Brosnan may not enjoy the publicity process, but in the midst of this
year’s chaotic Toronto International Film Festival, the 49- year-old Irish
superstar was feeling relaxed and in good spirits.
Perhaps it’s because he was recently married and managed to spend a week vacationing in Hawaii with his new bride. Looking tanned and elegant, the actor was sporting a smart, blue suit and a carved necklace. “A great Hawaiian carver gave it to me there last week. I think after 11 months of filming, you know, I deserved a break,” he says smilingly.
Brosnan is only too aware why the press is keen to talk to the actor about Evelyn, the little Irish film he was promoting in Toronto of which he is both star and producer. Bond, James Bond. The actor knows that without one, the other would not exist.
| “I don’t
think they would have made it, not if I hadn’t had Bond under my belt as
bankability,” asserts Brosnan who describes the latest Bond adventure as
“Simply fantastic. I think the best of mine to date.”
In Die Another Day, Bond circles the world in his quest to unmask a traitor and prevent a war of catastrophic proportions. Of course, there are Bond girls — Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike — and his deadly villain Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and right-hand-man Zao (Rick Yune). Brosnan adds that this time around the film has far more of a linear plot to it. It also has some very sexy moments with co-star Halle Berry, so sexy in fact, that rumor has it that one major sex scene could be cut or toned down. Brosnan hopes not. “I’ve been out of the loop for six weeks, so I’m just catching up on this, I mean, the scene is pretty tame, in many respects, compared to something like Monster’s Ball. I mean it’s just Halle and I rolling around on top of each other.”
He does believe that this Bond has a harder edge to it than its predecessors. “Lee Tamahori (the director) is a pretty on the nose director and we went for it in the confines of what you can do in a Bond movie.”
Times have changed since James Bond appeared on screen in the early sixties. The Cold War that was symbolic of Bond for two decades has been replaced by a harsher dose of reality with the advent of terrorism and September 11 still fresh in our consciousness. Given those events, Brosnan reflects on how Bond fits into the world of post 9/11. The actor is dismissive. “After September 11, I wondered what the producers were going to do and the effect they would take on this film. I didn’t really have in-depth conversations with them about it, but Bond is such a fantasy, it’s entertainment and the blood is not real in a Bond movie, although the body count is popping up all over the place. It’s not so graphic that you are repulsed by it so I doubt that there was much discussion really.”
Pierce Brendan Brosnan was born in Navan, County Meath, Ireland on May 16, 1953. He moved with his family to London in 1964 where he remembers one of the first films he saw was Goldfinger. His adolescence was tough “I had a very strong Catholic upbringing,” Brosnan recalls. “I was in mass, in the choir, and taught by Christian Brothers and nuns.” He admits that experience shaped his experience and life. “It knocks your confidence. That I should be an actor always amazes me, getting up in front of so many people. There was a great shattering of confidence at that age and then as a boy of 10 heading off to the great glorious comprehensive schools of London in the early ’60s makes you a fighter,” says Brosnan. “You have to survive. You have to nail yourself in kind of certain protective veils so to speak.”
After leaving school, Brosnan became a commercial artist but was introduced to acting by a co-worker who was in a theater group in the evenings. He left his job for the life of an actor, and entered the Drama Centre in London, where he studied acting for three years. Brosnan recalls being bowled over by landmark Hollywood films such as Bonnie and Clyde and, a bit later, Clint Eastwood’s seminal Dirty Harry.
After several years of stage work throughout the UK, he began to work in television and film. His “big break” came with the 1981 TV mini-series The Manions of America, which led to him getting the title role in the popular long-running detective series Remington Steele, which debuted in 1982.
He moved with his wife and children to Los Angeles, California, where Steele was filmed. The series was quite successful, running for more than four seasons and 92 episodes. It catapulted Brosnan to major stardom in the U.S. Rumors began as early as 1984 that Pierce would replace Roger Moore as the next James Bond. Due to contractual obligations, he was unable to accept the role when it was originally offered to him in 1986. Pierce remained busy as an actor despite that setback, making TV mini-series, theatrical films and made-for-cable movies, as well as several TV commercials.
On June 8, 1994, Pierce Brosnan was unveiled at a huge press conference in
London as the fifth 007. His first Bond film, GoldenEye, grossed over
$350 million worldwide, more than any other Bond film to that point. His
second Bond film, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, grossed more money in
the U.S. than GoldenEye. His third Bond film, 1999’s
The World is Not Enough,
had the largest opening weekend in James Bond and MGM studio history. It is
no surprise then, that Brosnan was able to set up his company, Irish
Dreamtime, in the offices of MGM, developing projects that allow him to
remain truly challenged as an actor.
When Brosnan’s not working, it is his wife — journalist Keely Shaye Smith — and two recent sons, 5-year old Dylan Thomas and 18-month old Paris Beckett, who are most important to him. Brosnan’s work takes him to the far corners of the globe and his family travels everywhere with him. “My kids are at a very portable age right now,” he says.
Next up for Brosnan is another strong departure from the exploits of 007. His company is developing a film based on the Walter Scott poem Lochinvar, which he happily admits “is a big old nut to crack.” But he won’t take the easy road by going the predictable and safe route of Hollywood’s mainstream, except when it comes to 007, he says with a glint in his eye.
As to Brosnan’s future as 007, he says, “the producers have told me the role is mine as long as I like. I think I could do at least one more but I also know there comes a time to bow out gracefully.”