Irish-born actor Pierce Brosnan has tangled with a lot of diabolical villains as super agent 007, but the James Bond star finally meets his match in Julianne Moore in the romantic comedy “Laws of Attraction.”
They play rival high-powered divorce lawyers who reluctantly, awkwardly fall for each other amid the messy, matrimonial carnage of their opposing clients.
The film, a light-hearted confection from director Peter Howitt (“Sliding Doors”), marks a change of pace for both performers. Moore is best known for her dramatic roles, receiving two Oscar nominations for her work in “Far From Heaven” and “The Hours.”
But it’s an even bigger leap for Brosnan, who sprang to fame as the cool, charming sleuth in the 1980s TV drama “Remington Steele” and has built on that persona in such films as “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “The Tailor of Panama” and the last four Bond films.
Perhaps sensing he can’t play the tuxedo-wearing spy with a license to kill forever, Brosnan said he has been looking to shift gears.
“I’ve wanted to do this kind of movie for a long time, I’ve wanted to make a romantic comedy,” he said. “As an actor, it allows you to show a certain vulnerability to yourself because to play a comedy I think you have to be able to laugh at yourself.”
He then confides, with mock earnestness, “I wish I were James Bond, but I’m not. I’m an actor.”
Moore, feigning surprise seated next to Brosnan on a sofa, chimes in with a laugh, “What a horrible shock! Too bad.”
Seemingly embarrassed now, Brosnan trails off, “Anyway, I don’t know how to explain it. I had a great time. It was a wonderful summer.”
Trading a gun for a briefcaseIn “Laws of Attraction,” Brosnan trades in his gun for a briefcase to assume the role of Daniel Rafferty, a high-priced Manhattan divorce lawyer who is as clever as he is casual — a study of contrasts with his leading rival, the brilliant but reserved legal beagle Audrey Miller (Moore).
The pair find themselves on opposite sides of several cases as their mutual attraction gradually, grudgingly grows before they are thrown together in the Irish countryside to obtain depositions in a high-profile divorce between two famous clients (Parker Posey and Michael Sheen).
After a night of heavy drinking, they wake up married and must return to New York City to face each other in court as opposing counsels who happen to be man and wife.
“I love that this fellow is like an unmade bed and didn’t work out ... and for me hopefully there is something there the audience hasn’t seen before,” Brosnan said.
But like Cary Grant, who managed to remain debonair even when running through a corn field chased by a low-flying plane, Brosnan’s trademark elegance shines through the rumpled sport coat and shaggy hair.
“I can’t wait to grow up and become a character actor. Enough of this leading-man role stuff. ... Oh, what performances I shall give then,” he said.
Brosnan, who served as an executive producer on the film, said he was inspired by the sharp, dialogue-driven comedies of yore, especially “Adam’s Rib,” the 1949 film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as married lawyers on opposite sides of an attempted murder case in which a woman is accused of trying to killer her philandering husband.
For Moore, a major appeal of doing a romantic comedy is the universality of the experience. “A lot of us don’t get to be superheroes like James Bond. We don’t necessarily bore into the center of the Earth or go into space,” she said.
“But we do generally meet someone, fall in love with them and possibly marry them. That’s something we all come into contact with.”