Pierce Brosnan as Julian Noble, tired hedonistic hitman and “magnificent cold moron”
Mexico City, Spring 2004
Film: The Matador
Release Date: December 30, 2005
Director: Richard Shepard
Costume Designer: Catherine Marie Thomas
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
After this week’s 00-7th of the month post featured the reigning James Bond wearing a light brown suede zip-up jacket, I wanted to address a different way of approaching that look from Daniel Craig’s predecessor. The Matador starred Pierce Brosnan in one of his first post-Bond roles, inverting his own suave screen image by portraying a chain-smoking, nail-painting assassin “soiling” his way through life. (And thank you to BAMF Style readers Ryan and R.M. for long ago suggesting this film for a post!)
Indeed, the porn-stached and ill-mannered killer Julian Noble shares little in common with 007 aside from his dangerous profession and a penchant for drinking. There seemed to be an ongoing campaign after Brosnan found success as Bond where filmmakers asked themselves “how debauched and despicable can we make Pierce Brosnan’s character while still making it impossible to root against him?” leading to his welcome turns in movies like The Tailor of Panama (2001), After the Sunset (2004), and The Matador (2005), playing crude, cheeky criminals drinking, smoking, and womanizing their way through the tropics.
Julian’s career keeps him on the move, including a job in Mexico City where his handler reminds him that it’s his birthday (evidently born on March 20, Julian Noble shares his special day with Carl Reiner, Fred Rogers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Chester Bennington.) After completing the hit, Julian celebrates by way of progressive drunkenness in his hotel room, but there isn’t enough tequila in Mexico—nor enough lock pickers, disguise artists, or prostitutes in his little black book—to make him feel any less alone as he rings in another year around the globe. Thus, our friendless “facilitator of fatalities” takes his troubles to the hotel bar and one of several margaritas to follow, making the acquaintance of traveling businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), a modest and mild-mannered family man who couldn’t be more drifferent than his debauched drinking companion.
One too many genital jokes—including a very ill-timed quip regarding a “fifteen-inch schlong”—sends Danny into quick retreat. Julian makes amends the following day via profuse apologies and tickets to a bullfight, where he unburdens himself by letting a disbelieving Danny in on the secret of his life’s work (“I’m not psychotic, Danny… psychopathic, maybe, but not psychotic!”) and even a demonstration in how he gets the job done:
I’m a big fan of the “gotta pee” theory of assassinations…
What’d He Wear?
We meet Julian Noble as he awakens beside a prostitute in his Denver hotel room, inspired by her colorful toe polish to put off his gruesome task for the day by spending the morning painting his own little piggies. After peeling off a few well-earned Benjamins for the young woman, he collects himself and leaves the room to wire a target’s car to explode.
Julian wears a black ripple-textured “popover” shirt with a long, narrow placket of tiny buttons, as well as black trousers and presumably black belt. Thee all-black underpinnings are typical of movie assassin wardrobes, though Julian Noble quickly illustrates that he’s far from typical by breaking up the look with a burnt orange suede jacket that’s established as one of his signature style pieces.
As opposed to more subdued rust or tobacco tones of brown suede, the burnt orange is hardly the kind of jacket that would fail to attract attention if our hitman hopes to blend in with the crowd, though we get the sense that “blending in” isn’t exactly Julian Noble’s modus operandi.
A Premiere Props auction listing confirms that the orange goatskin suede jacket, size 44, was made by Hugo Boss.
Like most leathers, suede isn’t typically ideal for layering in warmer weather, though a lighter-weight material like Julian wears could be comfortable in Mexico City’s daily mean temperature around 65°F that the city experiences in March (per Wikipedia). The roomy jacket extends just slightly longer than his waist, no doubt a practical layer should Julian need to carry a sidearm for one of his deadly jobs.
Julian would be further comforted by the ventilated underarms, as four metal grommets under each armpit ease the airflow. These underarm vent sections are set apart by the same contrast top-stitching present on all edges as well as down the sleeves and across the front and back, where they’re used to designate details like horizontal front and back yokes and a placket effect flanking the zip-up front.
Apropos the shirt-jacket (“shacket”) lightness and structure, the jacket has a shirt-style collar that lays flat. The set-in sleeves are undecorated aside from the aforementioned stitching that connects to the back yoke and runs down the length of the sleeve to the plain-finished cuffs, which are similarly contrast-stitched around the openings but otherwise left unadorned by button, snap, or zip. In addition to at least one concealed breast pocket on the inside of the jacket, there are two hand pockets on the outside, contrast-stitched on each side of the vertical opening with small rivets at the top and bottom.
Julian brings the jacket with him to Mexico, though he abandons the dark shirt and trousers in the Mile-High City and adopts a more colorful, summery wardrobe appropriate for the warmer environs. Details about his striped shirt and trousers have been confirmed by an auction listing on Nate D. Sanders, where both pieces sold for more than $1,000 in May 2013. (The other shirt that Julian wears in Mexico is similarly colored but patterned like snakeskin; this will likely receive its own future post as he doesn’t wear it with the suede jacket.)
The short-sleeved shirt, made by Kenneth Cole, is patterned in an unbalanced stripe pattern that repeats from wider mottled red and tan stripes, then thinner blue and red stripes, all against a white ground. (The unique stripe can be seen in close-up here.) Though the shirt is a size XL, certain aspects of the fit still look undersized on Brosnan like those mid-bicep short sleeves that secure with a single-button closure around the bands, suggesting more of a fashion-oriented shirt than a classic summer sports shirt.
The shirt has five mixed brown plastic buttons up the plain front, the highest button at mid-chest before breaking away into an open V-neck with a flat two-piece collar that lacks the notch of a classic camp collar (also known as a “resort” or “revere” collar) and lacks the elegant roll of a traditional one-piece “Lido” collar. The shirt also has a breast pocket and a straight hem, meant to be worn untucked as Julian wears it.
Months pass between Julian and Danny’s interactions until the lonely hitman shows up at the Wright family homestead around Christmas, having flown straight from Budapest after learning that his inability to complete the last job has landed him in danger. Though his leather car coat and its supporting layers are appropriate for a Colorado winter, Julian enlists Danny for the proverbial “one last job” that takes the duo to a race track in Tucson.
Though it won’t be a very cool yule for his target, Julian appropriately dresses for the holiday season in his brick red knit V-neck sweater, detailed with narrow, reverse-facing pleats down the front center and short raglan sleeves, with ribbed bands above the elbows that mimic the tight ribbing around the neckline. The Premiere Props auction listing for the jacket, shirt, and trousers confirms that this is another Kenneth Cole item, size large.
Julian’s favorite trousers in warmer cities like Mexico City or Tucson are light stone gray-colored flat front pants by Prada, finished with plain-hemmed bottoms. These have an integrated elastic belt striped in slate, beige, and burgundy, as well as a zip-closed back right pocket in addition to the side pockets.
At least two pairs of these trousers were used during the production, with one pair sized 34 (likely U.S.) auctioned with the Kenneth Cole striped shirt from Mexico City and another pair sized 52 (likely Italian) auctioned with the brick red Kenneth Cole short-sleeved V-neck worn in Tucson.
According to IMDB, Pierce Brosnan credited his work with costume designer Cat Thomas as instrumental to building the character of Julian Noble, starting from the ground up when “she found these Italian retro sixties zip up Chelsea boots, and that gave me the walk.”
The zippers that open and close along the inside of each boot upper means they’re not truly made in the Chelsea boot tradition, but these dark burnished burgundy leather cap-toe ankle boots still have a serious retro vibe. Thanks again to Premiere Props, we know that Julian’s boots were made by Gianni Barbato, size 43.5 (roughly 9½ U.S. or 8½ U.K.) with 1¾” raised heels.
These boots are best showcased when Julian makes his memorable strut through the lobby of his Mexican City hotel, otherwise clad only in the short black briefs he wears as underwear, made by Mondo di Marco (per iCollector), size large with barely discernible blue side piping.
Though most of the other pieces in Julian’s wardrobe have had their makers identified, his various accessories and jewelry seem to defy confirmed recognition. From place to place, he wears a pair of black acetate-framed sunglasses in a rectangular aviator-style shape with silver arms, suggested in a Superfuture forum to be either Dior Homme or Stussy Flander.
Of all of Julian’s jewelry, the one piece we seem to never see him without is a gold choker-style necklace, consisting of round chain links and an elongated lobster clasp.
Julian regularly wears two yellow gold rings, both with black onyx-filled faces. On his right pinky, he wears a wide ring with a ribbed band and cushion-shaped bezel.
On the third finger of his left hand, he wears a distinctive “Oxford oval”-shaped signet ring with a mounted gold figure of what appears to be a voluptuous naked woman with outstretched arms mounted against the ovular black-filled surface… just the sort of affectation that would appeal to our serial womanizer.
After seeing the decade’s work of detective work at the watchuseek forums, I became pretty certain that I wouldn’t be the one to break the news confirming Brosnan’s exact watch in The Matador. Speculation continues to run wide, with Bulova emerging as a likely contender after the Longines Dolcevita theory was seemingly nixed, though others like Audemarks Piguet, Girard Perregaux, Raymond Weil, Seiko, Tissot, Vacheron Constantine, and Versace all became part of the conversation. (The presence of a Citizen banner during the climactic sequence in Tucson may also suggest a product placement deal that meant Julian Noble wore one of these on his wrist?)
Julian’s mixed-metal wristwatch consists of a brushed steel tonneau-shaped case with a polished gold-finished tonneau-shaped fixed bezel, matching the five alternating rows of steel and gold-finished links in the watch’s “rice-grain” bracelet. The black tonneau-shaped dial is detailed with gold hands and gold non-numeric hour markers, the 12:00 hour denoted by overlaid lines that appear to create an “X” which may hold a clue toward the manufacturer.
Luckily for us all, BAMF Style readers include some very eagle-eyed watch spotters who may no doubt be able to shed some light on Julian Noble’s mysterious watch!
When I first built the IMFDB entry about firearms in The Matador, I had assumed by the shape and stock of Julian’s rifle that he armed himself for these various jobs with a weapon from Accuracy International, the British company formed in 1978 that—as its name implies—specializes in long-range sniper rifles. I was soon informed by a fellow user of the site that the actual rifle is a Remington Model 700 AICS, identifiable by the Model 700’s bolt action and built on the Accuracy International Chassis System (AICS), a configuration that incorporates the distinctive look of AI weaponry with the Remington’s mechanics.
The Model 700 is Remington’s flagship model, offered in a variety of calibers, though the most typical for the Model 700 on the AICS chassis seems to be the rimless 7.62×51 mm NATO military round, which had been introduced in the late 1950s with the American M14 battle rifle and a cousin of the popular .308 Winchester hunting cartridge. The ammunition is fed from a five-round box magazine just ahead of the trigger guard, manually operated by a bolt on the right side.
The chassis system itself seems to typically sell for at least $1,000, as this lineup on OpticsPlanet.com suggests. The polymer frame is available in black, tan, and olive green finishes, and Julian always affixes his rifle system with a scope, suppressor, and bipod for a quiet and accurate shot.
What to Imbibe
If James Bond has been deemed an alcoholic by the Medical Journal of Australia, then Julian Noble would likely be a medical miracle with his substance abuse issues. Over the course of The Matador alone, we see plenty of indulgence. He attempts to drown out his lonely birthday sorrows with considerable amounts of tequila, though it only exacerbates them, as well as a slew of margaritas “con mucho sal” from the hotel bar.
“Margaritas always taste better in Mexico.” Julian comments to Danny, though I’ll leave his follow-up answer a mystery for those who haven’t yet seen the movie.
The next morning, Julian drinks Modelo Especial Mexican beer during his famous strut through the hotel lobby in his underwear, keeping the can in hand as he kicks off his boots and jumps into the pool.
Perhaps avoiding hard liquor after embarrassing himself with Danny the previous evening, Julian sticks to cerveza, though plenty of it. He drinks Corona Extra after the bullfight, poured into goblets while out enjoying the afternoon with his new friend and then, later, straight from the bottle when in Danny’s hotel room.
Back in the states, we saw a fifth of Maker’s Mark bourbon with its distinctive red-waxed neck, kept by the bed in his Denver hotel room where he awakes at the movie’s start.
When he isn’t chain-smoking his Camel Light cigarettes, Julian borrows a vice from Brosnan’s Bond by enjoying a Montecristo cigar, identified as the famous Cuban brand’s “White Label” series by its white band that indicates a Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut shade wrapper.
How to Get the Look
Julian Noble’s daily dress consists of bold yet comfortable fashions that neatly cater to the larger-than-life side of his personality rather than suggesting a hitman hoping to stay under the radar.
- Burnt orange goatskin suede zip-up jacket with shirt-style collar, contrast top-stitching, vertical side pockets, and plain cuffs
- Hugo Boss
- Rust-and-white multi-striped shirt with wide flat collar, five-button plain front, and short sleeves with button-tab bands
- Kenneth Cole
- Pale stone-gray flat front trousers with integrated elastic striped belt, side pockets, zip back-right pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark burgundy brown leather cap-toe zip-up ankle boots
- Gianni Barbato
- Black underwear briefs
- Mondo di Marco
- Gold round chain-link choker-style necklace
- Gold ribbed pinky ring with black onyx-filled cushion bezel
- Gold “Oxford oval”-shaped signet ring with gold naked woman mounted against black onyx face
- Gold-and-steel tonneau-shaped wristwatch with black dial (with gold non-numeric hour markers and hands) on two-tone “rice-grain” bracelet
- Black acetate-framed rectangular aviator sunglasses with silver arms
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I kill people… doesn’t that seem a wee bit psychopathic to you?