We talked many years ago about your photography – have you retained that same passion?
Yes. I love the visual arts. I started life as a 17-year-old guy who jumped out of school with nothing but a cardboard folder of drawings and paintings and wanted to be an artist, so photography has always been part of my life.
And your wife, Keely?
I think my wife’s a better photographer. She used to say that all the time, and now I know she is. Also, I still paint and painting has become more and more meaningful and significant in my life. I thought that was a lovely way to introduce the memory of Meryl in the movie. It has the song “SOS” and I was so pleased I didn’t have to sing it! I’m sure you were as well (laughs).
How was shooting Mamma Mia this time around?
Oh, it was out of the box great this time around! When I was offered role I immediately said “Yes!” I read the script and it really moved me. I thought there was a real texture to it and a sense of character and emotion.
Why do you think ABBA has remained so timeless?
I think the overall poetry and lyricism of their work and that they had their own love affair, these two men and two beautiful women, that’s what made it so enthralling and captivating. They had their loves and they had their losses within each other’s lives and that they wrote about it. I think that that’s what gives it the human touch.
Were you a fan of ABBA as a kid?
I watched the Eurovision song contest way back and I watched them win the contest, and I thought it was rather charming and novel and funny, this quartet of people. But I can’t say that I was an Abba fan.
What kind of music were you into?
I was into West Coast music. I was into Spirits and Bob Marley and I was into Van Morrison and Crosby, Stills and Nash and Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, of course.
What was it like working with the younger actors?
It was so endearing to see them and to feel their enthusiasm. Because as you get older, it’s not that you lose enthusiasm, it’s just that you’ve been around and you’ve seen so much and you’ve done it so many times that they give you…they invigorate you with just a passion and an energy for performance.
What kind of traveller are you?
I’m a good traveller, I travel well. I’ve been on the bus, back of the bus, top of the bus under the bus. I’ve been all around the bus. So it’s just an actor’s life. You’re up, you’re down, they like you, they half like you. I travel so much for my work as an actor, but home is Malibu and home is Kauai. It’s usually Kauai.
Do you have a favourite destination?
Kauai. That’s home. That’s where she [Keely] wants to go so wherever she wants to go I’m right beside her. That’s it.
What’s a perfect day for you?
Waking up in Kauai, about four in the morning, going out and watching the sun come up. I’m standing at my easel and I’m painting. I follow the course of the brush, the heart, the paint, and the hours drift by.
Has living on an island made you learn anything about yourself?
You have to like yourself. You have to know how to provide for yourself. I like the solitude. I’m a fairly solitary kind of person anyway, I suppose. I like the company of people don’t get me wrong, but I like a certain sense of solitude. Although I would like to know that the door is still open close by. I don’t want to be that alone. That would really make me insane. But yes, I never expected this in life. I never expected any of this really. I mean, I had dreams of it, but I didn’t expect it. And Kauai is just a haven of an island. We’ve been there 17 years now. I love the people and the countryside.
You’ve worked on countless movie sets. Is there a unifying trait amongst bad directors?
Oh, is there a unifying trait? (laughs). Yeah, they’re just bad directors. They don’t listen. They haven’t done their homework. They have too much ego! They don’t know how to have any humility and they don’t know how to share, but you stay away from those. But great directors create such an aura on the set. They create an atmosphere of work and focus and an energy of exhilaration.
What are you binge-watching at the moment?
I don’t really binge on any of it. Usually, I’ll just paint. Keely will read and she’ll work. It’s really simple and the boys have gotten older now so it really is that moment of just the two of us across the kitchen table. This is us. This is it, man.
Sounds like you have such an idyllic life. What does the end of the day look like at chez Brosnan?
Well, just as the sun is going down, Keely makes a great rum cocktail; we sit on the beach and have a rum cocktail, maybe another rum cocktail. Then she makes a great dinner. Then while she’s making dinner, maybe I’ll have another rum cocktail when she’s not looking. She’s really a great cook. And it’s just the two of us. We might watch a movie and see what’s on the TV. It’s really pretty simple, really.