Pierce Brosnan – James Bond V
Pierce Brosnan was the fifth actor to take over the tuxedo and star as James Bond, remaining as the world’s most love Secret Agent for four films from 1995 to 2002.
Fewer actors can embody the debonair charm and coolness quite like him, making him a shoo-in for Bond producers. In fact, he was earmarked to succeed Roger Moore as Bond, but due to other commitments, he couldn’t do it and so Timothy Dalton was cast as 007 for The Living Daylights (1987).
Eight years later, Pierce Brosnan became 007, and his first film GoldenEye (1995) was hugely successful, and set the tone for the Irish Bond’s reign. He followed it up with courtly grit in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999), and Die Another Day (2002) before hanging up his Walther PPK.
Brosnan was a relatively unknown actor before taking over from Dalton, enjoying some small roles in British and Irish TV, and some British and Hollywood movies. His Bond career propelled him to the big stage, however, and since he has enjoyed an illustrious career, while also dedicating much of his time to numerous charities.
In this bio post, we will dig deep into the Irish actor’s life before, during and after James Bond, probing his successes and failures to see what has made Pierce Brosnan the man he is.
Pierce Brosnan – Life Before Bond
Pierce Brosnan is best known for his role as James Bond in the film franchise starting in 1995, but his life prior to that was just as interesting and varied.
Brosnan was an only child, born on May 16, 1953, in Drogheda County Louth, Ireland. His early life was marked by turbulence, as his father left the family when he was just an infant, and his mother moved to London to work as a nurse.
After this, he was brought up brought up by his grandparents in County Meath. After they passed away, Pierce Brosnan then lived with his aunt and uncle before being sent to live in a boarding house until he was 11.
In 1964, he moved to Scotland to live with his mum and her new husband. The family then moved back to London, where Brosnan spent the last years of his schooling. He then went to the Drama Centre London to train as an actor for three years.
After his 1975 graduation from the Drama Centre, Brosnan began working as a stage manager at the York Theatre Royal before winning his acting debut in Wait Until Dark.
A few other theatre castings ensued, and then in 1979 he made his television debut in the show Murphy’s Stroke. Parts in Hammer House of Horror and The Professionals followed before he won his first film casting, a non-talking part in British gangster flick The Long Good Friday (1980).
Parts in other TV shows and films followed, including 1992 film The Lawnmower Man where he played scientist Dr. Lawrence ‘Larry’ Angelo, and then a year later as Stuart ‘Stu’ Dunmeyer in Mrs Doubtfire.
In 1980, Pierce Brosnan married actress Cassandra Harris, who later starred as Bond girl, Countess Lisl von Schlaf in For Your Eyes Only (1983). Brosnan adopted Harris’ two children and they had another, but tragically Harris passed away after a battle against cancer, in 1991, before Dalton’s career really took off.
Pierce met American journalist and TV presenter Keely Shaye Smith in 1994, and the two married in 2001. They have 2 children, making that 5 in total for the former Bond star. Unfortunately, Bond’s eldest daughter, Charlotte, passed away after a brave fight against Ovarian Cancer, like her mum.
Pierce Brosnan – James Bond V
Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of James Bond in the 1995 film GoldenEye was a critical and commercial success, quickly establishing him as one of the most iconic actors to play the legendary secret agent.
The film sees Bond up against former 00-agent Alec Trevelyan, who is out to destroy the legacy and economy of Britain, after feeling let down by his government.
After a six-year break, there was a big turnaround with the film’s cast. And Brosnan was tasked with reinventing the iconic character for a new generation of moviegoers, after some negativity around Timothy Dalton’s darker and more grounded approach.
He rose to the challenge with ease, delivering a memorable and dynamic performance, bringing charismatic charm to the role, while adding fresh sophisitication and modern edge to the classic Bond persona.
GoldenEye was a major hit both at the box office and with audiences, grossing over $350 million worldwide and receiving praise for its thrilling action sequences, impressive special effects, and well-crafted Cold War themed storyline.
The film’s explosive opening scene and other high octane action sequences, added with a star-studded cast ensured we could enjoy a memorable film.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies tends to fly under the radar, often overlooked in discussions about James Bond films. It was the second time he was cast as Bond, and wasn’t his and certainly wasn’t his worst, but it’s a good film and has some classic scenes in it.
Brosnan’s pre-credits sequences were always a highlight of his time as Bond, and Tomorrow Never Dies featured one of his best. The adrenaline-pumping action, in which Bond prevents a nuclear catastrophe, set the tone, but unfortunately the film didn’t keep with that pace.
The film may not have maintained the same level of intensity, but it had everything necessary for a Bond movie night. Brosnan enjoyed the flirty moments, arguably more than any other Bond, and had three such moments in this movie.
In one early scene, he’s in bed with an Oxford Danish professor, claiming to be “brushing up on my Danish” while in Oxford. Later, he reignites his old flame Paris Carver with M’s blessing. Brosnan had his fair share of Bond girls, but they were not as readily available to him as they were his predecessors.
007’s mission with Chinese Agent Wai Lin was as intense as they come, and the motorcycle chase while they were handcuffed together was a highlight. Saigon was bustling on a Sunday morning, let alone in the middle of the afternoon while Bond was attempting to ride a motorcycle with his hands bound to someone else, all while a helicopter was firing at them. It was an enthralling scene, made even more exciting by the added dimension of the handcuffs.
Another standout moment was when Bond used the remote control BMW. Action scenes are a staple of Bond films, but they need to be inventive to stand out. The producers and Brosnan achieved this with the car’s security and gadgets, allowing Bond to drive from a distance and even lie down on the back seat while viewing the display on his cell phone. Impressive for a 1990s cell phone, to say the least.
The World Is Not Enough
The World Is Not Enough was Brosnan’s third film four years. And the Irish 007 showcases his prowess as the iconic secret agent, effortlessly embodying Bond’s suave, sophisticated, and ruthless persona.
In the 19th instalment of the Bond franchise, Brosnan’s 007 faces his first lead female villain, Elektra King played by Sophie Marceau. While there have been numerous henchwomen in previous films, King takes center stage as the primary antagonist. True to form, Brosnan’s Bond employs his charm to seduce her, but she ultimately remains committed to her nefarious plans.
Brosnan’s Bond is no stranger to wielding machine guns, and The World Is Not Enough features its fair share of thrilling shootouts. Although Brosnan’s sophistication is widely recognized, his skills in action and chase sequences are often underrated.
One memorable scene involves a high-speed boat chase along the River Thames, setting the stage for an adrenaline-fueled adventure, and the way Cigar Girl takes her own life is somewhat shocking for a Bond film.
Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of Bond never falters, even in the face of criticism for the film’s convoluted plot. His unwavering performance in The World Is Not Enough is a testament to his dedication to the character and his ability to consistently deliver as James Bond.
Die Another Day
Die Another Day was Brosnan’s last outing, even if he didn’t know it at the time, and with a stellar cast that included Halle Berry and Madonna, it didn’t quite live up to his first two films.
Of course it wasn’t all bad. Pierce Brosnan always offered a grande old showing and the movie starts with promise, as 007 is arrested in North Korea and endures harrowing torture for 14 months. He’s later released in a prisoner exchange, and once back in London Bond confronts allegations of divulging state secrets.
Subsequently, Bond embarks on a covert mission to reveal the individual responsible for framing him. Although the plot is captivating, certain exaggerated gadgets, such as the face-changing technology used by the villain (portrayed by British actor Toby Stephens and Korean-American Will Yun Lee), add a touch of absurdity to the storyline.
Bond’s pursuit leads him to the treacherous Miranda Frost, brilliantly played by Rosamund Pike. One of the highlights of Brosnan’s tenure as Bond is his undeniable chemistry with his leading ladies. The interactions between Frost and Halle Berry’s character, Jinx, provide some genuinely enjoyable moments for the audience.
All in all, Die Another Day will never be anybody’s the best of all Pierce Brosnan Bond films, but it’s worth watching again, and it ends with one of the most head fake scenes when Bond gets it on with Moneypenny, kind of. If you can’t remember, you have to watch it again.
Life After Bond
Pierce Brosnan’s career after Bond is just as impressive, so let’s take a look at selection of these. His first roles in 2003 saw him star Evelyn and After the Sunset, and a year later he starred in and produced Laws of Attraction.
It was his next film, The Matador, that cemented Brosnan’s place among the big names in Hollywood. Playing the role of Julian Noble, a jaded assassin, Brosnan received accolades and was earned a nomination for a Golden Globe for his stunning performance.
Brosnan continued to take on diverse and challenging roles, including in Seraphim Falls alongside Liam Neeson and he also starred in the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! alongside Meryl Streep – even trying his hand at singing, much to the amusement of critics. Not deterred, Brosnan reprised the role for the sequel Mama Mia! Her We Go Again in 2018.
In 2009, Pierce Brosnan starred in the well-received The Ghost Writer, and in 2010, he appeared in Remember Me and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. After that, he went on to star in the rom com Love is All You Need, the suspense thriller Survivor, and the revenge thriller I.T.
Brosnan was no stranger to TV either, replacing Sam Neill in the role of Eli McCullough in the series The Son, which ran for two seasons. He also starred alongside Jackie Chan in The Foreigner as a former IRA man turned government official.
He got back into musicals in 2021, starring as The King in romantic musical Cinderalla. Brosnan has alos lent his voice to several documentaries and animated films, including Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery and Riverdance: The Animated Adventure, and several James Bond video games.
Pierce Brosnan’s range and talent have made him a sought-after actor and has starred in movies every year since leaving the role of Bond. And with such a wide and varied portfolio, it shows he’s much more than James Bond.
Outside of acting, Pierce Brosnan has been a prolific philanthropist, serving as a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador since 2001. He collaborated with Liam Neeson to record a special announcement for the launch of UNICEF’s “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS” Campaign.
In the 1990s, Brosnan actively supported Greenpeace’s efforts to end nuclear testing by participating in news conferences in Washington, D.C., even boycotting the French premiere of GoldenEye to show his opposition to French nuclear testing.
Alongside his wife Cassandra Smith, Brosnan joined forces with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) from 1997 to 2000 to prevent the construction of a salt factory at Laguna San Ignacio.
Brosnan also supports charitable causes through his paintings, as he has a background in art.
Pierce Brosnan – The Irish Bond
Pierce Brosnan has had a remarkable career. After a tough upbringing, the Irishman made it big as an actor and producer, appearing in dozens of films, television shows, and theatre productions.
His charm and good looks made him one of the most iconic figures in entertainment today, and his four Bond films offer some of the most iconic scenes throughout the whole franchise.
He has been unlucky in his personal life, but the philanthropic actor continues to plough on, and lucky for us viewers he continues to work.
He’s even previously discussed the idea of coming back to the bond scene but to play a villain. Yes please!