You might think that Pierce Brosnan has one of the most charmed lives in Hollywood. After all, he has a beautiful wife, an incredible career, and was James Bond! But born in Ireland in 1953, he did not have the easiest start in life. His father left when he was hardly more than a baby, and his mother worked full time as a nurse in London, leaving him in the care of his grandparents for most of the time.
Bullying at School
Eventually, he was able to move down to London to be with his mother, enrolling in an English school. However, the other kids were not kind to the kid from Ireland, branding him with the name ‘Irish’ because of his nickname. Life wasn’t all bad, and his mothers new husband took him to see his first ever Bond film, igniting a love in him for the series which would probably make him laugh one day when he realised where life was going to take him.
A Fire Eater!
But acting was not on Pierce’s mind at this point in his life. In fact, before heading down that road, Pierce actually worked as a fire-eater! When given the chance to learn the skill, he thought why not, and hey-it came in handy years later on this episode of the Muppet Show! When an agent from the circus saw Pierce doing his fire-eating routine, he signed him up for three years, after which Pierce headed to the London Drama School.
Romance on the Cards
Love was in the air in 1977, as Pierce met the woman who would be his wife, Cassandra Harris. She already had two children, who Pierce was happy to take on as if they were his own. The couple married in 1980, and had their own son, Sean. They had only just over a decade together before Cassandra tragically died from Ovarian Cancer, aged just 43. This is known to be one of the great heartbreaks of Pierce’s life.
Heading to the States
Around the same time as he met and married Cassandra, Pierce was starting to build for himself an acting career. He acted in a Tennessee Williams play, as well as in a film with Helen Mirren called The Long Good Friday. In America, he was cast in The Manions of America, which was about a family of immigrants from Ireland who were looking to build a new life in the States. This was the first the USA had seen of Pierce Brosnan, but it wouldn’t be the last.
Best Supporting Actor Nomination
By 1985, Pierce was making waves globally, even managing to grab a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 1985 Golden Globes. The nomination came for his part as Robert Gould Shaw the second, in a documentary about the life of Lady Nancy Astor, who was the first woman to sit in the British Parliament. People were beginning to sit up and take notice of this Irish star.
Now came the role which would set up his whole career, and set the stage for his days as James Bond. Pierce was cast in the TV program, Remington Steele. The Washington Post even noticed his charms, saying straight out that he “could make it as a young Bond.” He also began getting movie roles, in Mrs Doubtfire with Robin Williams and Sally Field. He was in demand, and this was just the start.
Meeting a Legend
His late wife Cassandra had always hoped that he would one day play James Bond, and when Pierce met the producer of the Bond movies, Albert Broccoli, it was actually on the set of one of her own roles, in For Your Eyes Only. After her death, in 1987, Pierce was offered the Bond role, but he didn’t feel he was ready, instead staying with Remington Steele, and the part was given to Timothy Dalton.
“A good whistler”
Pierce has spoken out about meeting his father in a hotel room in Ireland during the filming for Remington Steele. To all accounts it was an awkward encounter, and although they shared a few hours together and a few pints of beer, he didn’t exactly find a rekindled love there. His own lukewarm words were, “He was a good whistler and he had a good walk… that’s about all I know about him.”
The Fourth Protocol
Many people feel that Pierce’s role in the movie The Fourth Protocol helped him decide how he would later on play his iconic version of James Bond. This was a spy movie which he acted in opposite Michael Caine. Brosnan played a KGB officer who is sent to the UK and sets up what appears to be an accidental nuclear disaster, but is actually planned by the Russians. The critics regarded the movie well.
Replacing Timothy Dalton
It might be Pierce’s Coca Cola advertising part which led to him finally accepting the role of James Bond. While Timothy Dalton was signed up for the next movie, the Coke commercials called Pierce a “dashing, Bond-like character” which clearly caused problems. Dalton’s third film was cancelled, and in 1994, Pierce Brosnan signed on for his first Bond film. Dalton and Brosnan remained close friends and no grudges were held between the two Bonds.
A more vulnerable Bond
Pierce must have thought often of his first wife Cassandra, as he fulfilled her dream of being a Bond hero. He starred in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. He was immediately catapulted to the A List, if he wasn’t there already, and continued to enjoy fame even once he handed over the tuxedo so to speak, to Daniel Craig. Critic Roger Ebert said that Brosnan had made Bond “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete”.
Tomorrow Never Dies
If you watch Tomorrow Never Dies, you might catch some funny tricks which are done with camera angles. For many of the scenes, you can only see one side of Pierce’s face! This is because in the middle of an action scene, a stuntman’s helmet flew off and hit Brosnan directly in the side of his face. He ended up with 8 stitches, which no amount of make up could hide for the rest of filming.
The Tuxedo Rule
Some rules apply to most people, but not to everyone. All the previous Bond actors had a rule which meant that they couldn’t act in any other films while they were contracted as Bond. For some reason, Pierce Brosnan never had to keep to that rule, and played other parts in between filming for Bond, such as The Mirror has Two Faces. One rule they weren’t going to let him off though, was that he absolutely could not wear a tuxedo, not even at awards ceremonies or private affairs.
The Thomas Crown Affair
Did you know that Pierce has his own production company, which is called Irish Dreamtime? They have had a lot of success, even with their first movie project, The Thomas Crown Affair, which he starred in himself. You might not realise that the actor did all of his own stunt work, including the ones which took place on water. He even bought himself golf lessons so that he could play the part accurately!
Keely Shaye Smith
Pierce loved his first wife Cassandra, but he did manage to find love again after her death. In 1994, he met Keely Shaye Smith, a journalist. They met in Mexico, on the beach, and slowly the pair started dating, with Keely getting to know Pierce’s other children as they all became a family. They got married in 2001 in Ireland, and she gave Pierce two more sons, Dylan and Paris. Believe it or not, Pierce now has 3 grandchildren!
One of Pierce’s most popular and famous roles is his part opposite Meryl Streep in the musical Mamma Mia. While many said that his voice wasn’t up to the challenge of a musical role, others believe he gave authenticity to the part, and his acting and confidence helped him get away with it. The film, based on the musical which uses the songs of Swedish band ABBA, was a box office success, and the critics liked it too!
Another movie of note, was Pierce’s 2006 role as Gideon in Seraphim Falls. This movie had two Irishmen in, as Liam Neeson also starred alongside him. What was hilarious was that they both played Americans, while Xander Berkely, who is an American actor, played an Irishman! Brosnan had been a long time fan of western movies, so he really loved having the chance to star in one.
The Love of Keely and Pierce
Keely and Pierce are very much in love, and the media often shows them strolling hand in hand, or catching a glimpse of one another smiling and making eye contact through a crowd. Blended families can be tough, but they appear to be making it work with ease, with Keely managing a successful job as a journalist for major organisations while Pierce hits it out of the park with his A list acting career. We hope they have a long and happy future.
Working with Roman Polanski
Sometimes, celebrities make decisions which the media can’t help but jump on and create headline news. In 2010, Pierce came under scrutiny for agreeing to work with director Roman Polanski. Polanski cannot go back to the USA. He was famously charged with the sexual assault of a thirteen year old in the house of actor Jack Nicholson in the late 1970’s. Pierce starred in his film, The Ghost Writer, which also starred Ewan McGregor.
But the only headlines that would appear in 2013 was people sending best wishes when an unthinkable tragedy happened in his personal life. His daughter Charlotte, who he adopted when married to her mother Cassandra, died of the same illness which killed his wife, Ovarian Cancer. At a Stand Up 2 Cancer event, Pierce opened up and said, “To watch someone you love have his or her life eaten away bit by bit by this insidious disease, that part of your sorrow becomes an indelible part of your psyche.”
The Future of Bond
Pierce Brosnan was once asked about how far he thought that Hollywood could push the role of James Bond. Rumors were that they were thinking of offering the part to British actor Idris Elba. He said that he saw no reason why you couldn’t have a black James Bond, but he drew the line at a female one, saying that James Bond is “all male”. He also said he thought the next James Bond would probably be white.
Honor in the UK
The Queen is obviously a fan of Pierce Brosnan, as in 2003, she gave him an OBE, an Order of the British Empire. This was for his services to the film industry. Pierce did not get full honors because he is not actually a British citizen, he holds Irish citizenship as well as gaining U.S citizenship in 2004. As you can tell by the name of his production company, he’s proud of his roots and wouldn’t ever deny them.
Another thing that the actor is proud of, are his religious roots. In fact, he says that without that faith and that Catholicism, he might not have made it through so much tragedy, losing both his wife and his daughter to cancer. “I would say faith, being Irish, being Catholic. It’s ingrained in my DNA.” He has said that he enjoys the ritual of Catholicism as well, although he also borrows facets of his belief from Buddhism.
Pierce and Keely are fierce advocates for the environment, and are active in many different causes. Pierce has done some work for Greenpeace, and they have both volunteered for the Natural Resources Defense Council as well as the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Pierce also sells paintings for charity, sharing them on his Instagram and promoting the causes he believes in. His most recent endeavour is a save the whales campaign.
A $100,000 donation
The Brosnan family have a home in America and they also have a holiday home in Hawaii. It was here that they got involved in helping out the elementary school in Kuai, by donating $100,000 to rebuild an unsafe playground. Pierce was quoted as saying “We were disheartened that the playground equipment was condemned for so long, and we wanted to find a way to help…we believe play activities enhance children’s educational experiences and they were missing out.”
Shocking fire at home
More recently, Pierce experienced another tragedy, although thank goodness no one was hurt this time. A huge fire at his $18.5 million home was caused by an electrical problem, and ended up with over a million dollars worth of damage. As well as that, Pierce’s beloved Aston Martin Vanquish was destroyed. The family were at home when the fire happened, but luckily everyone got out before anyone was hurt.
James Corden scandal
If you followed the scandal between Pierce and James Corden, you might still be confused about what happened between them. James had to answer a version of truth or dare where he was forced to name a celeb who had been rude to him. Against a wall, he named Pierce Brosnan, telling a story where Pierce had pushed him and then not apologized.
Two sides to every story
Corden said that he doesn’t believe that Pierce Brosnan is a rude man, but he told the story like this. They were at a U2 event, and the space was crowded. “literally, I’ve never felt anything like it, this arm went on here and just pushed me out the way. And I looked at him, and he didn’t even glance at me and he just moved back into this area.” The Huffington Post then wrote an article naming all the kind things they had heard about and experienced from Brosnan. Corden also had a public row with Patrick Stewart.
Pierce’s big break
Pierce made a heartwarming public statement in January 2017 after the death of Mary Tyler Moore. It was her production company which made Remington Steele, that Pierce credited for his big break. Pierce said he would be forever grateful to her for giving him a chance, and basically giving him his chance in show business. He made this statement on Instagram, expressing his best wishes to her family.
Skills as an artist
Before Pierce was an actor, he studied at art college! At only 16 years old, he had ambitions to become an illustrator, but then put it off as his acting career began to grow legs. He never stopped painting and drawing, and now he sells his illustrations to support the charities he feels passionately about and wants to give help to. He is professionally trained, and might go back into that kind of work some day!
As well as his environmental charity work, Pierce is also an Ambassador for UNICEF, as well as a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. When asked if there could be a James Bond film where 007 is gay, he said “sure, why not?” He isn’t sure it will happen any time soon, because perhaps the execs who make these decisions wouldn’t be brave enough to go with it, but Pierce did say it would be “interesting viewing.”
Have you read Pierce Brosnan’s biography, released in the noughties? It had tons of never before uncovered facts about his life and his career, and was thoroughly enjoyed by his fans. One of the most interesting parts was where he discussed his youth, where he was somewhat of a hippie. “I was young, frivolous and full of abandon – a hippie with long hair down to my shoulders and a little goatee beard.” At one point, he thought he himself might be gay.
About a decade ago, Pierce was in the movie Shattered alongside Maria Bellow and Gerard Butler. As an action movie, there are a ton of stunts, and we all know that Brosnan likes trying to do as many of his own as possible. In this film, there was a parking lot crash where he was not supposed to be his own stunt man, and yet it was him in the car! His fellow actors were pretty shocked, and this was all caught on camera.
Do you know what instrument he plays?
As well as acting, Pierce is a music lover, and his instrument of choice is a bit surprising! He loves to play… the ukulele! This started after he began to spend time as a family in Hawaii, and he now even does some advertising for the Komoa brand of the instrument. He’s a huge fan of the sound, saying “I love the ukulele. It’s got a beautiful, melodic tone to it. There’s something innocent and romantic, and it’s just a grand instrument to play,”
An incredible actor
Did you know that Pierce is claustrophobic? Some of his roles have been tough on him, such as Dante’s Peak where he had to crawl in and out of some tight spaces. Despite this limitation, he has one of the most successful careers in show business, and an estimated net worth of over $80 million. He has had more than his share of tragedy in his life, and we can only wish him a trouble free future and a long and happy career.