The first thing secret agents learn at spy school is how to hide feelings. Let your adversaries know only what you want them to know. These days, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig -- aka "Old Bond" and "New Bond" -- are putting their psychological cloak-and-dagger training to the test.
Brosnan is promoting "The Matador," a quirky comedy with Greg Kinnear, in which he plays a washed-up hit man on the brink of a mental breakdown. Brosnan laughs at how big a jump this take on international espionage is from his former days as Agent 007. But he's still not so eager to talk about his replacement and offers no advice to the new man with the golden gun.
"I didn't seek advice from any man before me, and I don't give any advice to any man after me. He'll find his own way," Brosnan said of Craig, the 37-year-old blond who will inherit the super spy role next year in a remake of "Casino Royale."
"He'll find his own way. He's a wonderful actor. I wish him all the happiness and success."
The 52-year-old Brosnan is a lot more diplomatic now than he was in December, when he launched into a tirade, both shaken and stirred by the way Bond producers tossed him from his Aston Martin.
"It's bloody frustrating that the [expletive] pulled the rug when they did," the Irish actor told Playboy magazine.
"It was like, 'Come on, we're family here. You talk about being a family. You know my late wife; you know my family now. Yet I get a call from my agents at five in the afternoon in the Bahamas, and I hear that you've shut down negotiations because you don't know how, where or which way to go and that you'll call me next Friday?' What can I say? It's cold, it's juvenile, and it shouldn't be done like that, not after 10 years and four films."
With an eye on snapping up some awards, both "The Matador" and "Munich" opened at a few select theaters in the final days of the year, and both have secured a handful of Golden Globe nominations. "Munich" was No. 9 at the box office last weekend, and "Matador" goes into wider release later this month.
It's perhaps a bit ironic that both actors are now playing assassins, but the two performances are in no way comparable. What Craig and Brosnan do share, however, is a tie to one of the greatest characters in Hollywood history. It's a role that comes with instant fame. Once you're a Bond, you're world famous. But it's also a mixed blessing. Once you're a Bond, it's hard to be anything else.
Even Sean Connery, the most famous of the six 007s, has struggled mightily to resist being typecast. After filming such classics as "From Russia, With Love," "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball" in the mid-1960s, he handed the role over to George Lazenby, the star of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
Declaring himself a major star, Lazenby announced that this would be his only Bond film, even before the film hit theaters. He was subsequently featured in the daytime soap opera "General Hospital," along with a few TV movies and commercials, and now might regret having made that decision.
In the early 1970s, Connery returned to Bond with "Diamonds Are Forever," and promised his wife he would never do another Bond film. In the mid-1980s, however, he came back for one more spin in the Aston Martin with the appropriately titled "Never Say Never Again."