Pierce Brosnan Biography
Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist, who holds both Irish and American citizenship. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years. Following a stage acting career he rose to popularity in the television series Remington Steele.
Brosnan portrayed the secret agent James Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He also provided his voice and likeness to Bond in the video game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. In 1993, Brosnan starred in Mrs Doubtfire playing the part of 'Stu'. He also played the part of volcanologist Harry Dalton in the film Dantes Peak along with actress Linda Hamilton in 1997. In 1996, he formed, along with Beau St. Clair, a Los Angeles-based production company named Irish DreamTime. He was married to Cassandra Harris until her death, and is now married to Keely Shaye Smith.
Since leaving the role of James Bond, Brosnan has starred in films such as The Matador and Seraphim Falls. He became an American citizen in 2004. In his later years, he has been known for his charitable work and environmental activism. He is currently working on the projects The Topkapi Affair, Caitlin and The Big Biazarro. He starred in the new movie musical Mamma Mia! as Sam Carmichael, though he received a nomination for a Golden Raspberry for "Worst Supporting Actor". He is now to narrate the new 'Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends shows.
Brosnan was born on May 16, 1953 in Navan, County Meath, Ireland to Thomas Brosnan, a carpenter, and May (née Smith). Brosnan was raised in a Catholic family and educated in a local school run by the De La Salle Brothers. Brosnan's mother moved to London to work as a nurse after his father had abandoned the family. According to Brosnan "Childhood was fairly solitary. I grew up in a very small town in southern Ireland. I never knew my father. He left when I was an infant and I was left in the care of my mother and my grandparents. To be Catholic in the '50s, and to be Irish Catholic in the '50s, and have a marriage which was not there, a father who was not there, consequently, the mother, the wife suffered greatly. My mother was very courageous. She took the bold steps to go away and be a nurse in England. Basically wanting a better life for her and myself. My mother came home once a year, twice a year".
Brosnan was therefore brought up by his grandparents, Philip and Kathleen Smith, from a young age. After their death, he then lived with an aunt and then an uncle, but was subsequently sent to live with a woman named Eileen, in a poor part of town, but describes it as a welcoming one. Brosnan has expressed contempt for his education by the De La Salle Brothers, "I grew up being taught by the Christian brothers, who were dreadful, dreadful human beings. Just the whole hypocrisy. And the cruelness of their ways toward children. They were very sexually repressed. Bitter. Cowards, really. I have nothing good to say about them and will have nothing good to say about them. It was ugly. Very ugly. Dreadful. I learnt nothing from the Christian brothers except shame."
Brosnan left Ireland on 12 August 1964 and was reunited with his mother and her new husband, a British World War II veteran, William Carmichael, now living in the Scottish village of Longniddrie. Brosnan quickly embraced his mother's new husband as a father figure. Carmichael took Brosnan to see a James Bond film for the first time (Goldfinger), at the age of eleven. Later moving back to London, Brosnan was educated at Elliott School, a state secondary modern school in Putney, West London. Brosnan has spoken about the transition from Ireland to England and his education in London; "When you go to a very large city, a metropolis like London, as an Irish boy of 10, life suddenly moves pretty fast. From a little school of, say, seven classrooms in Ireland, to this very large comprehensive school, with over 2,000 children. And you're Irish. And they make you feel it; the British have a wonderful way of doing that, and I had a certain deep sense of being an outsider". When he attended school, his nickname was "Irish".
After leaving school at 16, he decided to be a painter and began training in commercial illustration at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. At the Oval House in 1969, he came in a workshop to rehearse. A fire eater was teaching women how to put the flames across the chest and they had their tops off. So he thought he'd join in and learnt how to fire-eat. A circus agent saw him busking and hired him for three years. He later trained for three years as an actor at the Drama Centre in London. Brosnan has described the feeling of becoming an actor and the impact it had on his life, "When I found acting, or when acting found me, it was a liberation. It was a stepping stone into another life, away from a life that I had, and acting was something I was good at, something which was appreciated. That was a great satisfaction in my life."
After graduating from the Drama Centre in 1975, Brosnan began working as an acting assistant stage manager at the York Theatre Royal, making his acting debut in Wait Until Dark. Within six months, he was selected by playwright Tennessee Williams to play the role of McCabe in the British première of The Red Devil Battery Sign. His performance caused a stir in London and Brosnan still has the telegram sent by Williams, stating only "Thank God for you, my dear boy". He continued his career making brief appearances in films such as The Long Good Friday (1980) and The Mirror Crack'd (1980), as well as early television performances in The Professionals, Murphy's Stroke, and Play for Today. He became a television star in the United States with his leading role in the popular miniseries Manions of America. He followed this with his 1982 Masterpiece Theatre documentary that chronicled the life of Lady Nancy Astor – the first woman to sit in British Parliament. His portrayal of the love-deprived Robert Gould Shaw II garnered him a 1985 Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1982, Brosnan moved to southern California and rose to popularity in the United States playing the title role in the NBC romantic detective series Remington Steele. The Washington Post noted that same year that Brosnan "could make it as a young James Bond." After Remington Steele ended in 1987, Brosnan went on to appear in several films, including The Fourth Protocol (1987), a Cold War thriller in which he starred alongside Michael Caine, The Deceivers (1988) and The Lawnmower Man (1992). In 1992, he shot a pilot for NBC called Running Wilde, playing a reporter for Auto World magazine. Jennifer Love Hewitt played his daughter, but the pilot never aired. In 1993 he played a supporting role in the comedy film Mrs Doubtfire. He also appeared in several television films, including Death Train (1993) and Night Watch (1995), a Hong Kong-set spy thriller.
Brosnan first met James Bond films producer Albert R. Broccoli on the sets of For Your Eyes Only because his then-wife was in the film. Broccoli said, "if he can act… he's my guy" to inherit the role of Bond from Roger Moore. It was reported by both Entertainment Tonight and the National Enquirer, that Brosnan was going to inherit another role of Moore's, that of The Saint, Simon Templar. Brosnan turned down the rumours in July 1993 but added, "it's still languishing there on someone's desk in Hollywood."
In 1986, Timothy Dalton was approached for the Bond role; his involvement with the 1986 film adaptation of Brenda Starr kept Dalton from being able to accept it. A number of actors were then screen-tested for the role – notably Sam Neill – but were ultimately passed over by Broccoli. Remington Steele was about to end, so Brosnan was offered the role, but the publicity revived Remington Steele and Brosnan had to decline the role of James Bond, owing to his contract.
By then, Dalton had become available again, and he accepted the role for The Living Daylights (1987), and Licence to Kill (1989). Legal squabbles about ownership of the film franchise resulted in the cancellation of a proposed third Dalton film in 1991 (rumoured title: The Property of a Lady) and put the series on a hiatus, which lasted six years. GoldenEye was originally written with Dalton as Bond, but he turned it down. On 7 June 1994, Brosnan was announced as the fifth actor to play Bond.
Brosnan was signed for a three-film deal with the option of a fourth. He first appeared as Bond in 1995's GoldenEye to much critical praise. Critic James Berardinelli described him as "a decided improvement over his immediate predecessor" with a "flair for wit to go along with his natural charm." GoldenEye grossed US $350 million worldwide. It had the fourth highest worldwide gross of any film in 1995. It was the most successful Bond film at that time.
In 1996, Brosnan formed a film production company entitled "Irish DreamTime" along with producing partner Beau St. Clair. Three years later the company's first studio project, The Thomas Crown Affair, was released and met both critical and box-office success. Brosnan returned in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies and 1999's The World Is Not Enough, which were also successful. In 2002, Brosnan appeared for his fourth time as Bond in Die Another Day. During the promotion, he mentioned that he would like to continue his role as James Bond: "I'd like to do another, sure. Connery did six. Six would be a number, then never come back."
Brosnan asked EON Productions when accepting the role, to be allowed to work on other projects between Bond films. The request was granted, and for every Bond film, Brosnan appeared in at least two other mainstream films, including several he produced. Brosnan played a wide range of roles in between his Bond film appearances, ranging from a scientist in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, to a volcanologist in Dante's Peak and the title role in Grey Owl, a biopic about Englishman Archibald Stansfeld Belaney who adopted the Ojibwa name Grey Owl and become one of Canada's first conservationists.
Shortly after the release of Die Another Day, the media began questioning whether or not Brosnan would reprise the role for a fifth time. Brosnan kept in mind that both aficionados and critics were unhappy with Roger Moore playing the role until he was 58, but he was receiving popular support from both critics and the franchise fanbase for a fifth installment. For this reason, he remained enthusiastic about reprising his role. Throughout 2004, it was rumored that negotiations had broken down between Brosnan and the producers to make way for a new and younger actor. This was denied by MGM and EON Productions. In July 2004, Brosnan announced that he was quitting the role, stating "Bond is another lifetime, behind me"; this is thought by some to be a failed negotiating ploy. In October 2004, Brosnan said he considered himself dismissed from the role. Although Brosnan had been rumoured frequently as still in the running to play 007, he had denied it several times, and in February 2005 he posted on his website that he was finished with the role. Daniel Craig took over the role on 14 October 2005. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Brosnan was asked what he thought of Craig as the new James Bond. He replied, "I'm looking forward to it like we're all looking forward to it. Daniel Craig is a great actor and he's going to do a fantastic job". He reaffirmed this support in an interview to the International Herald Tribune, stating that " on his way to becoming a memorable Bond."
During his tenure on the James Bond films, Brosnan also took part in James Bond video games. In 2002, Brosnan's likeness was used as the face of Bond in the James Bond video game Nightfire (voiced by Maxwell Caulfield). In 2004, Brosnan starred in the Bond game Everything or Nothing, contracting for his likeness to be used as well as doing the voice-work for the character.
2003–present: Post-James Bond career
Brosnan's first post-Bond role was that of Daniel Rafferty in 2004's Laws of Attraction. Garreth Murphy, of entertainment.ie, described Brosnan's performance as "surprisingly effective, gently riffing off his James Bond persona and supplementing it with a raffish energy". In the same year, Brosnan starred in After the Sunset alongside Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson. The film elicited generally negative reviews and a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Brosnan's next film was 2005's The Matador. He starred as Julian Noble, a jaded, boozy assassin who meets a travelling salesman (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexican bar. The film was better received than After the Sunset and garnered more positive reviews. Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times called Brosnan's performance the best of his career. Brosnan was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy but lost to Joaquin Phoenix for Walk the Line.
Brosnan's first film of 2007 was Seraphim Falls, in which he starred alongside fellow Irishman Liam Neeson. The film was released for limited screenings on 26 January 2007 to average reviews. Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times noted that Brosnan and Neeson made "fine adversaries;" Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter thought that they were "hard-pressed to inject some much-needed vitality into their sparse lines." There have been reports as of January 2009 that Pierce Brosnan will be play the villan in the new Ghostbusters movie.
Pre-production has started on The Thomas Crown Affair 2, the sequel to the 1999 film The Thomas Crown Affair. The sequel, directed by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, will use Eric Ambler's novel The Light of Day and the 1964 adaptation, Topkapi as a basis. In December 2005, Brosnan was reported to be attached to star in The November Man, an adaptation of Bill Grainger's novel, There Are No Spies, but the project was cancelled in 2007. Brosnan will also be financially backing Caitlin, a film about Caitlin MacNamara, wife of poet Dylan Thomas. The title role will be played by Miranda Richardson and Brosnan will have a small part as Thomas's literary agent, John Brinnin. Brosnan's co-star in Die Another Day, Rosamund Pike, will also appear. Also in 2008, Brosnan joined Meryl Streep in the film adaption of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia!. He played Sam Carmichael, one of three men rumoured to be the father of lead Amanda Seyfried, while Streep played her mother. Judy Craymer, producer to the film, said "Pierce brings a certain smooch factor, and we think he'll have great chemistry with Meryl in a romantic comedy." Brosnan's preparation in singing for the role included walking up and down the coast and singing karaoke to his own voice for about six weeks, followed by rehearsals in New York which he noted "sounded dreadful". He is also to narrate the UK and US Versions of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.
In 2009, Brosnan will star in The Big Biazarro, directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall. The film is an adaptation of the Leonard Wise novel of the same name. He plays a card player who mentors a headstrong protégé. Brosnan has also spoke recently of making a Western film with fellow Irishmen Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney. Brosnan is also set to narrate "all English language versions of the brand" including seasons 13-15 of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, replacing Michael Brandon in North America and Michael Angelis in the United Kingdom. Actor and director Danny DeVito has stated that Brosnan will join Dakota Fanning and Morgan Freeman in his adaptation of the 1990 novel The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. He will play "Zachariah, the ship's cook, surgeon, and carpenter."
Brosnan met Australian actor, Cassandra Harris, through David Harris, one of Richard Harris' nephews in 1974, shortly after he left drama school. On meeting her he has described his feelings saying "What a beautiful looking woman. I never for an instant thought she was someone I'd spend 17 years of my life with. I didn't think of wooing her, or attempting to woo her; I just wanted to enjoy her beauty and who she was". They began dating, and eventually managed to scrape enough money together to buy a small house in Wimbledon in 1979. They lived with her small children, Charlotte (born 27 November 1971) and Christopher (born 6 October 1972), whom he would later adopt after their father died in 1986. They married in 1977 and had one son together, Sean (birth 13 September 1983).
Financially, Brosnan was concerned about earning enough money to get by at this time, and supplemented their income by working in West End productions, and a television film about Irish horse racing. Soon after Harris appeared in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only in 1981, with a bank loan, they moved to southern California where Brosnan had his first interview in Hollywood for Remington Steele, and subsequently no longer had financial worries.
When Remington Steele was sent to Ireland to film an episode there, generating significant publicity in doing so, Brosnan was briefly reunited with his father who visited his hotel. Brosnan had expected to see a very tall man, but describes his father as, "a man of medium stature, pushed-back silver hair, flinty eyes and a twizzled jaw. He had a very strong Kerry accent." However, Brosnan expresses regret that they met under such circumstances in a public environment rather than on his own terms which would have given him the opportunity to speak privately with him.
While filming The Deceivers in Rajasthan, India in 1987, his wife Cassandra Harris became seriously ill. She was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died four years later in 1991. Brosnan struggled to cope with her cancer and death and has said; "A young woman making her way through life, as a mother, as an actress. When your partner gets cancer, then life changes. Your timetable and reference for your normal routines and the way you view life, all this changes. Because you're dealing with death. You're dealing with the possibility of death and dying. And it was that way through the chemotherapy, through the first-look operation, the second look, the third look, the fourth look, the fifth look. Cassie was very positive about life. I mean, she had the most amazing energy and outlook on life. It was and is a terrible loss, and I see it reflected, from time to time, in my children."
In 2001, Brosnan married American journalist Keely Shaye Smith, and they have two sons together, Dylan Thomas Brosnan (birth 13 January 1997) and Paris Beckett Brosnan (birth 27 February 2001).
In July 2003, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Brosnan an honorary OBE for his "outstanding contribution to the British film industry". As an Irish citizen, he is ineligible to receive the full OBE honour, which is awarded only to a citizen of the Commonwealth realms. In 2002, Brosnan was also awarded an Honorary degree from the Dublin Institute of Technology and, one year later, the University College Cork.
Pierce Brosnan is a fan of the football team Fulham FC
On 23 September 2004, Brosnan became a citizen of the United States, but has retained his Irish citizenship. Brosnan said that "my Irishness is in everything I do. It's the spirit of who I am, as a man, an actor, a father. It's where I come from." Brosnan was asked by a fan if it annoyed him when people get his nationality confused. He said: "It amuses me in some respects that they should confuse me with an Englishman when I'm dyed-in-the-wool, born and bred Irishman...I don't necessarily fly under any flag. But no, it doesn't bother me."
Environmental and charitable work
Brosnan supported John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election and is a vocal supporter of gun control and same-sex marriage. An outspoken environmentalist, In 2004, he was named 'Best-dressed Environmentalist' by the Sustainable Style Foundation.
Brosnan first became aware of nuclear disarmament at the age of nine when worldwide condemnation of the 1962 U.S. nuclear tests in Nevada headlined international news. During the 1990s, he participated in news conferences in Washington, D.C. to help Greenpeace draw attention to the issue. Brosnan boycotted the French GoldenEye premiere to support Greenpeace's protest against the French nuclear testing program. From 1997 to 2000, Brosnan and wife Smith worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to stop a proposed salt factory from being built at Laguna San Ignacio. The couple with Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford and Daryl Hannah successfully fought the Cabrillo Port Liquefied Natural Gas facility that was proposed off the coast of Malibu and would cause damage to the marine life there; the State Lands Commission eventually denied the lease to build the terminal. in May 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the facility. Brosnan is also listed as a member of the Sea Shepherd's Board of Advisors.
Brosnan also raises money for charitable causes through sales of his paintings. He trained early on as an artist, but later shifted to theatre; during his first wife's terminal illness, he withdrew from acting to be with her and took up painting again for therapeutic reasons, producing colorful landscapes and family portraits. He has continued painting since then, using spare time on set and at home. Profits from sales of giclée prints of his works are given to a trust to benefit "environmental, children's and women's health charities." Since Harris' death, Brosnan has been an advocate for cancer awareness and, in 2006, he served as spokesperson for Lee National Denim Day, a breast cancer fundraiser which raises millions of dollars and raises more money in a single day than any other breast cancer fundraiser.
In May 2007, Brosnan and Smith donated $100,000 to help replace a playground on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where they own a home. On 7 July 2007, Brosnan presented a film at Live Earth in London He also recorded a television advertisement for the cause. Brosnan lives with his family in Malibu, California.
Pierce Brosnan has been an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland since 2001. Pierce recorded a special announcement to mark the launch of UNICEF's "Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS" Campaign with Liam Neeson.