Former 007 Pierce Brosnan, who played Ian Fleming’s iconic creation in four James Bond movies for EON, has spoken in detail about love, loss, 007 and life after Bond.
In an interview given to Chris Godfrey via ‘zoom’ for the UK’s Guardian newspaper (1st July), the 67-year old actor reflected back over his life and career, his upbringing in Ireland, his work with various directors over the years, and on the ups and down he has experienced in his personal life (such as the tragic loss of his first wife and, later, their daughter).
As Godfrey noted, the pandemic has disrupted Brosnan’s schedule; he was shooting Cinderella in London until the Covid-19 virus halted production, and returned to his home in Hawaii, where he has remained ever since, along with his wife, the journalist and author Keeley Shaye Smith, and their two sons, Dylan and Paris. After the loss of his first wife, Cassandra Harris (who had a role in For Your Eyes Only), Brosnan had taken up painting as a therapeutic way of dealing with the pain, and he has remained passionate about the hobby ever since, with some of his work selling in charity auctions.
Background and Ambitions
Born and raised in Ireland, Pierce moved to Putney in West London aged 12, and dreamed of acting. He stumbled upon the Ovalhouse theatre in South London and found himself in the company of ‘poets and musicians and outcasts and mangled souls’. His big breakthrough came when he landed a small part in a Tennessee Williams play, The Red Devil Battery Sign, as the understudy. Fortunately, he took over the main part and when they opened at the Roundhouse Theatre in North London in 1977, Brosnan’s performance received critical acclaim.
He said this made him ‘hungry to be an actor’. Although a stage career beckoned, he really wanted to be up on the silver screen. As many fans know, his transition to the screen was in fact via the small screen: in 1982, he landed the role of the suave TV detective Remington Steele, and moved to California (a series which, ironically, denied him his first shot at playing 007, when the makers refused to release him from his contract, and he lost out to Timothy Dalton).
Brosnan made it clear that he regarded his big-screen breakthrough as being down to Mrs. Doubtfire, where he co-starred with the late comedian Robin Williams. It was a film that he is still proud of.
Bond, James Bond…
Inevitably, the interview also turned briefly to Brosnan’s role as James Bond. As Godfrey noted, after losing out on the role of 007 in 1986, ‘When he made his Bond debut, in 1995’s Goldeneye, he made it count’. Brosnan’s ‘iteration of Bond – sensitive, suave, serious – proved to be a huge success’.
After his final outing as 007, in 2002’s Die Another Day, the EON producers had decided the franchise needed a reboot and, although Pierce was keen to do a fifth Bond movie, the producers informed him over the phone in 2004 that they had decided to recast the role. Although Pierce had said a bit later that he had been ‘kicked to the kerb’, he is more philosophical about it now: he told the Guardian: ‘There’s no regret. I do not let regret come into my world… It just leads to more misery and more regrets’.
And, in what could perhaps be interpreted as a message for any future post-Craig actor in the role of 007, Brosnan added: ‘Bond is the gift that keeps giving and has allowed me to have a wonderful career. Once you’re branded as Bond, it’s with you forever, so you better make peace with it and understand that when you walk through those doors and pick up the mantle of playing James Bond’.
Acting is Forever
Pierce gave the interview to the Guardian newspaper to help promote his supporting role in the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, in which he plays the father of Will Ferrell’s character. Godfrey also observed that Brosnan remains as busy as ever and has been prolific in recent years: he has four films in production and a fifth awaiting release.
The ex-Bond said: ‘I have no desire to retire. I am a man of 67 years now and the parts that will come to me will be the parts of the elder, the parts of the comedic turn. At this point in life, I don’t know what else to do but act and paint’.