Pierce Brosnan is best known for his role as James Bond, the character who seems to know how to handle anything. But in reality, the actor has lived a challenging life and faced many difficulties. From being abandoned by his father as a boy to tragic losses throughout his life, Pierce has overcome to find success and happiness.
Beginnings of Acting Career
Pierce began his career in the late 1970s acting in London’s theater season. The legendary playwright Tennessee Williams was one of the first to spot his natural talent and picked him to star in one of his plays called The Red Devil Battery Sign.
By the early 80’s he began transitioning into film, one of the first being The Long Good Friday starring Helen Mirren. He also starred in a mini-series that introduced him to audiences in America. The show was called The Manions of America and the show centered around a family of Irish immigrants fleeing a famine and their home country and seeking refuge in the United States.
From the beginning, Pierce was faced with hardships. His father, who was a carpenter that initially supported his family, abandoned them when Pierce was too young to even remember, his mother was then forced to work as a nurse. Pierce ended up being raised primarily by his grandparents…
His mother moved to London to get a job and was only able to come home and see her son once or twice a year. Later, Pierce was able to be united with his mother and her new husband. However, his Irish mannerisms and culture caused him to feel ostracised at his new British school. But there was some respite in his family life, in fact, it was his step-father who took him to see his first James Bond film!
Pierce met Australian Cassandra Harris in 1977, he didn’t know at the moment, but the beautiful woman would become his wife. The couple married in 1980 and Pierce later adopted Cassandra’s two children from a previous relationship, named Charlotte and Christopher, after their biological father passed away in 1986.
Cassandra and Pierce also went on to have a son of their own named Sean. however, their familial bliss was not long-lasting. In 1987, Cassandra became very ill and was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Four years later Pierce’s wife Cassandra passed away at the age of forty-three. She left behind three children and Pierce continued to care for them.
After his success in The Mansions of America, his popularity was slowly but surely beginning to grow. Eventually, all of London was talking about him, and he was even nominated for the Best Supporting Actor at the 1985 Golden Globe Awards.
He was nominated for his portrayal of Robert Gould Shaw II, in the theatre documentary of the life of Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in British Parliament. As his popularity grew, he received a telegram his stepfather sent to him which said, “Thank God for you, dear boy” which he still has today.
It was one of Pierce’s late wives dreams to have him play the role of the 007 agent. She herself had a major role alongside Roger Moore’s incantation of the character in For Your Eyes Only. It was on this set that Pierce first met Bond producer Albert Broccoli.
Very few know this, but already in 1987, he was offered the role of James Bond. But he surprisingly decided to stay with the sitcom Remington Steele. Timothy Dalton instead took on the role for two separate Bond films.
How Diet Coke Helped Pierce
Pierce stayed away from talking about his offer of playing Bond, mainly because Dalton was one of his closest friends. Yet, after an issue with Diet Coke commercials portraying Pierce as a “dashing bond-like character” as well as in television shows, Bond producers had an issue with distribution rights which led to the cancellation of the Dalton’s third Bond film.
After all the drama, Dalton decided he would rather not be part of the franchise anymore. So, finally, in 1994, Pierce officially signed on for his first Bond role.
Pierce went on to star in multiple Bond films, fulfilling his first wife’s dream. He starred in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. It was this iconic role which catapulted pierce into major celebrity status and caused him to become a household name. Pierce also formed a production company with their first film being the Thomas Crown Affair which he starred in alongside Renee Russo.
In 2005, Pierce ended his Bond tenure with Daniel Craig taking over the role but many argue that remains the best and most iconic Bond portrayal of all time. Even the famed late critic Roger Ebert enjoyed Pierce’s version of Bond saying that he made the character, “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete” than other versions and past castings for Bond.
Injury During Tomorrow Never Dies
Yes, Bond is full of action, but you would think since stuntman do all the dangerous stunts the actors would avoid injury? Not in Brosnan’s case! During the filming of Tomorrow Never Dies, Brosnan sustained quite the injury. While filming an action scene, a stuntman’s helmet accidentally flew off and hit Brosnan right in the face. This split the side of his face open, and he needed to receive 8 stitches in total.
Since the injury was visible on his face, for certain parts of filming they had to shoot the movie only showing one side of his face until the wound had fully healed. You would think they’d just use a makeup artist, right?
Pierce Was An Exception
Pierce was the only Bond actor who was given permission to act in another movie while still in Contract for James Bond. This also meant that he was the only one allowed to make a little money on the side, even though he didn’t need it.
However, when it came to the tuxedo, the rules were a bit more strict. He was forbidden to wear a tuxedo in others movies or even in his private life because that was technically James Bond material. The first time he donned a tux post-Bond was in the film The Mirror Has Two faces, only a year after completing his first Bond film.
Working With Roman Polanski
In 2010, Pierce worked with the infamous director Roman Polanski on the film The Ghost Writer, alongside Ewan McGregor. It was quite the risky career move as many actors were criticized for working with the director who, after being famously charged for assault and rape of a thirteen-year-old girl in the 1970’s, is unable to come back to the States without being prosecuted.
He later fled the U.S. in order to avoid being prosecuted. Polanski has also faced much tragedy in his personal life. Roman survived the Holocaust as a child by hiding in a farmhouse, and his wife Sharon Tate and unborn child were murdered in the Charles Manson murders.
In 2013, tragedy struck once again for Pierce when his adopted daughter, Charlotte, fell ill and passed away after suffering from the same illness that took the life of her mother- ovarian cancer.
Pierce was so affected by the disease which claimed two women he loved in his life, that he began to participate in different causes such as Stand Up 2 Cancer, where he discussed losing his first wife and daughter to the horrible disease. He has said of the horrible experience, “To watch someone you love have his or her life eaten away bit by bit by this insidious disease, that part of your sorrow becomes an indelible part of your psyche.”
In 1994, Pierce found love once more when he met journalist Keely Shaye Smith. The couple married in 2001 in Pierce’s home country – Ireland. They went on to have two sons together named Dylan and Paris. Keely has worked on a variety of TV programs including Unsolved Mysteries, Good Morning America, and Entertainment Tonight.
The two have been married for fifteen years, and it all started when they met on a beach in Mexico! The couple seems to have remained as in love as ever. The pair continued to raise Pierce’s children from his first marriage together. Pierce is also now a grandfather to three children!
Keely Shaye Smith, Pierce’s current wife, experienced the crueler side of the media when it seemed she put on some weight. Gossip magazines tore into her new figure, however, despite the cruel remarks the journalist remains undeterred and Pierce remains fully committed and equally in love with his wife.
It is something to be in awe of- a Hollywood legend who did not fall to the temptations which the entertainment industry is so famous for. Rather, these two seem to have beaten the ridiculous expectations of Hollywood and remain in a happy marriage with Pierce often posting publicly about how lucky he is and the love he has for the woman in his life!
Helping Out in Hawaii
Brosnan and his wife, Keely, use their influence and wealth to support causes they feel passionate about. They donated $100,000 to replace an unsafe playground at an elementary school in Kuai, where they also own a home. The money was donated to Hawaii’s non-profit organization 3R’s (Repair, Remodel, and Restore Hawaii’s public schools).
Keely Brosnan was on the playground planning committee and the couple knew they wanted to help in some way. Pierce stated that “We were disheartened that the playground equipment was condemned for so long, and we wanted to find a way to help…we believe play activities enhance children’s educational experiences and they were missing out.”
2016 was another challenging year for the star and his family. Brosnan’s $18.5 million eco-friendly Malibu home, sustained major damage in a fire. Although California has been the subject of many brush fires, this was not the case. Authorities determined that the fire was electrical in nature.
Not only did it cause over a million dollars in damages, but it destroyed Pierce’s beloved Astron Martin. The whole family was home when the fire raged, but luckily no one was injured.
Mary Tyler Moore Connection
Mary Tyler Moore passed away at the age of 80 in January 2017. Few knew the connection between Moore and Brosnan until he took to Instagram to express his condolences for the death of the TV legend and revealed an interesting connection is that Mary Tyler Moore’s production company MTM Enterprises was the production company that produced Remington Steele.
Pierce said on Instagram that Mary Tyler Moore was responsible for giving him his big break in the United States with the show and that he would be forever grateful to her for giving him a chance.
Pierce Is a Trained Illustrator
We have come to learn that Pierce is a man of many many talents, and being a trained illustrator is one of them. Brosnan also loves to paint and donates all the profits of his sold work to charity. Before he decided on acting, he went to art school and trained to be an illustrator.
Although he put it on the back burner after deciding to pursue acting full-time, he continues to express himself artistically until today.
He’s An LGBTQ Ally
Pierce Brosnan is very philanthropic, regularly donating to various charities and working with groups he believes in. The actor is an Ambassador for UNICEF and has been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community and an advocate of same-sex marriage for decades.
He has even voiced his support for making a 007 film where James Bond is gay saying, “Sure. Why not?” Don’t get too excited though. Brosnan added, “Actually, I don’t know how it would work. I don’t think Barbara would allow a gay Bond to happen in her lifetime. But it would certainly make for interesting viewing.”
He Thought He Was Gay
Brosnan released a biography in the early 2000’s, one of the most interesting parts describes how at a point in his youth, he thought he may be gay. Brosnan writes: “I was young, frivolous and full of abandon – a hippie with long hair down to my shoulders and a little goatee beard,”
However, despite being an active advocate for gay marriage, he came to understand that he himself is straight… we could have guessed judging by the fact that he has been married to his second wife, Keely Smith since 2001.
Pierce Brosnan the Director?
While he may not have the official title, Brosnan is known to give his directors advice on his character which they often take! Next time you watch The World Is Not Enough pay special attention to James Bond’s hands. In the iconic film’s underwater scene, if you look closely, you’ll notice Brosnan adjusts his tie while submerged.
Although this little detail is subtle, it makes a big difference in the film.
Father and Son Reunited
Due to Pierce’s great success on the television show Remmington Steele, he became a household name which caused his father to reach out and ask to meet while he was filming in Ireland.
When they reunited, his father apologized and regretted meeting him on that particular occasion, and wished that they could have met in a more private and serious setting. But they still got to share a drink, some stories, and then parted ways. He said that what he remembered about the meeting was that his father was a good whistler and he had a good walk…that’s about all I know about him.”
He Watched James Bond As a Kid
Long before Pierce Brosnan starred as James Bond in GoldenEye in 1995, he was a fan of the franchise! The first movie he ever watched as a child in Ireland was the original Goldfinger in 1964. He was just 12 years old!
Fast forward three decades later and Bronson was starring in the same franchise he once watched as a young kid—only this time playing James Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough.
He Plays the Ukelele
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, yet another talent… Brosnan also has a musical ear and can play the ukulele. He became interested in the ukulele after spending time in Hawaii.
He learned how to play and has even been featured in advertisements for Komoa brand ukeleles. “I love the ukulele. It’s got a beautiful, melodic tone to it. There’s something innocent and romantic, and it’s just a grand instrument to play,” Brosnan said.
He Loves Working With Independent Filmmakers
Pierce Brosnan has an impressive resume, having acted in over 70 movies, 10 television series, and even a handful of video games. But despite his roles in big films, his favorite movies in to act in may just be the smaller, independent roles.
“I love the intimacy and the passion and the danger that go into independent filmmaking because it comes out of a creative necessity,” Brosnan said. “It comes from people who really want to make a movie and want to make a difference and want to grab an audience by the gullet and show them something different.”
Pierce was raised Catholic and still holds the faith until this day. However, he is not opposed to letting other religions influence his way of living. to other religious influences- Buddhism, in particular, is close to his heart. When Pierce was interviewed by the New York Dailey News regarding the loss of his wife and daughter he claimed that Catholicism is something that he credits with getting him through those tragedies.
He credited his strength to his beliefs, saying, “I would say faith, being Irish, being Catholic. It’s ingrained in my DNA.” Although, Pierce also previously criticized the religion because he blamed it for ostracizing his mother in the 1950’s after his father abandoned them after Pierce was born. He still credits the religion for his faith and said that he enjoys the ritual of it.
Pierce and his wife Keely are environmentalists and use their wealth and influence to help and donate to organizations such as Greenpeace, to which he lent his name and face to their fight against nuclear testing, he and his wife also volunteered for the Natural Resource Defence Council and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Pierce is also vocal about his stand against whale hunting, he uses one of his hobbies, painting, for charity work and the money he makes from selling his art pieces always goes to a charity that will assist one of his causes.
He Became a U.S. Citizen In 2004
Despite being one of the most well-known actors in Hollywood, he only became a resident of the U.S. in 2004! Born in Drogheda, Ireland, he lived in Navan, County Meath for 12 years and says he considers that his hometown.
Brosnan moved to various locations around Ireland during his teenage years eventually relocating to London with his mother and stepfather. Only in 1982 did the actor move to Southern California where he soon rose to popularity for his role in the NBC romantic detective series Remington Steele. Today, he has dual citizenship in Ireland and the U.S. and owns homes in Kauai and Malibu.
He Really Crashed the Car In Shattered
In 2007, Shattered was released. The film follows Chicago residents Niel Randall (Gerard Butler) and his wife, Abby Randall (Maria Bello) who seemingly have the perfect life and marriage. But when their daughter is suddenly kidnapped by Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan) their world is turned upside down.
The movie is action and suspense packed. One scene involved a car crash in which Brosnan was actually in the car during the crash! The stunned reaction from, the actors caught on camera is very very real.
1996 was the year for new projects for Brosnan. He co-founded a production company which he fittingly called “Irish Dreamtime” as a tribute to his country of birth with his producer and friend Beau St. Clair. The first film they produced was Thomas Crown, in which Pierce had the main role.
In the movie, Pierce made the risky decision to perform every one of his stunts himself. He also took golf lessons for one scene in which he hits a ball out of the sand trap. His hard work and dedication paid off- the film was met with both critic and box office success!
We often hear about the weird and wonderful jobs people had before they were famous and Pierce is one of them. Before going into acting, he was a fire-eater! Brosnan left school at only age sixteen, he came across a fire-eater who was teaching people his craft and started to learn.
An agent from a circus saw Pierce’s fire-eating skills and contracted him for three years. Finally, Pierce joined the Drama School London where he started to dedicate himself to the field of acting… but Pierce could have been a famous fire-eater.
White Bond Only?
Pierce recently made headlines for some questionable statements he made. He claimed that he believed that Bond would have to be a white male. This was in response to the rumors that the new Bond would be black or even female. Some rumors particularly named the British Idris Elba as being rumored to take on Bond.
Pierce said that while anything is possible, he believes that the next Bond will be white. He said that black actors could definitely play James Bond, and “there’s no reason why you cannot have a black James Bond.”But he draws the line when it comes to females stating that a female James Bond would be out of the question because “he’s all male.”
Honors From Other Countries
In 2003, Pierce Brosnan received a major honor given by none other than the Queen of England. Pierce was made an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire. The Queen endowed him with this award because of what was said to be an “outstanding contribution to the British film industry”.
This honor, which is usually reserved for British citizens only, was still given to the 007 agent. Pierce also became a citizen of the country of which he resides – the United States – in 2004. However, he did not give up his Irish citizenship.
James Corden Claims
The Late-Night Show with James Corden is always fun and games, but sometimes some real juicy gossip about certain celebs are revealed. When Corden hosted Khloe Kardashian the two played the game “Spill Your Guts”, in which Corden discussed a run-in he had with Brosnan.
The rules of the game are that you either answer the question or eat something repulsive (like fish eyeballs). When Corden was faced with answering which famous person was rude to him or drinking bird saliva, he made his choice and names Pierce Brosnan as the one celeb who was rude.
A U2 Run-In
The story of the encounter occurred when Corden went to a U2 concert with his wife and friends. Pierce was also there with some friends and they left the area so Corden and his wife moved into where Pierce was previously.
But then Corden recounts what happened next- “literally, I’ve never felt anything like it, this arm went on here and just pushed me out the way. And I looked at him, and he didn’t even glance at me and he just moved back into this area.” However, despite this incredibly rude encounter, Corden insists “I don’t think he’s a rude man, he just happened to be to me.”
Watching Pierce Brosnan playing the harrowing role of James Bond, you may think this actor fears nothing! However, Pierce is just as human as us and has his own irrational fear- small spaces.
The actor is very claustrophobic, which made filming different movies he has been in very challenging for him. His role in Dante’s Peak was especially difficult since he had to film numerous scenes in tight, cramped spaces.
His Facial Scar
Lots of actors and actresses have stunt doubles so they don’t get hurt on the job and can maintain their movie star good looks. Pierce Brosnan had a stunt double, but things didn’t exactly go according to plan during filming.
Next time you watch Pierce Brosnan in a film after his James Bond days, look closely at the star’s face. While filming Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Bronson was accidentally hit in the face by a stuntman. The accidental hit by stuntman was strong enough to leave the actor with a permanent scar.
Before Brosnan even starting filming his first Bond film, he had his first injury. He injured his hand at home, which forced his 22-year-old son, Christopher, to act as his hand double!
Acting Was His Salvation
Although Pierce is talented in many fields, acting remains the closest to his heart, he learned acting for three years at the Drama Centre in London and described the feeling “When I found acting or when acting found me, it was liberation. It was a stepping stone into another life, away from a life that I had, and acting was something I was good at.”
His Own Worst Critic
Brosnan aims for perfection and does not shy away from criticizing his own movies or performances. Although his fourth Bond films, Die Another Day, was a box office hit, he himself criticized many aspects of the film.
Video game Star
James Bond infiltrates all aspects of society, even video games! Brosnan’s face was used in the Bond videogame ‘Nightfire’ in 2002 while the voice was provided by Maxwell Caulfield. In 2004 he took part in another Videogame, this time providing his face and his voice!
A Simpsons Star
His voice is so rich and well-recognized, many animated films and series tried to get him to voice characters. In fact, Brosnan lent his voice to a machine in an episode of the TV series The Simpsons titled Treehouse of Horror XII.
His Crush on Meryl
When Brosnan signed for Mamma Mia, he did not know anything about the project. He later stated that the possibility of having Meryl Streep as a co-star was enough for him to know he wanted to be in the film. He claims to have fancied the gorgeous blonde since Drama School!
Praise After Praise
Brosnan is never short of praise for his performance in films. Although he was nervous to break off after his time playing James Bond, in his first movie post bond, Laws of Attraction, his performance was praised as “surprisingly effective, gently rifting off his James Bond persona and supplementing it with a raffish energy,” by Garreth Murphy of Entertainment.ie.
An Impressive Net Worth
The years of acting in hit films, as well as his other projects including producing and being involved in video games have garnered Brosnan quite the net worth. It is said he has a net worth of $80 million.
Before acting as James Bond, Pierce actually acted in a spy movie titled The Fourth Protocol in 1987, alongside Michael Caine. The film was a British Cold War spy film with Pirce Brosnan as a KGB officer by the name of Major Valeri Petrofsky who is sent on a mission to the United Kingdom to set up what looks like an accidental nuclear disaster.
This role was pretty important as it helped him create the kind of character he would later portray in the Bond films. During the film he constructed his own version of what it means to be an undercover spy.
Sexiest Man Alive
With his smoldering eyes and high cheekbones, it is not hard to believe that he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2001. He also appeared on several other lists of the hottest and sexiest people alive, and at 65, he still kind of has it!
Annetta Bening’s Co-star
A fun fact: Brosnan co-starred with Anette Bening twice, although he does not have a big part in either movie. One movie is Mars Attacks – a sci-fi/comedy by director Tim Burton and the second one Love Affair, a romantic piece starring Bening and Warren Beatty. Pierce was famously fired from the 007 franchise and pushed Daniel Craig to take the infamous part.
Next: What about his Bond gadgets?
Although his Bond career came to an end, Pierce continued acting in various films and projects, including Laws of Attraction, After the Sunset, and The Matador. Perhaps most publicized was his return to his theater roots when he starred alongside Meryl Streep in the film version of Mamma Mia.
He even displayed his singing abilities in the musical, which took guts considering he has no background in the art! But critics did not give the actor an easy time about his vocal abilities… Some critics even compared his singing to sound like various animals like a water buffalo, a donkey, and a wounded raccoon. Talk about harsh
In 2006, Pierce was cast as Gideon in the film Seraphim Falls alongside Liam Neeson, a fellow Irishman. The casting of this Western film took an ironic turn when the two Irish men Liam Neeson and Pierce both played Americans while the American actor Xander Berkely played an Irishman in the film.
It was a great experience for both Brosnan and Neeson since Brosnan noted that both he and Neeson really enjoyed shooting the film because they both loved Westerns as a kid, and this was their chance to be a part of one. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released to theatres in limited release in the U.S. grossing $418,296 in domestic ticket sales.