Navan, County Meath, Ireland, 16 May 1953; moved to London, 1964.
Left school at age fifteen; attended London Drama Centre.
Married 1) Cassandra Harris, 1977 (died 1991), one son, Sean, two
stepchildren, Charlotte and Christopher; 2) long-term partner Keely Shaye
Smith, 22 September 1999, one son, Dylan Thomas.
Worked for a time as a fire-eater and then a commercial artist; stage
debut, 1976; role in ABC-TV mini-series,
The Manions of America
, 1981; title role in
TV series (1982–1987); environmental campaigner for International
Fund for Animal Welfare since 1980s; set up production company, Irish
Dream Time, 1998.
Saturn Award for Best Actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Horror, and
Fantasy Films (U.S.A.), for
Tomorrow Never Dies
Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverley Hills, CA
The Mirror Crack'd (Hamilton) (uncredited); The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie) (as First Irishman)
Nomads (McTiernan) (as Jean Charles Pommier)
The Fourth Protocol (Mackenzie) (as Valeri Petrofsky)
Taffin (Megahy) (as Mark Taffin); The Deceivers (Meyer) (as William Savage)
The Heist (Orme—for TV) (as Neil Skinner)
Mister Johnson (Beresford) (as Harry Rudbeck); Murder 101 (Condon—for TV) (as Charles Lattimore); Victim of Love (London—for TV) (as Paul Tomlinson)
The Lawnmower Man ( Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man ) (Leonard) (as Doctor Lawrence Angelo); Live Wire (Dugnay) (as Danny O'Neill)
Mrs. Doubtfire (Columbus) (as Stuart Dunmeyer); Entangled ( Les Veufs ) (Fischer) (as Garavan); Death Train ( Alistair MacLean's Death Train ; Detonator ) (Jackson—for TV) (as Mike Graham); The Broken Chain (Johnson—for TV) (as Sir William Johnson)
Dangerous Pursuit (—for TV); Don't Talk to Strangers (Lewis—for TV) (as Patrick Brody); Love Affair (Caron) (as Ken Allen)
GoldenEye (Campbell) (as James Bond); Night Watch ( Alistair MacLean's Night Watch ; Detonator 2: Night Watch ) (Jackson—for TV) (as Mike Graham); Robinson Crusoe ( Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe ) (Hardy, Miller) (as Robinson Crusoe)
The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson (Megahy) (as himself); The Mirror Has Two Faces (Streisand) (as Alex); Mars Attacks! (Burton) (as Donald Kessler)
Dante's Peak (Donaldson) (as Harry Dalton); Tomorrow Never Dies (Spottiswoode) (as James Bond)
Quest for Camelot ( The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot ) (du Chau) (as voice of King Arthur); The Nephew (Brady) (as Joe Brady + pr)
The World is Not Enough ( Pressure Point ) (Apted) (as James Bond); The Thomas Crown Affair (McTiernan) (as Thomas Crown + pr); The Match ( The Beautiful Game ) (Davis) (as John MacGhee + pr); Grey Owl (Attenborough) (as Archibald Belaney/Grey Owl)
Dolphins (Freeman) (narrator); The Tailor of Panama (Boorman) (as Andy Osnard)
Interview with Caroline Westbrook in Empire (London), December, 1995.
"The Best Since Connery," interview with Ian Nathan, in Empire (London), October 1997.
"Nobody Does it Better," interview with Ian Nathan, in Empire (London), January 1998.
Membery, York, Pierce Brosnan: The Biography , London, 1997.
Ellis, Rosemary, "The Surprising Star of Remington Steele: Pierce Brosnan," in McCall's (New York), August 1984.
Kahn, Sheryl, "The Two Faces of Pierce Brosnan," in McCall's (New York), December 1996.
"Why Are They Famous?: Pierce Brosnan," in The Independent (London), 28 November 1999.
Jones, Alan, "Pierce Brosnan on James Bond," in Cinefantastique (Oak Park, Illinois), 1 December 1999.
* * *
Now best known in the role of James Bond, the playboy secret agent, Pierce Brosnan began his showbusiness career as a fire-eater before establishing himself in the 1970s as a stage actor in London. In the 1980s and 1990s, he built a career as a tough but dignified leading man, inheriting the role of Bond from Timothy Dalton in 1995, and becoming the fifth actor to play the spy in the long-running series. He has so far appeared three times as Commander Bond, and has been the key to a revival of interest in the films.
Born in Ireland, but raised from the age of eleven in London, Brosnan's early childhood was a troubled one. His father left the family when Pierce was a year old—the two were reunited in 1986—and when his mother went to London to train as a nurse, the child stayed in Ireland with his grandparents. Brosnan joined his mother in London in 1964, but left school at the earliest opportunity, aged fifteen. It was while working as a commercial artist in Harrods department store that he became interested in acting, and gave up work to enroll as a student at the London Drama Centre. Brosnan had some success as a stage actor, but it was in 1981, with the ABC mini-series The Manions of America , that his career began to take off. Playing the lead, Rory O'Manion, Brosnan was noticed by the producers of the detective series Remington Steele. With the encouragement of his wife, Cassandra Harris, who was a "Bond Girl" in For Your Eyes Only , the family moved to Los Angeles from London in 1982.
Taking the title role in the highly popular TV series Remington Steele , Brosnan became well known as the suave bachelor detective. Talking to Rosemary Ellis in 1984, he complained of being overlooked by casting directors who saw only the sophisticated smoothness of the character, and thought he must be a model rather than an actor. The similarities between Steele and Bond are obvious, and it was because of the success of Remington Steele that, in 1985, he was invited to replace Roger Moore as agent 007. Brosnan was keen to take up the offer, but contractual difficulties over leaving Remington Steele stood in his way, preventing him from making his anticipated break into film.
In the years that followed, Brosnan worked mostly on mediocre cable-TV film thrillers, and mini-series, although his performance as the Russian masterspy Valeri Petrofsky in a Michael Caine vehicle, The Fourth Protocol , was well received. Somewhat against form was a supporting role in the Robin Williams comedy Mrs. Doubtfire that marked an upturn in a career that seemed stuck in repetitive, though lucrative, action flicks. Two years later, when a new actor was needed for the role of Bond, Brosnan's wit and studied elegance again impressed producers, making him a popular choice. The three films in which he has appeared as Bond have been the most successful in the thirty-year history of the series, with the most recent, The World is Not Enough , also grossing more than any other film made by the studio, MGM.
Brosnan's second success of 1999 was The Thomas Crown Affair , a remake of the 1968 film of the same name starring Steve McQueen in the lead role. With Brosnan playing Thomas Crown, a billionaire businessman who turns to crime to relieve his boredom, and Rene Russo as the insurance investigator who pursues him, the later version updates the slick style of the earlier film, substituting the theft of a priceless Monet painting for the bank robbery of the original. As a result, Crown's motivation for committing the crime becomes more complex: only by stealing something beyond value can he escape the world of money with which he has become dissatisfied.
Since GoldenEye , Brosnan has become one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. The average gross of the twenty-one films in which he stars tops $40 million, while The World is Not Enough came in at a whisker under the magic $100 million. Yet perhaps because of his own background he remains a devoted father and family man. Although he has often spoken candidly about the intensity of his relationship with his first wife, who died of cancer in 1991, he has managed also to keep his private life separate from his life as a celebrity.
While Bond seems likely to be the role for which he is best remembered as an actor, Brosnan has also devoted a good deal of his time to campaigning for environmental causes and fundraising for cancer research. Since the 1980s he has worked to protect ocean habitat, and in particular whales and dolphins, from exploitation, and with his second wife, environmental journalist Keely Shaye-Smith, is involved with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Several of his recent film projects have an environmental theme. Richard Attenborough's less than impressive Grey Owl tells the true story of an English settler and conservationist who passed himself off as a Native American in the 1930s, and in 2000, Brosnan narrated Dolphins , an IMAX film which highlights environmental threats to dolphins and other sea creatures.