Santa Monica restaurant. "It's 'Boy's Own Adventure.' It's everything I've wanted to do--run along the top of trains, shoot guns and climb in and out of helicopters. I did all of it."

In the action-packed "Death Train," the dark, handsome Irish actor plays Mike Graham, a world-class weapons expert and member of a United Nations anti-terrorist squad. His latest assignment is to stop a hijacked train armed with a nuclear bomb that is traveling through Europe en route to Iraq.

"Death Train" was the first production filmed in the newly independent states of Slovenia and Croatia since the outbreak of war in the former Yugoslavia. It was also Brosnan's first project since the death of his 39-year-old wife, Cassandra Harris, from ovarian cancer in December, 1991.

"I took my son (9-year-old Sean) with me," says Brosnan, who came to fame as the suave Remington Steele on the 1982-87 NBC series of the same name.

"I got a tutor and a nanny and we hit the road. It's just what I needed at that time in my life."

Because of the unstable conditions in Croatia and Slovenia, though, Brosnan initially was worried about traveling there.

"The night I left here was the night the riots started in L.A.," he says, pouring maple syrup over his pancakes. "Everybody was saying, 'Why are you going to Croatia to make a movie?' It seemed like a cool place to be when I switched on the TV in London the next day (after the riots) and watched what happened here."

Brosnan, who lost the opportunity in the '80s to be cinema's next James Bond because of contractual obligations to "Remington Steele," says he certainly felt the presence of war.

But, Brosnan adds, there was "a heightened exhilaration in a lot of ways because the hotel we were staying in was overrun by soldiers. The combat outfits that we wore were just like the Croatian army, which seems to be a hodgepodge of uniforms. At times, going to work was like going to the front because it was very tough (to shoot)."

Especially tough was a pivotal sequence in which the anti-terrorist squad captures the train inside a tunnel.

"The sequence went on for four days," Brosnan says. "I tell you, tempers frayed and it takes a lot for me to kind of lose it."

Conditions were unbearable in the mile-long tunnel.

"They would crank up the (diesel) engine and you would see this smoke billow up and roll down the walls," he explains. "Everybody was suffocating. The base camp was at the mouth of the tunnel, and at the mouth was a quarry where they were mining. So here there was this white film of dust and noise constantly."

If "Death Train" is popular, USA may make more adventures featuring Brosnan as Mike Graham.

"In the Alistair MacLean estate there are about five stories which are basically outlines," he says. "This is one of them and it was made into a book. They are talking about a second one."

Brosnan will be seen on the small screen later this year in the TNT movie "The Broken Chain," which examines the Iroquois Confederacy.

"I play Sir William Johnson, who is an emissary to King George II," he says. "He was very much affected by the Iroquois nation and worked hard for their well-being. He was an Irishman, very flamboyant, married to an Indian woman and was quite a ladies' man. I had a grand time doing it--playing an Irishman."

He's also been working out "constantly" in preparation for the upcoming feature "Lawnmower Man II," the sequel to last year's successful sci-fi thriller.

"Would you like some more coffee?," the waitress asks Brosnan.

"I think yes," Brosnan says. "Why not? I have to go play golf after this."

Brosnan starts laughing. "An actor's life, eh?"

This actor just recently took up the sport. "I am just (playing) with a coach at the moment," he says. "I have been at it the last five weeks. I just kind of got bitten. Don't ask me why. It is a guy thing. There is some wonderful feeling (I get) hitting that ball."

But he won't be able to swing a club for a while. Brosnan's got to be in San Francisco to film the new Robin Williams-Sally Field movie "Mrs. Doubt Fire."

"I play Sally's old flame," he says. "It's great stuff. You go up for jobs like any actor. You read and you audition. No matter how far up the ladder you get, someone always wants to see you.

"I don't plan things," Brosnan says. "You don't plan things. You never plan anything. You try to jockey. I tried to orchestrate this year. I knew I was going to do 'Lawnmower Man II' and I was talking to someone about doing a series, about doing a half-hour show. That was the plan. Now, I am off to San Francisco, which is serendipitous in a way."

Especially since he won't be far from home and Sean. "His brother (Christopher, 20) is at home at the moment, but his brother is a young man who wants to go to film school," Brosnan says.

"So he is going off to South America to make a short movie and trying to use that as an entry into the (American Film Institute). My daughter (Charlotte, 21) is back in London, so that just leaves the little guy and the nanny. I try to stay close to home as much as possible."

"Alistair MacLean's Death Train' airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on USA; it repeats April 18 and 24; repeats of "Remington Steele" air weeknights at midnight on KABC.

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