He may have starred in a number of high profile Hollywood films since he began acting in the late 1970s, but Pierce Brosnan will always be best known for being the fifth actor to fill the boots of a certain British secret agent. Below are 10 fascinating facts about this talented Irish actor which we guarantee will leave you shaken and stirred.
10. He was raised by grandparents and an aunt and uncle
Brosnan’s father Thomas walked out on his family when Pierce was a young child, and when his mother moved from Ireland to London to work as a nurse, Pierce was brought up by his grandparents and later his aunt and uncle.
He was later sent to a boarding school, leading the adult Brosnan to recall that “childhood was fairly solitary… I never knew my father. My mother was very courageous. She took the bold steps to go away and be a nurse in England [and] came home once a year, twice a year.”
9. His nickname at school was ‘Irish’
At the age of ten Brosnan moved to London to be reunited with his mother and her new husband, where his nickname at school in Putney was simply ‘Irish.’
Being identified by the country of his birth meant that Brosnan never felt one hundred percent welcomed by his new friends. “You’re Irish, and they make you feel it,” the actor has been quoted as saying. “The British have a wonderful way of doing that, I had a certain deep sense of being an outsider.”
8. He had originally planned on pursuing a career as a painter
Brosnan left school at the age of 16 to pursue a career as a painter, training as a commercial illustrator at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London.
He soon caught the acting bug, however, so enrolled in London’s Drama Centre, a decision he later described as being “a stepping stone into another life, away from a life that I had.”
7. He made his name on stage in the UK and on TV in the US
Long before he was cast in the role of James Bond, Brosnan created quite a stir when he was selected by the playwright Tennessee Williams to appear on stage in The Red Devil Battery Sign.
Brosnan then moved to California and became a US TV star with his leading role in the miniseries The Manions of America, and later in the NBC crime series Remington Steele.
6. He was nearly cast as James Bond ahead of Timothy Dalton
Brosnan was initially offered the role of James Bond in the mid-1980s after his TV show Remington Steele was cancelled.
The news that Brosnan was to replace Roger Moore as 007 ironically caused Remington Steele’s viewing figures to rocket, leading to it being renewed. Unfortunately for Brosnan, he was contractually obliged to return to the show, so Timothy Dalton was hired to play Bond in his place.
5. It was another decade before he finally landed the Bond role
Brosnan had to wait nearly a decade to finally land the role of 007, when Timothy Dalton decided not to return for his third Bond film after legal disputes had put the series on hold for a number of years.
Brosnan’s first appearance as the secret agent was in 1995’s GoldenEye, and he would return to the role a further three times over the next eight years in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
4. He lost out to Joaquin Phoenix at the Golden Globe Awards
After his tenure as Bond ended, Brosnan starred in a number of high profile Hollywood films including The Matador, for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Unfortunately Brosnan lost out to Joaquin Phoenix, who won the award for his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line.
3. He admits that his Mamma Mia! singing “sounded dreadful”
In 2008 Brosnan sung his heart out alongside the likes of Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård in the film adaptation of the popular ABBA-based musical Mamma Mia!.
Different critics compared Brosnan’s singing in the film to the sound of a donkey, a wounded raccoon and a water buffalo, and the star himself later admitted that his rehearsals for the film in New York “sounded dreadful.”
2. He lost both his wife and his adopted daughter to cancer
Brosnan married the Australian actresses Cassandra Harris in 1980, and remembers that when they first met shortly after he left drama school he thought she was “a beautiful-looking woman,” but he “never for an instant thought she was someone I’d spend 17 years of my life with.”
Tragically, in 1992 at the age of 44 Harris lost her life to ovarian cancer, the same illness that would also claim the life of Harris’ daughter (and Brosnan’s adopted daughter) Charlotte in 2013.
1. He will soon be seen playing a DC superhero
In March 2021 Brosnan was cast as a superhero in the upcoming DC Extended Universe film Black Adam.
He will be taking on the role of Kent Nelson, whose super-powered alter ego Doctor Fate first appeared in DC comic books during the 1940s.