Pierce Brendan Brosnan OBE (born 16 May 1953) is an Irish actor, film producer, and activist. In addition to being an Irish citizen, Brosnan is a naturalized American citizen. After leaving comprehensive school at age 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, then went on to train at the Drama Centre in London for three years. Following a stage acting career he rose to popularity in the television series Remington Steele (1982–1987), which blended the genres of romantic comedy, drama, and detective procedural. After the conclusion of Remington Steele, Brosnan appeared in films such as the Cold War spy film The Fourth Protocol (1987) and the comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).
In 1994, Brosnan became the fifth actor to portray secret agent James Bond in the Eon Productions film series, starring in four films from 1995 to 2002 (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day). He lent his likeness for Bond in the video games GoldenEye 007, James Bond 007: Nightfire and James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, providing his voice for the latter. During this period, he also took the lead in other films including the epic disaster adventure film Dante's Peak (1997) and the remake of the heist film The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). Since leaving the role of Bond, he has starred in such films as the musical/romantic comedy Mamma Mia! (film) (2008), the Roman Polanski-directed political thriller The Ghost Writer (2010) and the action spy thriller The November Man (2014).
In 1996, along with Beau St. Clair, Brosnan formed Irish DreamTime, a Los Angeles-based production company. In later years, he has become known for his charitable work and environmental activism. He was married to Australian actress Cassandra Harris from 1980 until her death in 1991. He married American journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith in 2001, and became an American citizen in 2004, holding dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland. He has earned two Golden Globe Award nominations, first for the television miniseries Nancy Astor (1982) and next for the dark comedy film The Matador (2005).
Brosnan was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, the only child of Thomas Brosnan, a carpenter, and May (née Smith, born circa 1934). He lived in Navan, County Meath for 12 years and considers it his home town. He went to St. Anne's Primary School, Navan. Brosnan's father abandoned the family when Pierce was an infant. When he was four years old, his mother moved to London to work as a nurse. From that point on, he was largely brought up by his maternal grandparents, Philip and Kathleen Smith. After their deaths, he lived with an aunt and then an uncle, but was subsequently sent to live in a boarding house run by a woman named Eileen.
According to Brosnan,
Brosnan was brought up in a Roman Catholic family and educated in a local school run by the de la Salle Brothers while serving as an altar boy.
Brosnan left Ireland on 12 August 1964 and was reunited with his mother and her new husband, William Carmichael, now living in the Scottish village of Longniddry, East Lothian. Carmichael took Brosnan to see a James Bond film for the first time (Goldfinger), at the age of 11. Later moving back to London, Brosnan was educated at Elliott School, a state comprehensive school in Putney, southwest London, now known as Ark Putney Academy. 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 Saint Martin's School of Art. While attending a rehearsal for a workshop at the Oval House, a fire eater was teaching people how to eat fire and he decided to join. 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 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."
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 (billed as "Pierce Brosman"). 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". In 1977 he was picked by Franco Zeffirelli to appear in the play Filumena by Eduardo De Filippo opposite Joan Plowright and Frank Finlay.
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 in 1982 with the BBC's 9-part miniseries Nancy Astor (which aired in America on Masterpiece Theatre) that dramatised the life of Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in British Parliament. His portrayal of 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 and James Clavell's Noble House both in (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. The pilot never aired, however. In 1993 he played a supporting role in the comedy film Mrs. Doubtfire. He also appeared in several television films, including Victim of Love (1991), Death Train (1993) and Night Watch(1995), a spy thriller set in Hong Kong.
James Bond (1994–2005)
Brosnan first met James Bond films producer Albert R. Broccoli on the sets of For Your Eyes Only because his first wife, Cassandra Harris, had been cast as Countess Lisl von Schlaf, mistress to Milos Columbo. 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 Simon Templar in The Saint. Brosnan denied the rumours in July 1993 but added, "it's still languishing there on someone's desk in Hollywood."
In 1987, NBC cancelled Remington Steele. Brosnan was offered the role of James Bond, but the publicity improved Remington Steele's ratings and it was renewed, requiring Brosnan to contractually return to the show, this caused Eon Productions to have to look elsewhere for the new 007. The producers instead hired Timothy Dalton for The Living Daylights (1987), and Licence to Kill (1989). While Brosnan was reluctant to discuss losing the Bond role, in part because Dalton was a friend, he appeared in Diet Coke commercials portraying what the Los Angeles Times described as "a dashing Bond-like character", and NBC advertised Noble House with Brosnan dressed in a Bond-like tuxedo. Legal disputes between the Bond producers and the studio over distribution rights resulted in the cancellation of a proposed third Dalton film in 1991 and put the Bond series on a hiatus for several years. After the legal issues had been resolved, Dalton decided not to return for a third film. On 7 June 1994, Brosnan was announced as the fifth actor to play Bond.
Brosnan was signed for a three-film Bond deal with the option of a fourth. The first, 1995's GoldenEye, grossed US $350 million worldwide, the fourth highest worldwide gross of any film in 1995, making it the most successful Bond film since Moonraker, adjusted for inflation. It holds a 78% Rotten tomato rating, while Metacritic holds it at 65%. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, saying that Brosnan's Bond was "somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete" than the previous ones, also commenting on Bond's "loss of innocence" since previous films. 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."
In 1996, Brosnan formed a film production company entitled "Irish DreamTime" along with producing partner and longtime friend Beau St. Clair. Brosnan and St. Clair released Irish DreamTime's first production, The Nephew, in 1998. One year later, the company's second 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, receiving mixed reviews similarly to the former two, but was a success at the box office. Brosnan himself subsequently criticised many aspects of his fourth Bond movie. 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, playing a wide range of roles, ranging from a scientist in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, to the title role in Grey Owl which documents the life of Englishman Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, 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. At that time, Brosnan was approaching his 50th birthday. Brosnan kept in mind that both fans and critics were very unhappy with Roger Moore playing the role until he (Moore) was 58, but he was receiving popular support from both critics and the franchise fanbase for a fifth instalment. For this reason, he remained enthusiastic about reprising his role. 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 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 (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. He also starred along with Jamie Lee Curtis and Geoffrey Rush in The Tailor of Panama in 2001, and lent his voice to The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XII", as a machine with Pierce Brosnan's voice.
Since 2004, Brosnan has talked of backing a film about Caitlin Macnamara, wife of poet Dylan Thomas, the title role to be played by Miranda Richardson. 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, neurotic assassin who meets a travelling salesman (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexican bar. The film garnered generally 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. In 2006, Brosnan narrated The Official Film of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, directed by Michael Apted.
In 2007, Brosnan appeared in the film Seraphim Falls 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." During the same year, Brosnan spoke of making a western with fellow Irish actors Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney. In that same year Brosnan starred as Tom Ryan in Butterfly on a Wheel. The film was released in the United States under the name of Shattered, and in Europe as Desperate Hours.
In 2008, Brosnan joined Meryl Streep in the film adaption of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia!. He played Sam Carmichael, one of three men believed to be the father of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), while Streep played Sophie's 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." Brosnan's singing in the film was generally disparaged by critics, with his singing compared in separate reviews to the sound of a water buffalo, a donkey, and a wounded raccoon. In September 2008, Brosnan provided the narration for the Thomas & Friends special The Great Discovery. He was originally set to narrate for both US and UK from Season 12 and onward, but withdrew from it for unknown reasons.
In 2009, Brosnan finished the well-received The Ghost Writer, playing a disgraced British Prime Minister, directed and produced by Roman Polanski. The film won a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. He starred as Charles Hawkins in the film Remember Me and as Chiron in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, both released in 2010. In 2012, Brosnan played the role of Philip in the Danish romantic comedy Love Is All You Need.
In February 2013, Brosnan was awarded honorary patronage of the Dublin University Players society at Trinity College, Dublin. He also starred opposite Owen Wilson in No Escape, playing a "heroic government agent". Brosnan was slated to star in Last Man Out, a crime film adapted from Stuart Neville's novel titled The Twelve (released as Ghosts of Belfast in the US) by Craig Ferguson and Ted Mulkerin, with director Terry Loan at the helm. However, it never came to fruition after years in development, and Brosnan is no longer attached to the production.
In 2013, Brosnan appeared in television commercials as a tongue in cheek version of himself to promote the launch of Sky Broadband in Ireland. In 2005, Brosnan was reported to be starring in The November Man, an adaptation of Bill Granger's novel, There Are No Spies. but the project was cancelled in 2007. After its cancellation, Brosnan's production company, "Irish DreamTime" resurrected The November Man in 2012 with an announcement made on his part that he was jumping back to the spy arena. Filming took place in Serbia a year later, with Brosnan in action as a retired CIA operative called Devereaux, alongside co-star Olga Kurylenko in a supporting role. The film was received negatively, with a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 38/100 on Metacritic. In 2015, he appeared alongside Milla Jovovich in suspense thriller movie written by Phil Shelby, called Survivor, which began filming in January 2014, with Charles and Irwin Winkler producing, and James McTeigue directing. Brosnan later starred in a revenge thriller called I.T., which was released in September 2016, in a limited release and through video on demand.
Brosnan replaced actor Sam Neill in the role of Eli McCullough in a television miniseries adaptation of Philipp Meyer's novel The Son, with Kevin Murphy serving as both executive producer and showrunner of a ten-episode miniseries, which began production in June 2016, and aired in 2017. In 2017, Brosnan starred in The Foreigner, opposite Jackie Chan, as a former IRA man turned government official, Liam Hennessy. The Foreigner was filmed in London, and was directed by Martin Campbell, who previously worked with Brosnan on his debut James Bond film, GoldenEye. It was noted that Brosnan's character bore a strong resemblance to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
In 2018, Brosnan co-starred with Guy Pearce and Minnie Driver in a mystery thriller film called Spinning Man, based on George Harrar's novel of the same name. He later reprised his role as Sam Carmichael in the sequel to Catherine Johnson's Mamma Mia!, entitled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, along with the rest of the cast members from the first film.
Brosnan is set to appear alongside Dave Bautista in Final Score, which is set to come out on Sky Cinema sometime in September 2018.
Brosnan will collaborate with director Martin Campbell for the third time on yet another film, which itself is an adaptation of an Ernest Hemingway novel, Across the River and into the Trees, in which Brosnan will play the role of the protagonist, Colonel Cantwell.While the project is indeed the next one on both of their schedules, however, Campbell unveiled that at one point, the production was almost shelved due to financial problems.
He later joined Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy in a film based on the events of The Maze Prison Escape, titled H-Block which is to be directed by Jim Sheridan. Although, due to scheduling conflicts with both Brosnan and Murphy, the production was said to be postponed to March 2018, with Sheridan pointing out the film's delay had nothing to do with financial regards to the film but two of the lead actors, thus leading to Murphy bailing out while Brosnan remaining in his scheduled role.
Alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Vanessa Redgrave, Brosnan is set to appear in a historical period piece based on a novel by Jonathan Miles, entitled The Wreck of The Medusa, set against the backdrop of the early 19th century during King Louis XVIII's reign in France, with the film to be directed by Peter Webber.
In July 2017, a rumor sparked that Brosnan was linked to an upcoming video game entitled Shadow Stalkers produced by 3D Realms, though his role in the project is undisclosed as of yet.
Environmental and charitable work
Brosnan has been an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland since 2001 and recorded a special announcement to mark the launch of UNICEF's "Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS" Campaign with Liam Neeson. Brosnan supported John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election and is a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage.
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 Hannahsuccessfully fought the Cabrillo Port Liquefied Natural Gas facility that was proposed off the coast of Malibu; 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 Conservation Society's Board of Advisors.Brosnan was named 'Best-dressed Environmentalist' by the Sustainable Style Foundation in 2004.
Brosnan also raises money for charitable causes through sales of his paintings. After Brosnan left school, he pursued a career in art and began working as an illustrator. "I always wanted to be an artist, a painter. I started as a Trainee Artist in a small studio in South London." A colleague suggested that Pierce attend a theatre workshop, and eventually he abandoned his artwork to pursue a career in acting. Brosnan took up painting again in the late 1980s during his first wife's illness as he found it therapeutic. "Sometimes dramatic moments affect the way you see yourself in the world…from a very hard time in my life, I started painting again and out came every color I could imagine." Citing his influences as Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard and Kandinsky, Brosnan spends much of his free time between film shoots in front of his easel. "I am self taught, an enthusiastic painter as a friend of mine likes to say." 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 house. 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 and on the island of Kauai.
Brosnan married twice, was widowed once and has five children and three grandchildren. Brosnan met Australian actress Cassandra Harris through her stepson David Harris, one of Richard Harris's nephews, in 1977, 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 bought a house in Wimbledon. They married on 27 December 1980 and had one son together, Sean, who was born on 13 September 1983. They lived with her children, Charlotte (1971-2013) and Chris, and after their father Dermot Harris died in 1986, he adopted them and they took the surname Brosnan.
Brosnan supplemented his income by working in West End productions and in a television film about Irish horse racing. After Harris appeared in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only in 1981, they secured a bank loan and moved to southern California where Brosnan secured a role in the TV series Remington Steele, easing their financial worries.
An episode of Remington Steele that was filmed in Ireland generated significant publicity. One outcome was that Brosnan met his father, who had left when Brosnan was an infant, in a brief get-together at his hotel. Brosnan said he expected to see a very tall man, but described 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." Brosnan was regretful that they met under such public circumstances. He said he would have preferred more private arrangements that would have given him the opportunity to speak privately with his father.
While filming The Deceivers in Rajasthan, India, in 1987, Brosnan's wife Harris became seriously ill. She was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died on 28 December 1991 at age 43. Brosnan struggled to cope with her cancer and death. "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." Harris had always wanted Brosnan to play the role of James Bond, and in 1995, four years after her death, Brosnan was given the role in GoldenEye.
In 1994, Brosnan met American journalist Keely Shaye Smith in Mexico. They were married in 2001 at Ballintubber Abbey in County Mayo, Ireland. They have two sons together, Dylan and Paris.
In July 2003, Queen Elizabeth II made Brosnan an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire 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, but he is still allowed the letters "OBE" after his name. In 2002, Brosnan was also awarded an honorary degree from the Dublin Institute of Technology and, a year later, the University College Cork.
On 23 September 2004, Brosnan became a citizen of the United States but 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."
Brosnan has expressed contempt for his education by the Christian Brothers. However, in 2013 he commented, "It always helps to have a bit of prayer in your back pocket. At the end of the day, you have to have something and for me that is God, Jesus, my Catholic upbringing, my faith... God has been good to me. My faith has been good to me in the moments of deepest suffering, doubt and fear. It is a constant, the language of prayer... I might not have got my sums right from the Christian Brothers or might not have got the greatest learning of literature from them but I certainly got a strapping amount of faith." Brosnan attends Mass, but adheres to other spiritual beliefs. In 2008 he said "I also love the teachings of Buddhist philosophy. It's my own private faith. I don't preach it, but it's a faith that is a comfort to me when the night is long."
Brosnan's daughter Charlotte died on 28 June 2013 of ovarian cancer, the same illness that claimed her mother's life.
On February 11, 2015, Brosnan's $18 million Malibu mansion caught fire, sustaining $1 million in damages. During the 30 minutes it took firefighters to extinguish the fire, flames destroyed the contents of the garage, including Brosnan's 2002 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, and spread to a bedroom above it, though no injuries were sustained.
In February 2018, Brosnan was threatened with a two-year jail sentence for appearing in an Indian advert advertising a concoction including tobacco, which is illegal to advertise in India.