Pierce Brosnan Biography

Pierce Brosnan Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Pierce Brendan Brosnan", OBE (born May 16, 1953) is an Irish-American actor and producer best known for portraying James Bond in four films from 1995 to 2002: "GoldenEye", "Tomorrow Never Dies", "The World Is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day". Since leaving the role, Brosnan has gone on to star in films such as "Evelyn" and "Seraphim Falls". In 1996, he also formed, along with Beau St. Clair, a Los Angeles-based production company named "Irish DreamTime". His current projects include "Butterfly on a Wheel", "Mamma Mia!" and "The Topkapi Affair", sequel to 1999's "The Thomas Crown Affair".

Early life

Born an only child to Thomas and May (née Smith) in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, Brosnan was brought up in nearby Navan, County Meath. He was educated in the local school, which was run by the De La Salle Brothers. Brosnan's mother moved to London, England for work after his father, a carpenter, abandoned the family; in 1964, at the age of eleven, Pierce Brosnan joined his mother. Brosnan left Ireland on August 12 1964 the very day that Ian Fleming died.His mother subsequently divorced his father and married a British World War II veteran, William Charmichael, who was quickly embraced as a father figure by his young stepson. It was Charmichael who took Brosnan to see his first Bond film, "Goldfinger". Brosnan was educated at Elliott School, a state secondary modern school in Putney, West London. Brosnan would have his first 'crush' on his geography teacher during his time at school. When he attended high school, his nickname was 'Irish'. After school, Brosnan desired to be an artist and started training in commercial illustration at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. When he was 16, a circus agent saw him busking as a fire eater and hired him. He later trained for three years as an actor at the Drama Centre, London.


Early career

After graduating from the Drama Center in 1975, Brosnan got a job as an acting assistant stage manager at York Theatre Royal, making his first stage appearance 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" starring with Kate Mulgrew, David Soul and Linda Purl. He followed this with his 1982 portrayal of Robert Gould Shaw II in the Masterpiece Theatre documentary that chronicled the life of Virginia-born Lady Nancy Astor--the first woman to sit in British Parliament. His portrayal of the love-deprived Shaw garnered Brosnan a 1985 Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

In 1982, Brosnan shot to popularity in the United States playing the ruggedly handsome title role in the popular NBC romantic detective series "Remington Steele," starring opposite Stephanie Zimbalist as agency creator Laura Holt. The Washington Post noted that same year that 'Pierce Brosnan could make it as a young James Bond.' In 1986, Brosnan was actually offered the role of James Bond before the "Remington Steele" series could be completed, but he was unable to break the contract with the producers. He went on to appear in several notable films such as "The Fourth Protocol" (1987), "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 whose stories cover his own wild auto adventures. Jennifer Love Hewitt played his daughter, but the series wasn't picked up and the pilot never aired. The following year he played a supporting role in the comedy film "Mrs Doubtfire". He also appeared in several television films such as "Night Watch" (1995), a Hong Kong-set spy thriller, starring alongside actress Alexandra Paul.

James Bond

Brosnan's first connection to the James Bond films was when he visited his wife Cassandra Harris on the set of "For Your Eyes Only". According to a 1986 report, Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli, producer of all of the Bond films up to that time, said 'if he Brosnan can act...he's my guy' to replace then-Bond Roger Moore. It was reported around this time, by both "Entertainment Tonight" and the "National Enquirer", that Brosnan was up for inheriting another role of Moore's, that of "The Saint", Simon Templar. He verified the rumours in a 1993 issue of "Orange Coast" magazine but said 'it's still languishing there on someone's desk in Hollywood.' The film was finally made in 1997 with Val Kilmer in the title role.

In 1986, after Roger Moore's retirement from the Bond role, Timothy Dalton was approached once again, after previously having turned it down in 1967, 1969, and 1980; 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 ultimately passed over by producer Albert Broccoli. Brosnan, whose television series "Remington Steele" had just ended, was offered the role, but publicity revived "Remington Steele" and Brosnan had to decline the role of James Bond, due to his contract with the show. By then, Dalton became available and accepted the role for "The Living Daylights" (1987), which was a box-office success; his second turn as 007, "Licence to Kill" (1989) was a disappointment at the American box office, and 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 six-year hiatus. "GoldenEye" was originally written with Dalton as Bond, but he turned it down, which left the door open for Brosnan in 1994. On June 7, 1994, Brosnan was officially announced as the fifth actor to play James Bond. Brosnan's appointment as Bond brought things full circle for the actor, who stated in interviews that the very first movie he ever saw was "Goldfinger" and that Sean Connery's performance as Bond had inspired him to enter show business.

Brosnan was signed for a three-film deal with an option of a fourth, and first appeared as agent 007 in 1995's "GoldenEye" to much critical praise. James Berardinelli described Brosnan as 'a decided improvement over his immediate predecessor' with a 'flair for wit to go along with his natural charm', but added that 'fully one-quarter of "Goldeneye" is momentum-killing padding.' "GoldenEye" made over $26 million during its opening weekend in the USA and during its release made around $350 million worldwide. It had the fourth highest worldwide gross of any film in 1995. Taking inflation into account, it was the most successful Bond film since "Moonraker".

Brosnan returned in 1997's "Tomorrow Never Dies" and 1999's "The World Is Not Enough", which were also highly successful. In 2002, Brosnan appeared for his fourth time as Bond in "Die Another Day".

Shortly after the release of "Die Another Day", the media began questioning whether or not Brosnan would reprise the role for a fifth and final time, in the later titled "Casino Royale". 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 after his initial contract expired, despite earlier reservations about doing so.

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 to "Entertainment Weekly" 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 had been quoted as saying he considered himself fired 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. In spite of this, rumours continued to circulate that he was in negotiations with the producers right up until Daniel Craig was signed and announced on October 14, 2005. In an interview with "The Globe and Mail", Brosnan was asked what he thought of Daniel 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 'Craig's 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" (Bond was voiced by Maxwell Caulfield). In 2004, Brosnan starred in the James Bond video game "Everything or Nothing", contracting for his likeness to be used as well as doing the voice-work for the character; it was his last performance as James Bond.

Post-James Bond career

Aware of the danger of being typecast as James Bond, 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, along with producing partner Beau St. Clair, also formed a film production company in 1996, entitled 'Irish DreamTime'. For a time, rumour was that his Bond contract forbade him from wearing a dinner suit in any non-Bond film; that rumour was false. Brosnan played a wide range of roles in between his Bond film appearances, ranging from a nerdy 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.

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 Britain or of one of the Commonwealth of Nations member countries. In 2002, Brosnan was also awarded an Honorary degree from the Dublin Institute of Technology and, two years later, the University College Cork.

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 opened to generally negative reviews; it currently holds a 17% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Brosnan's next film was 2005's "The Matador". Shaking off the sophisticated secret agent image, Brosnan starred as Julian Noble, a jaded and paunchy 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 for his work in the film but lost out to Joaquin Phoenix's role as Johnny Cash in "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 January 26, 2007 to average reviews. Kevin Crust of the "Los Angeles Times" noted that Brosnan and Neeson made 'fine adversaries;' however, Michael Rechtshaffen of the "New York Times" thought that they were 'hard-pressed to inject some much-needed vitality into their sparse lines.'

Brosnan's upcoming projects include "Butterfly on a Wheel" and "Married Life". Pre-production has started on "The Topkapi Affair", the sequel to the 1999 film "The Thomas Crown Affair". The sequel will use Eric Ambler's novel "The Light of Day" and the 1964 adaption, "Topkapi" as a basis. In December 2005, Brosnan was reported to be attached to star in "The November Man", an adaption 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 will join Meryl Streep in a film adaption of the ABBA musical "Mamma Mia!". He will play Sam Carmichael, one of three men rumoured to be the father of lead Amanda Seyfried. Streep will play 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.'

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 seasons 12-14 of "Thomas and Friends", replacing Michael Brandon in North America and Michael Angelis in the British Isles and Australia. Actor and director Danny DeVito has stated that Brosnan will join Dakota Fanning and Morgan Freeman in his adaption of the 1990 novel, "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle". He will play 'Zachariah, the ship's cook, surgeon, and carpenter.'


Brosnan married Australian actress Cassandra Harris in 1980 and adopted her two children, Charlotte (b. 1971) and Christopher (b. 1972) after their father died in 1986. Brosnan and Harris had one son together, Sean (b. 1983). Harris died of ovarian cancer in 1991, after eleven years of marriage. In 2001, Brosnan married American journalist Keely Shaye Smith, and they have two sons, Dylan Thomas (b. 1997) and Paris Beckett (b. 2001). In February 2007, Brosnan pulled out of attending the IFTA Awards ceremony in Dublin due to his stepfather's serious illness.

On September 23, 2004, Brosnan became a naturalized citizen of the United States, but he has retained his Irish citizenship. Brosnan has 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.' He currently resides primarily in Malibu, California and has homes in Hawaii and North Dublin.

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, Brosnan was named 'Best-dressed Environmentalist' in 2004 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 DC to help Greenpeace draw attention to the issue. 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 also successfully fought the Cabrillo Port Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility that was proposed off the coast of Malibu; the State Lands Commission eventually denied the lease to build the terminal. Pierce is also listed as a member of the controversial 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's 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 at Live Earth. He also recorded a television advertisement for the cause, which is available to view on his (official website) . He was honoured in Berlin with the Golden Camera award for both artistic achievement and environmental activism.


'Ex-Bond takes on darker roles'. (Nov. 6, 2005). "New Sunday Times", p. 29.

External links

(Pierce Brosnan's official website)


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