Pierce Brosnan’s “The November Man” had been a movie long in the process until its premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Wednesday. It was on the radar for Brosnan and producing partner Beau St. Clair after Brosnan retired from his role of James Bond in 2005. Though originally scripted for Berlin, the film’s crew, alongside director Roger Donaldson, needed to scope out new locations to satisfy production costs.
Donaldson wanted to shoot in Belgrade, Serbia, as well as base the film’s script in Serbia, after his production crew recommended he visit. “We’ve seen Berlin a lot of times, but we’ve never seen Serbia in a commercial movie. So I was very enthusiastic about shooting it in Serbia,” Donaldson explained. “The Serbian people and the Serbian crew, nobody ever, ever complained about anything, they just worked their butts off.”
Brosnan, who described his lead character of Peter Devereaux as a “cultured badass, kind of sassy operative, loner,” discussed his excitement for doing action scenes with his friends on the Serbian set, many of whom worked with him on the “James Bond” franchise.
“We shot for real on the streets of Belgrade, Serbia, they were so great to us,” Brosnan said. “They gave us palaces and the government buildings. They let us run around in their city with guns and explosions and car chase sequences!”
Though Olga Kurylenko, who plays the mysterious Alice Fournier, enjoyed the exotic experience, she couldn’t help but complain about the setting, just a little. “It was summer, it was July, it was 40 degrees (Celsius), it was really hot,” Kurylenko said. “Otherwise, apart from that, it was really great. We shot a lot on streets, so basically in transport, tramways, cars everywhere, people moving. So it’s actually quite hectic, but we managed it very well.”
Variety’s Andrew Barker agreed with the decision to shoot in Serbia in his review, stating that the country was, “well-scouted and well-shot, with the film’s geographic specificity representing a nice change of pace from the often vague Eastern European settings employed in such films.”
The choice of Serbia eventually came to be loved by the cast and crew not only as a filming location, but also as a spot to vacation and travel.
Donaldson said he and his family would likely return to the country in the future. “My kids went to school there while we were making the movie. They actually wanted to go back there for a holiday, that’s how much they enjoyed it. They’ve got their Serbian friends they talk to on Skype now.”
Kurylenko, who had never been to Belgrade, took an interest in the local culture. “I’m always interested in the language, and I always try to see if I can understand. I was talking to people, and trying to understand what they were talking about. For me, I’m passionate about languages. It was great and the people were lovely.”
After the screening, the intimate afterparty for the filmmakers continued at Soho House. Relativity opens “The November Man” Aug. 27.