Bonding with Brosnan
"On the set of his new film, the "Sexiest Man Alive" talks to Susan Chenery about his revealing new role, the parents who abandoned him, his poverty-striken childhood and the death of his first wife.
The sexiest man alive is leaning carefully against a stone wall, jiggling his hands in his pockets and humming a secret song. It's a cold autumn Dublin morning and a disrespectful wind is molesting his laquered hair, mussing him up like some kind of elemental Irish joke. With a large, verticle quiff and heavy pancake makeup, it is somewhat difficult to maintain iconic cool. And it is clearly not all that easy to be suave in a cheap brown suit. Even for Bond. James Bond.
In his shrill plaid tie, standing in line at a catering van, you somehow expect the 007 music to cue in and follow Brosnan everywhere he goes. Maybe, thrillingly, the catering van will suddenly explode, black-clad assassins will leap out blazing away with Uzis and a luscious, leggy, partly clad woman will arrive in a helicopter to whisk him away to a luxurious island pad to have extremely suave and witty sex. Why, Mr Bond!
"You know when you are on a Bond set," he tells me. "It is so over the top, it is a whole other world. Everything is bigger." But Pierce Brosnan is not in Her Majesty's Secret Service today. There will be no incendiary conclusion to these activities; handled, naturally, with Bond flair and elan. Today he is Desmond Doyle, and it's 1953. Desmond Doyle is not licensed to kill. He can't even get a job. Doyle is merely fighting to save his children, who have been taken into orphanages by the church because his wife has left him.
There are so many eloquently sad Irish stories from those dark days. This film, Evelyn, is based on the true story of a down-and-out ordinary man who took on the mighty church and state to regain custody of his three children. And that Arctic wind that agitates down these worn old familiar streets is disturbingBrosnan's memories as his own lamentable childhood rushes back to greet him. It is there in the clothes of the extras who stand around in checked overcoats and headscarves, and it is there as a wailing small boy is wrenched from the anguished father Brosnan is playing and taken away in a black departmental car.
"I do remember the dress code," he says, shuddering, "and the poignancy of being a young boy in County Meath. It is all about family and church."
According to Amanda Scarano, who works for Brosnan's production company Iris Dreamtime, which is producing Evelyn, "This film is the closest thing he has done to his own life and his own humanity."
Brosnan's story is one of extremes; of tragedy and survival and staggering success. It is a story of wretched poverty and childhood abandonment in oppressed small-minded rural Ireland, a story that traverses the wide devide to later fame and fortune as a Hollywood icon.
Cut to Pierce Brosnan's trailer: The Sexiest Man Alive is sitting on a cluttered sofa, rolling a cigarette. We know he is The Sexiest Man Alive because US People magazine said so. Trouble is he can't find a match to light his cigarette and the heater won't work. "Pierce is not so suave confides Scarano. "He is really goofy, and he can't work gadgets, he can't work a computer or a video. He is a fun-loving and comedic person."
"Am I a dapper man in real life?" Brosnan briefly considers the question, deftly pulling loose tobacco from the end of his rollie. "Did you know I am the Sexiest Man Alive?" he trills in a country-cute Irish accent. "Well I am the Sexiest Man Alive. What do I think about that? It's a challenge, I'll tell you that. Really, you know." You can tell he is secretly quite thrilled about this, even as he ridicules it.
"There is only one woman I have to live up to. And that is my dearly beloved wife, Keely. She is the one I go home to, and fortunately she has a sense of humour as well. It is very flattering, of course it is, but you just take it with a pinch of salt and a lot of humour. It isn't something I was looking for at this point in my life. So at the fine old age of 48, nearing 50, bring it on. Really."
He is taller and rangier than than you might expect. And that face, with its fine features and high cheek bones that seems so ubiquitous and familiar, is more deeply aged and interestingly lined on close examination. There is a scar slicing into his top lip from a Bond-related accident that seems like an insult to such perfect alignment. The eyes are intensley blue.
The question is, are there any hidden depths to Brosnan? A fascinating dark side, perhaps, that has so far managed to escape his one dimensional public image? Even a personality would help. Apart from Bond, he always seems so blandly Brosnan in every movie. His clout in Hollywood is such that the studios fly him around in their own private planes, yet everyone who knows him describes him, yawn, as "a nice guy".
"We have a very normal life in Malibu, Keely and the boys (Paris, 11 months, Dylan Thomas, 4, Sean 17) and I," he says of the fact that he is recognised from pillar to pole. "We don't sequester ourselves away with bodyguards. We do our own shopping and pick up the dry-cleaning, take the children to the park and go to the pictures. We are part of the community. We are just mum and dad, a man and wife with children."
"It is a very simple business, being an actor. I deeply appreciate my good fortune and I have worked very hard at it. In this business, people guild the lily and posture, it is all an illusion, really. When people take stances and grandiose bearings you just want to say, "piss off", you know?" There, Pierce Brosnan thinks an unkind thought.
He seems such a good person that you sort of want to mess up his hair and dirty him up and make him sweat and do bad things. There was a certain satisfaction in seeing him covered in volcanic ash and overacting in Dante's Peak, as John Boorman also directed him to do in John Le Carre's The Tailor of Panama. Brosnan's character in last year's thoroughly English Central American spy caper (which also starred Geoffrey Rush). The British spy Andy Osnard was hot and sweaty, ruthless and dispicable. It was quite amusing seeing Bond break a sweat. "Bond sweats," he says defensively, but it is not that kind of sweat; it's well, a cool sweat."
"He welcomed being a villain," says Boorman. "He is always cast in heroic roles because he is so good looking. But really he is a character actor in a leading man's body. When he was required to say and do appalling things, he did it with absolute conviction. He is disciplined and prepared and dived in with both feet.
Growing up in Navan, County Meath, Brosnan never new his real father, who left when he was an infant. "I suppose that is why I enjoy family life and being the father I am." He reveres women probably because he had minimal contact with his mother, who went to England to work as a nurse, coming back only twice a year to visit. He lived with various relatives and when his grandparents died, and his relatives no longer had room for him, he moved into lodgings with a woman called Eileen in a poor part of town. "I moved upstairs with the lodgers, all grown men with jobs. We shared a long room with iron beds and old matresses."
But he seems to have none of the bitterness, self pity or insecurities he has a right to about being left alone to fend for himself without parental love.
"My mother was a very strong woman and she realised there was only one way out and that was to go to England, like a lot of women did. It was very courageous of her. It came with a lot of hardship for herself and myself, but it was the only way to get out of the small-minded mentality of a town in which everyone knew your business and the church knew your business. You were really yoked with this terrible shaming if you were divorced. It was a broken home but there were hilarious times as well."
He suffered cruelty at the hands of the Christian Brothers, but says he became an alter boy " because you got a new pair of plimsolls." Nevertheless, his innate Catholicism remains in the desire to help the needy and the fact that he seems to live in a state of grace. In conversation, Brosnan is considered and thoughtful. He speaks slowly, softly and carefully, in an accent that veers between Irish and American. He is gently and slightly distant. His trailer is a mess; there are pictures of his family everywhere.
I suspect he takes himself rather more seriously than he lets on. He seems to have taken it personally that the Richard Attenborough film Grey Owl, in which he played a fraudulent Indian chief in plaits with great intensity, was released straight to video. "It was kind of a great disappointment to me," he says. "I met Richard recently in the south of France, as you do. And he said it was a disaster, and I never actually pulled him up on it. I never actually said," Well, Richard, why was it a disaster? Were you conveying that I was a disaster?"
He is joking, sort of. Great success has a way of eradicating past hurts and the need for agonising reappraisal. But even now there is a part of Brosnan that will always be that boy, the outsider whose parents left him behind to survive in the lower social orders of a small town, and with a life long need to be liked. Without support he left school at fifteen.
"I never thought I was going to do anything with this old life of mine. I had dreams and aspirations and desires, um, but I have always been catching up on my education. I really had none when I was at school. I am a kind of autodidact, really, and that is a constant thing. It burns in me to this day because I get found. I find myself in the company of learned men and women and your shortcomings are just glaring you down. And you just have to nod and it just rankles in me."
Lying on the floor of Brosnan's trailer is a pair of lived-in RM Williams boots "They are 20 years old," he says. "my sister-in-law sent them to me." It is a reminder that for ten years he loved an Australian woman, Cassandra Harris, a former Bond girl in fact, to whom he was married. English journalist John Glatt recalls interviewing him at the beginning of his career when he was appearing in suburban Londan theatre: "He was very unassuming, he talked about his wife and how wonderful she was."
Brosnan's life broke apart when she died in his arms of ovarian cancer in 1991 after three harrowing years of operations and chemotherapy following her diagnosis. "I lost a friend and a very fine and beautiful woman...and a wife, Cassie, through this disgusting, insidous disease called cancer. She was my biggest champion, and to watch that life dwindle down and to see the heartache of my children...."he trails off.
His grief was deep and wide as he struggled to be both parents to her two children, Charlotte and Christopher (now 29 and 28), as well as their son Sean.
"That was the biggest challenge of my life, being a single parent," says Brosnan."They have turned out well, but it is constant. It is a constant battle trying to bring children up and keep them on the straight and narrow."
Last year, Sean nearly died in a car accident at the hands of a drunk driver "he is doing fine now, he is in really good shape. He has been through a terrible ordeal but it could have been a lot darker, thank you for asking."
Brosnan was still mourning two years after Cassie's death when he took Sean then ten to Mexico for the American Oceans environmental campaign. Television journalist, Keely Shay Smith was interviewing the American actor Ted Danson when she felt somebody staring at her. Pulses raced and it was only a matter of time before the Hello! magazine extravaganza wedding with ice sculptures and fireworks in Ireland last year.
"I certainly wasn't looking for any relationship. I had been through enough of them and I thought the hell wiht it, I will just have a nice time being alone. And there was this beautiful girl. Over three days we got to know each other a bit and when we got back to California, we hooked up. And there goes the story. She has opened up a whole world to me, of the environmental movement. Which I was kind of aware of and kind of dabbled in, and now, suddenly, I have become this environmentalist."
There is a hectic buzz in the cobbled streets outside a forbidding rain stained granite building with black gates. By late afternoon. there is the kind of cold in that menacing wind that makes your back ache and the yellow leaves fly past.
Pierce Brosnan comes down the steps clutching three children and falls screaming to the ground as police take them from him."Nooooo," he shrieks like a wild animal, trying to hold onto the children as a howling crowd surges around him. These are the law courts, and Desmond Doyle has lost the first round of court battles for custody of his children. The scene is so powerful that I find tears in my eyes.
Laconic Australian director Bruce Beresford is moving through the crowd. With his baggy face sagging under a fur hat, he looks a bit like a walrus."Pierce is great," he effuses. "Total pro. Knows everything. Very knowledgable about film and how it works. He is a very good actor."
This month, Brosnan is back to the high-tone world of the elegant 007, making his fourth Bond film, Beyond the Ice, with director Lee Tamahori on a six-month shoot. "It is a very demanding role, it is relentless," Brosnan says. "And it is usually the little stuff that you think is of no consequence where you trip up and break something or get your face cut open. But it has been the most glorious time playing him."
It has been reported that this will be his last Bond film, that he is hanging up the tuxedo. "My contract is up; whether it is the last one remains to be seen," Brosnan says. " I would go at it again, yes. I would go on for as long as I could possibly, physically, do the role."
Jmes Bond has consumed
He recalls the momentous day it was announced he would be 007. "I
going to a hotel in London. There were 600-plus members of the media.
was huge. Banks and banks of cameras. I woke up the next morning and
paper has me as a child, my old girlfriends, my family. And that
feeling mixed in with elation was knowing that life had
I wonder what James Bond does to relax, when he is not, you know, busy saving the world. "He has lots of massages, I think," says The Sexiest Man Alive. "Alcoholic rubs. And martinis. And he does a lot of shagging. Oh, he just lives a good old life."
January 22, 2002 You may know that at the end of last year Pierce Brosnan was voted the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. At the time this seemed like another of those meaningless poll findings. OK, so his Bond has a certain flinty-eyed charm, his Thomas Crown was cool as a vat of cologne and, in the Tailor of Panama, he proved that, at the age of 48, he's still got a torso to rival Hollywood's best (Brad Pitt excepted).
But, none the less, Pierce is sexy like St Bruno rough cut, like Dormeuil man - sexy if your definition of sexy involves driving gloves and three-piece tuxedos. Given that the dinkiest of actors bulk up on screen, in reality Brosnan is guaranteed to be neat, manicured and a little bit naff, right?
Actually, wrong. For a start, Pierce Brosnan is 6ft 1ins. For another, he is perfectly ordinarily dressed in loose jacket and black jeans (not a tasselled loafer or suede blouson in sight). The thick, dark hair which, in pictures, looks suspiciously as if it might be dyed, is greying at the temples and the voice, which could be on the transatlantic side, what with him living in Malibu and being married to American eco-journalist Keely Shaye Smith, has a seductive Irish lilt - more pronounced, perhaps, because we are on Dublin soil, where he is currently filming 30 miles from the town where he was born.
In short, Pierce Brosnan is, contrary to the laws of celluloid, a lot better in the flesh. But then, this image has been steadily worked at and refined over a couple of decades, since Brosnan was cast as Remington Steele in the early Eighties. "I went to America to do edgy filmwork and I got this goofy, lovely TV show and I used it to the best of my advantage," says Brosnan, giving me the twisted smile that M is so often on the receiving end of, narrowing his eyes in that special way, as if the light is troubling him.
"Remington could be anybody, so I created this look. I said it should be three-piece suits and French cuffs and played it with pace. There wasn't anybody like me at that time."
Long before he created the smooth Remington style, Brosnan's first and biggest challenge was reinventing himself as a local boy when his mother brought him over to London in 1964:
"Oh, yeah, I was one of the lads, I was sarf London, y'know, but somehow I felt different. All my mates were going off to be painters or plumbers, but I kind of invented myself to be a commercial artist, and then I found acting and invented myself to be ..." Brosnan tails off at this point, as he has a habit of doing. Another habit is running through his mental thesaurus ... "When I found acting I found a certain refuge ... sanctuary ... home ... sense of belonging," which tends to spiral into epic voice-over territory "the joy and pain of growing up in an environment such as Ireland in the mid-Fifties - I could put that to good use."
What he invented, of course, was the suave image that was to make him a natural candidate for Bond (some would say that Brosnan's steely interpretation is the more effective and true to the original than Connery's). This month he starts shooting his fourth Bond film, seven years after his first outing in Goldeneye. "Is it my last? I don't know, I'd like to think not." Of course, there's always Robbie
Williams who has expressed an interest in stepping into Bond's shoes. Brosnan laughs a heh, heh clipped laugh. "I dunno - you do have to do a bit of acting in it, there are a few moments when you have to look as if you know what you're doing." Still, what both performers share (Robbie with his recent attempt to ape Frank Sinatra) is the desire to be an iconic class act, and Brosnan has cultivated the charisma to make it happen. It's tempting to wonder how much of an overlap there is between Brosnan's image and that of his most famous character.
"I have a couple of BMWs and many sharp suits, but they stay at home in the wardrobe in mothballs," he says. "I live much more simply than that." But he admits that the role of the smooth operator Thomas Crown in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, which he co-produced, was consciously remoulded for him - merging his history and Bond's style (in his version, Crown started out as boxer in Ireland). "Steve McQueen was great in the original - but there was a slight chink in the armour in the sense that McQueen never really sat well in suits, and that world."
Now Brosnan is back in his producing chair for Evelyn, a true story set in Fifties' Dublin about a working-class Irishman fighting for custody of his children, a project that's rumoured to be particularly "personal" to him. Brosnan's father abandoned him as a baby and his mother was forced to leave him behind while she looked for work but none the less there's a whiff of familiarity about the theme. "It's not autobiographical. I just happen to be Irish, I happen to come from a broken home, blah blah - which I've spoken far too much about, gave it all away like I was in the confessional box. I identified with the Irishness of the story. I identified with being a father with his struggling for his family."
When pressed for details of his treatment at the hands of the Christian Brothers, Brosnan shrugs. "My childhood wasn't that harsh - there were rather beautiful moments to it as well, growing up on the River Boyne, y'know."
Besides his childhood, Brosnan has also spoken frequently about the suffering he and his family experienced when he lost his first wife to cancer. She died 10 years ago, leaving Brosnan to raise their son, Sean, and to adopt her two children, Christopher and Charlotte. Since then he has had two children with Shaye Smith, whom he married last year. During the course of the 45-minute interview she phones him twice and sends one written message - whether or not this has anything to do with the fact that they met when she interviewed him on the subject of eco tips is anyone's guess. Whatever the case, he enjoys the female attention that comes with fame: "Oh, the girls are out there. Oh, it's great," he says lapsing into full Dublin brogue. "I can flirt with the best of them," he flashes one of his better gritty looks. "You can run amok with it all. There's been times ..."
For now, he's too busy. Besides Bond, this month Brosnan is putting his weight behind the forthcoming production of Phaedra by a theatrical company close to his heart, Concentric Circles, of which he is a patron. The show opens tonight in Colchester and comes to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith later this month. Brosnan may return to the stage himself in time, but for now he's happy being the hard man in the bespoke suit.
"I'm comfortable in the suits, I'm comfortable out of the suits. I'm comfortable with who I am, where I am, I've wished for it, I dreamed it, I worked for it ..." You get the picture.
Phaedra is at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester until Saturday, box office: 01206 573 948. It transfers to the Riverside Studios from 30 January until 9 March, box office: 020 8237 1111.
'Does it feel weird being back here?" This question and its many variations have been exchanged like business cards between returning attendees of this year's Toronto International Film Festival who were shattered, drained and marooned here by the events of last Sept. 11, struggling to get back home any way they could.
With or without such festering memories as an emotional backdrop, it has felt weird being here this year. For one thing, it's been excessively hot and sultry. (Yes, they do have Indian summers in the Great White North, but you don't expect Canadian Septembers to feel like Louisiana Julys.) It's seemed as if every hotel elevator in town has been suffering from heat exhaustion, each taking its sweet time to get from floor to floor, making both media grunts and major stars roll their eyes in dismay.
While the 300-plus films being shown here aren't that much more than a year ago, the sheer mass of movies has felt weightier. There seemed so much to choose from the wide, thick assortment of major studio elephants, doughty independents and eclectic foreign fare that attendees could - and some did - lose their composure figuring out what to take in or pass by. And even after you settled on a choice, the turnouts were such that if you showed up at the last minute, you couldn't be assured of a seat.
Otherwise, how weird has this year's festival been? Well, consider that the most likely candidate for the festival audience's favorite film is a documentary on violence in which the only voice of sanity and reason belongs to ... Marilyn Manson. Yep, Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" seems to have registered the loudest, longest reverb of any Toronto Film Festival feature. As with everything else Moore has done since 1989's "Roger and Me" (which had likewise gotten its biggest push into prominence from that year's Toronto festival), "Bowling for Columbine's" polemical-satirical inquiry into America's gun culture has been condemned and embraced for its unchecked passion and vitriolic humor.
Moore, pounding the drum for his film all over town, was as unapologetic for his excesses as he was pugnacious toward his critics. At a press conference, he took a roundhouse swing at the forthcoming New York Film Festival for passing on "Columbine." He has a point. Whether one likes Moore or not (and he's nowhere near as levelheaded as Manson is in this film), the festival could have - and has - done much worse for an opening-night selection. There were some grumblers who maintained Toronto audiences love the movie so much because it lauds Canada for being, in Moore's view, more civilized than the United States. Some Canadians quibbled with Moore's sanguine portrait. Which seemed only TO prove Moore right, but let's move on.
As usual, the major Hollywood studios used the Toronto festival to showcase their fall line. "Frida," Julie Taymor's biopic with Salma Hayek as the libertine Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, drew big crowds but no real critical consensus pro or con. Same for "Auto Focus," Paul Schrader's biopic with Greg Kinnear's career-enhancing performance as ill-fated TV star Bob Crane.
Midway through the festival one gleans buzz potential from such disparate items as "Evelyn," Bruce Beresford's Irish drama starring Pierce Brosnan as a poor but doting single dad fighting to keep his kids; "Spider," David Cronenberg's trip into the head of a schizophrenic, and "Max," which stars John Cusack as a German Jew who makes friends with a bitter World War I vet named Adolf Hitler.
Somehow I missed those, but I did see "8 Mile," Curtis Hanson's "work in progress" that's due in November. Its public screening last Sunday was the closest thing to providing a pop-cultural epicenter, since, as some of you have heard, Eminem makes his movie-acting debut in it as a trailer-trash kid from Detroit's outskirts trying to spread his wings as a rap genius. Think "Purple Rain" with a grimy Rust Belt veneer and you get the basic idea. Most viewers were inclined to reserve judgment until they saw the finished product, but almost all were impressed with the kid's "screen presence."
Other stuff I saw and liked: "Lost in La Mancha," an arch, painfully honest documentary about Terry Gilliam's quixotic efforts to film "Don Quixote"; "The Good Thief," Neil Jordan's cunning remake of "Bob Le Flambeur," with Nick Nolte as a junkie gambler going for the Perfect Score; "The Man Without a Past," Aki Kaurismaki's droll, winsome tale of an amnesiac's reversal of fortune; "Unknown Pleasures," Jia Zhang-ke's ruminative exploration of Chinese teenage wastelands, and "Talk to Her," Pedro Almod—var's tender tale of devotion. (Those last three are all slated for the New York Film Festival.)
And a couple of unexpected pleasures to mention: "Bollywood/Hollywood," Deepa Mehta's shrewd, surprisingly laid-back musical comedy about love and marriage in an Indian household. (If "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" had half of this movie's dry wit and lower volume, I'd like it almost as much as the rest of America does.) And there's "Assassination Tango," in which Robert Duvall directs himself as a hit man dispatched to Buenos Aires who finds himself enraptured by the tango and entrapped by his duplicitous employers.
TORONTO -- Many critics said the Toronto International Film Festival offered a healthy crop of good, but not great, movies. That qualifies Toronto, which concluded yesterday, as a success; for any festival to have more watchable features than artistic misfires is an exception.
The disputed line between good and great was embodied in Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, starring Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid. Haynes' thorough job of re-creating the Technicolor melodramas of the late 1950s prompted a heated debate over whether he is a great filmmaker or a great mimic.
A few works earned more of a consensus: Australian Phillip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence, the simple tale of an aborigine girl (Everlyn Jampi) who wants to go home, tugged the heart strings without manipulation.
Frida justified Salma Hayek's seven-year quest to get it made. In Julie Taymor, Hayek found the right director to bring the actress' portrayal of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo to life. When Hayek arrived on the set, she said, "I was so fragile and emotional about everything, like a pregnant woman about to give birth."
Major movie factories kept their Oscar tub-thumping from sounding tinny. Disney's Moonlight Mile showed there is still room for the life-affirming Hollywood drama. Perhaps the reason this one works is that director Brad Silberling wrote it from the heart. Silberling's fiancee, actress Rebecca Shaeffer, was stalked to her death in 1989.
In Moonlight Mile, a
(Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to make a life with his in-laws-to-be (Susan
and Dustin Hoffman) after his bride is murdered. The 65-year-old
found the material compelling enough to return after a self-imposed
absence from the screen.
Warner Bros.' White Oleander made the chick flick palatable for both genders. Michelle Pfeiffer downplayed Oscar hype for her performance, mentioning the criticism that her prison-mama character stays too pretty while behind bars. Robin Wright Penn and Renee Zellweger injected star power in supporting roles. Alison Lohman, playing Pfeiffer's daughter who's shuffled from one foster home to another, was one of the festival's brightest newcomers.
Phone Booth heralded a pleasing change of pace from Joel Schumacher. The Batman & Robin director took one setting, a Times Square phone booth, and sustained the tension throughout a sleazy publicist's battle of wits with a sniper. Offscreen, Phone Booth hunk Colin Farrell kept Toronto buzzing with his reported forays into a strip club.
One prominent actor tried to spread his wings. Pierce Brosnan scuttled James Bond for an ordinary man in 1950s Ireland who fights for custody of his children in Evelyn. "I try to look for that because I have to," Brosnan said, "or otherwise they'd have me doing pale imitations of Bond. I was trained as an actor to play many different roles."
The reaction to Evelyn was mixed, but Brosnan's personal connection to the material is apparent. He was a widowed single father for years, after the 1991 death of his first wife, actress Cassandra Harris.
Greg Kinnear, who has subsisted on light supporting roles, polarized opinion with his portrayal of the late actor Bob Crane in Auto Focus. Crane earned minor celebrity for Hogan's Heroes and major headlines for making home movies of his sexual exploits before his murder.
Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things strayed from the comfort zone with rousing impact. Imagine a story set in London without one British character and a plot hinging on an illegal organ-transplant ring in a seedy hotel. Frears brought the elements together in fine style.
When a Turkish immigrant played by Audrey Tautou (Amelie) tells a Nigerian immigrant, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, that she loves him, it carries the rare ring of truth.
A neophyte director, Denzel Washington, adhered to the basics. Washington trained the camera on his eponymous subject, Antwone Fisher, and let the feel-good story unfold without calling attention to his Academy Award-winning self.
Makers of the Sept. 11-based movies should have taken a lesson from Washington. Both The Guys, about a fire captain eulogizing his fallen charges, and 11'9"01, a French-produced collection of shorts, tried to say too much.
All the build-up to the
anniversary of the attacks could not have helped. Give the world's top
filmmakers another year to digest the tragedy and then let 'em loose
Most of the best movies about Pearl Harbor and other calamities weren't
made until years later.
Arriving at 7:30 Friday night at the Chicago Theatre, a dapper Pierce Brosnan surveyed the fans screaming out his name.
"Being an Irishman, I'm very happy and proud to be here in Chicago," Brosnan said. "Chicago is a good Irish city in many respects, and I'm here to premier our film 'Evelyn,' which is an Irish story. Everything just feels right."
Dressed in a black suit and accompanied by his wife, Keely Shaye Smith, Brosnan was honored at the 38th Chicago International Film Festival with the Career Achievement Award.
Earlier, during an interview at the Park Hyatt Hotel downtown, Brosnan, 49, joked, "I hope they're not saying my career is over. I feel like I'm just getting started here, and they're giving me a gold watch to get off the stage. To be given such an award now is a little premature, but nevertheless I'll accept it graciously."
About 200 fans gathered outside the theater to catch a glimpse of Brosnan, his "Evelyn" co-star Julianna Margulies and screenwriter Paul Pender. Margulies, who spent many winters in Chicago filming "ER," said she was pleased to return during warmer weather.
"I love Chicago so much," said Margulies, who looked chic in a colorful blouse and tailored slacks. Noticing young fan Jason Suran, 11, of Lincolnwood, the actress touched the boy's cheek and playfully asked if he was married. Flustered, Jason said, "No."
Describing himself as Brosnan's No. 1 fan, Jason managed to grab the actor's attention and autograph.
"I want to grow up to be just like him," the sixth-grader said. "He's a great actor, he's rich and he's famous. I've been waiting months to meet him. I can't believe he was so nice to me."
Jason first saw Brosnan
"Mrs. Doubtfire," but most of the fans in attendance looked old enough
to remember his breakthrough series "Remington Steele," which ran from
1982 to 1987.
Brosnan, just off a 19-hour flight from Bangkok, Thailand, said he was tired but wouldn't have missed the opportunity to come to Chicago for the award.
"I'm very pleased to be here," he said. "I'm joyfully nervous, excited and proud. This isn't just another gig for me that I wanted to breeze in and out of. This has very strong meaning for me, and I really appreciate everything the city has done to support me and my career. I hope Chicago will invite me back soon."
A paternal Pierce Brosnan put 007 aside for a more familial Bond at Tuesday's preem of "Evelyn" at the Acad's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The co-producer and star said watching the final version of the true tale from his native Ireland was "magical, beyond my wildest dreams. Who could ask for a better screening?"
Brosnan also saluted director Bruce Beresford, who fought for the pic throughout its six-year journey to the screen. "It came together when it was meant to come together," Brosnan said with his trademark grin.
Margulies, who previously
worked with Beresford on another reality-based drama, "Paradise Road,"
said she was on a trans-Atlantic flight within days of accepting
the role. "It's truly one of those things where I can't believe I
The green theme of the film's setting spilled into the packed reception in the Academy's main lobby, where MGM execs joined co-stars Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea and Sophie Vavasseur and guests Halle Berry, Rene Russo and Alec Baldwin to quaff Irish coffees and pints of Guinness and Harp.
Copyright 2002 Reed Elsevier Inc.
WHEN PIERCE BROSNAN HEADS
to launch the openings there of his latest Bond'ing, "Die Another Day,"
he'll be bringing along a print of "Evelyn" "in my back pocket."
He and partner Beau St. Clair produced the pic for their Irish
banner. He allows he also "coattailed " a print of "Evelyn" wherever he
appeared in Europe for "Die Another Day." And he hopes UA will be
as strong supporting his "Evelyn" as it has been for Bond. "It is a
film in a huge arena, where Bond can almost sell itself," he says.
is seen sans f/x, sex scenes or sensationalism in "Evelyn," a true
He plays a gruff, poor, Irish working man with threadbare wardrobe,
one-day growth of beard and wind-worn hair, fighting to regain
of his kids (three in the film, five in real life!). He is deservedly a
candidate for an Oscar nomination for this performance. The audience at
the Academy Tuesday p.m. echoed that feeling for him and the film.
personal history with children must have certainly influenced his
--- and forceful --- performance that may irk some of the Irish; he
he's already been warned. It opens in five U.S. cities Dec. 13 in time
to qualify and will roll out after the first of the year ... While his
banner's readying both the costumer "Lochinvar" and a romantic comedy,
"Laws of Attraction," Brosnan said he'd like to do more comedy ---
of course, starting his
Pierce Brosnan feels a bond with real-world films, reports Terry Armour
HE enters the room looking nothing like James Bond. Pierce Brosnan is dressed casually, wearing an open-collared shirt, blazer and a pair of slacks.
And where are the Bond-like gadgets? A remote-control watch that operates his car or exploding cufflinks or, perhaps, a Palm Pilot that doubles as some sort of missile-tracking device. Stuff like that. "I'm not really a gadget guy," Brosnan admits in his familiar Irish brogue.
"I still go around with a Walkman and tapes in my back pocket. I have a laptop that collects dust. I'm really old-school and I'm feeling it, more and more."
So old-school, Brosnan happens to find himself at a crossroads in his movie career, a crossroads that is magnified with his distinctly different personas in his two latest films.
Of course, he is again suave spy 007 in Die Another Day. Brosnan then bares his gentler side as a father fighting for custody of his three children in 1953 Ireland in Evelyn.
But as he approaches 50, Brosnan is contemplating whether his run as James Bond - this is his fourth turn as Agent 007 - slowly is coming to an end.
Brosnan has agreed to do at least one more Bond flick for MGM.
Beyond that, he really does not know.
After all, it is only a matter of time before he's no longer believable in what has turned into his most popular role.
"There certainly will come a time when I have to move away from Bond," he says. "One gets older and one can't play the roles one used to play. That's why Irish Dream Time (the production company he formed in 1998) has been such a godsend. It came from the concept and the passion to have control over my own career and to have choices."
The latest of these choices is Evelyn, which also stars Juliana Margulies, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and Alan Bates.
It is based on the true story of Desmond Doyle (Brosnan), a down-and-out Irish labourer whose wife abandons him, leaving him to raise their kids.
But when the Catholic Church finds out Doyle not only has lost his wife but is unemployed, the children are whisked away to orphanages, leading to a court battle as Doyle tries to regain custody of the children.
The role is as far away from Bond as Brosnan can get.
"Was it a stretch? Not really. There was a strong identification with the character. The man is a father, I'm a father. The man is Irish, I'm Irish. I grew up in a Catholic community."
That side of Brosnan - devoted husband and father - is a side many, except close friends, rarely see.
He dotes on his wife, Keely Shaye Smith and his five kids and tries to spend as much time with them as possible.
Margulies says the soft, gentle side was the first side of Brosnan she saw. "I'm really embarrassed to say this - I had never seen him do James Bond," she says. "What I knew of Pierce's work was The Tailor of Panama and Thomas Crown Affair - two movies that I loved."
And, Margulies says, believable as Desmond Doyle.
It's the same impression Brosnan made on Paul Pender, who wrote the script for Evelyn. "I can't praise him enough," Pender says. "The studios want him to always be James Bond - always to be this smooth guy in a suit saving the planet. The last thing they want him to do is some small Irish movie. Now, of course, they love it, because he's great in it."
For Brosnan, it will always come back to Bond.
He turned out to be the most prolific of the crop of 007s that followed Sean Connery, including Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.
Brosnan loves being associated with Bond. He takes the role very seriously.
"For me to be playing this role is such a kick in the pants," he says. "I'm passionate that it should reach as big an audience as possible. I go on the road and I sell it as much as I possibly can because I love what I do. I want it to carry on being great after I am gone."
Brosnan admits that is something he has pondered a lot lately, life after Bond.
It is a life that already has begun, at least on the big screen.
Die Another Day opens December 12. (Australia)
Copyright 2002 Nationwide News Pty Limited
Well, it's a great time in life if you can have something that is great and giant and commercial, and also something very much for your heart. And Pierce Brosnan has this right now. He has his fourth James Bond movie out, "Die Another Day."
As we said, it boasted the biggest opening day of any Bond movie ever. In two weeks it's become the fastest Bond ever to hit $100 million mark. But he is also starring in another film, and one that is truly a universe away from the fast cars and women of 007. It's a very personal film. It's opening next Friday. And, as we said, it's very moving and tender. It's called "Evelyn." And he has so much in his life right now.
DIANE SAWYER (CONTINUED)
(Off Camera) And it's great to have with you us.
PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR
Thank you. It's great to be here.
(Off Camera) So, I got to just hit Bond first here. Do you allow yourself to celebrate as this ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching goes up? Or is that, is that somebody else's result?
No, I allow myself to celebrate and stand back and, and acknowledge what has happened here. Bond has been a great experience in my life. It's changed my life around in many aspects. It's allowed me to go off and make a film like "Evelyn," "The Thomas Crown Affair." The first film we made was called, "The Nephew." It's allowed me to form a company called Irish Dream Time. And hopefully not get in a rut with this character.
(Off Camera) Well, do you say, two more? Five more? Am I close? Ten more?
Well, no, no, no. You have to hang up the hat at some time here, Diane. I mean, you know, they've asked me back for a fifth. So, I've said, yes. I think after that I have no idea where the wind's gonna take me. Really.
(Off Camera) Well, as we said, looking at the Bond films, you really do come back and say how wonderful it is to be able to do both things in your life. And this film is so moving and is a true story about a man named, I'm gonna summarize it badly so you'll interrupt me, Desmond Doyle, who 30 years ago his wife left him and the, the church, in effect, and the law of Ireland took his children away from him.
Mm hmm. It was Dublin. Dublin, 1953 is when the story takes place. And Desmond Doyle's case was, was not one that I had heard of growing up in Ireland. But it was certainly well documented, and documented in the annuls of the Irish judicial system. And as did happen in those kind of dark days of the '50s, someone like Desmond Doyle whose wife leaves him, the church and the state could come in and take the children, and they did. There were, actually, in the real story there were five children, but we put it down to three. So, they took Evelyn and the two little boys. And she went to a convent, and he, the boys went into an industrial school. And he fought church and state, and it went to the Supreme Court in Ireland, and it changed the whole ruling.
(Off Camera) And he fought it with a bunch of sort of crusty, rusty, war-torn old lawyers who had to come out of retirement, in effect, to help him make it happen.
That's right. There's Allen Bates playing Connelly, who was this Rugby-playing barrister. And he did come out of retirement to fight this case.
(Off Camera) One of the thing that, things that makes it so unique is that at the center of it is the Catholic Church and these orphanages. And I was surprised, because it's a fairly, a, well, it's a headline that you actually talk about the fact that sometimes in these orphanages the priests, the nuns were abusive and no one would ever face it. And this is another thing that he's dealing with in this.
Ireland in the last five, well, maybe 10 years, has gone through a very, kind of, cathartic experience with dealing with the issues of what happened to the children in the workhouses or these . . .
(Off Camera) Hitting them, I should say, not sexual abuse. But . . .
Yes, yes. I mean, I was taught by the Christian Brothers, and they were a pretty kind of, some of them were pretty mangled fellows. And it didn't sit well on them, this kind of air of the Christian brother. And they could be very abusive to the boys. I mean, I experienced it myself, and I saw it firsthand. And so, a lot of stories now in the last 10 years have come about from young film makers, documentary film makers about what happened with the nuns and the Christian Brothers.
(Off Camera) And, in fact, you moved from relative to relative to relative in a broken family, too. So, this had to be, this had to be a memory somewhere nearby at all times.
Well, you know, there were certain emblems in this story which I could identify with. I'm a father, I'm an Irishman, I was brought up by the Christian Brothers. But it certainly has nothing to do with my life. I wasn't an orphan. And when I tell people, or I have spoken about my life, and I made the big mistake of coming to this country 21 years ago and doing "Remington Steele" and doing my first interview and giving it all away. And then, once you've done that the door is open. But, so it's fairly well documented, you know, my childhood.
(Off Camera) All right. I want to play a clip from it, because this is when you go to confront the nun who has hit your daughter in the film. And then, we're gonna come back and talk about singing.
video clip from "Evelyn"
(Off Camera) And, again, it is a story of real triumph and a true one. Okay. How nervous were you to sing in it?
I was actually more nervous about doing the Dublin accent, to tell you the truth. The singing, you know, Bruce Beresford, who we go to direct this film, said, look, all you have to do is be mildly attractive. It's pub singing. So, I thought, well, fair enough. I'll just be mildly attractive. And, you know, but it was the Dublin accent which kind of really, you know, played with my head a little bit more because it's very specific.
(Off Camera) All right.
It's gonna be interesting to see how, all right you're saying.
(Off Camera) I'm saying all right because I got a promise from you. I'm gonna do my thing.
You're gonna do your thing.
(Off Camera) My foot stomping pub thing.
All right. Well, okay. Well, you don't, I don't think you have to have on foot stomp to this one, Diane, because this is a song called "The Parting Glass." And "The Parting Glass" actually, they used to sing in Ireland like "Auld Lang Syne." And, anyway, it's a, it's a lovely ballad. I'll just sing it, a little bit of it. Hopefully I'll get through it.
(live performance from Pierce Brosnan)
(Off Camera) Pierce Brosnan.
There you go.
(Off Camera) A "Good Morning America" first. Thanks so much.
(Off Camera) The movie is "Evelyn." And, again, it is a wonderful film.
Thanks very much.
(Off Camera) Wonderful
Copyright 2002 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. ABC News Transcripts
LENGTH: 784 words
HEADLINE: Actor Pierce Brosnan discusses his new movie, "Evelyn"
HANNAH STORM, co-host:
As superagent James Bond, Pierce Brosnan uses his brains and his brawn to very cooly save the world. But in the new film "Evelyn," Brosnan gets to flex a different muscle, his heart. He portrays a single father trying to save his family.
(Excerpt from "Evelyn," courtesy United Artist Films)
STORM: That's a great story. Pierce Brosnan, thanks for being here this morning. Mr. PIERCE BROSNAN ("Evelyn"): It's a pleasure.
STORM: Talk about your heart. I mean, your heart--you--you produced this movie and starred in it. You have so much invested in this story. What was it that--that drew you to this story, which is based on a true story?
Mr. BROSNAN: This is a story that came to me about six years ago, and from reading it, the first day I fell in love with the story because it's about a father, it's about a man who goes against the establishment. It's based on a true story which took place in Dublin in 1953. Desmond Doyle was a painter and decorator and the missus left him on Christmas Eve. The church and the state came in and took his daughter away, and the sons. And he went--he fought to get them back. Evelyn was taken, put in a convent; the two boys were in an industrial school. And this case went to the Supreme Court. And so this man, against all odds, won, and he turned around the whole judicial system at that time in Ireland. And so many children were released from these kind of places which were not the greatest institutions.
STORM: And just the whole notion, too, back in the '50s in Ireland, that a single father would be unfit to raise his children, even though his wife had left him, which, by the way, that's a stretch of the imagination to think that someone that is married to you would actually leave. But besides that, the film is very plausible.
Mr. BROSNAN: Well, they all--don't go there. Don't go there.
STORM: But--but it deals with some--some pretty heavy social issues?
Mr. BROSNAN: It does, yes. And it's--it was written by a man called Paul Pander, and there was a wonderful balance in it. It had a good sense of humor about itself, too. So these kind of stories can be very--they can really hit the audience, you know, with a mallet on the head. But what I loved about it was the levity of the piece. You know, it had great heart and it's...
STORM: It's sort of hopeful, don't you think?
Mr. BROSNAN: Yeah, well, it's about love, it's about courage, it's about faith. And, you know, it starts as this story in a very small fashion, then it opens up into this courtroom drama, which I love. It has a great crescendo to it. And that's what appealed to me. And it had a wonderful ensemble feeling to it as well. So...
STORM: Yeah, it's such a great cast, first rate.
Mr. BROSNAN: We got--we had this great script which we kind of had worked on for six years. We got Alan Bates, as you see here, we got Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies. And we got Bruce Beresford to direct the film. So we had a good text, we got Bruce, and in getting Bruce Beresford, then came this fine cast. So for me, it was a joy, it was--you know, to go back to Ireland the end of last year.
STORM: That must have been really fun for you to do all the filming in Ireland.
Mr. BROSNAN: Very much so. I mean, this company that we have is called Irish Dream Time, and the intentions of that is to keep going back to Ireland. We've made three pictures now; two of them have been in Ireland. One was called "The Nephew," then we did "The Thomas Crown Affair." And now...
STORM: Why was that so important to you?
Mr. BROSNAN: Go back to Ireland?
Mr. BROSNAN: It's where I come from. It's where--it's--you know, I'm Irish, but I've lived in London, I live in America, and it's always great to go home. You find parts of yourself that you don't find in other countries. And you find a voice, and certainly being an actor and playing Irish roles, you--it comes with a certain ease.
STORM: And you certainly got to display a lot more emotions than you do as the cool customer of James Bond.
Mr. BROSNAN: Well, Bond is great, you know. I mean, I--Bond has been mighty in my life. It has allowed me to go off and--and do these films and make these pictures. But it has its own restrictions. There's a--you know, there's a definite style to that character. And it's great to bust out of it.
Mr. BROSNAN: So...
Mr. BROSNAN: Thank you.
STORM: ...on making the movie and starring in it. It's a beautiful movie and an interesting film. Pierce Brosnan.
Copyright 2002 Burrelle's
AOL LIVE: Tonight we're chatting with actor Pierce Brosnan, star of Evelyn and Die Another Day, both recently released in theaters. Please send in your questions over the next 30 minutes. We're going to jump in with our first member question. It's - "Can you tell us what the film Evelyn is about?"
Brosnan: Evelyn is about a man called Desmond Doyle
painter and decorator in Dublin in 1953, and it starts with that period
in time in this city, and his daughter leaves-- his wife leaves on
Eve and he's left with the children, Evelyn and the two little boys.
it did happen in those days, the church and state could come in and
your children, and they did.
AOL Host: Great. Our actual next question is from sweetpeach1981. And they ask- "Did making your new movie Evelyn hit close to home for you, being set in Ireland?"
Pierce Brosnan: It did, actually. It's not until it's now all over and done and the filming is complete and the questions come in do you really realize how close it is to your heart. I was born in Ireland. I left in 1964. I was educated by the nuns; I was educated by the Christian Brothers. I had a certain understanding and knowledge of what it was like to experience that. I'm a father. And I also, you know, came from a home which was fractured. I didn't have a father. So there's a certain simpatico there, empathy for this man. It's certainty not autobiographical, by any stretch of the imagination. It's one of those stories, it comes along and it connects I had the most wonderful time making this film. I think everybody who worked on it enjoyed themselves enormously.
AOL Host: Great. Another member asks, "Did you have the opportunity to meet the father whose life the movie is based on?"
Pierce Brosnan: Did I meet the father?
AOL Host: Yeah.
Pierce Brosnan: No, he's not alive.
AOL Host: So it's a period piece?
Pierce Brosnan: It's a period piece. It's Dublin, it's 1953. And Evelyn is still very much alive, and she has written a wonderful book about her life. Evelyn had this story, she carried this story of her father for many years, and of her brothers, and, you know, when Desmond was passing away, she tells a story about him saying, what a mess he'd made of everything, and yet here was this incredibly courageous man, who fought against the church and the state for his family, for his children. So it has very strong resonance for fathers, for families, and it's a film that seems to have wonderful alchemy to it of enjoyment, entertainment, and passion.
AOL Host: Megan9600 asks, “I'd like to know, which type of movies do you like better, the Bond action films or other types of dramatic movies?”
Pierce Brosnan: I like it all. It's wonderful to do action movies. They're really quite a kick in the pants to do them, especially the Bond movies, being a fan of the genre. But it's also wonderful to go away and do character pieces. And I'm at a time if my career where there seems to be some choice, and that's what any actor strives for, to have choices, and to be challenged, to be scared and to be -- you know, to be brave about the work that you do. So I love it all, if I can do it all.
AOL Host: One of our members asks, "How did you get started in acting. "
Pierce Brosnan: I was 18 years of age, and I was living in south London, and I was a trainee commercial artist, and I was hanging my coat up one morning, and I was talking to a guy from the photographic department, and loved films, and he said, you should come along to these workshops that we're having. A place called The Oval House. And I went along there, and it was just the beginning. I went back every night that week, and I went to workshops, and it was at a time in the late 1960's when the Mama Ann Gritowski, the living theater, the Black Panthers, it was all happening in this arts lab. So that was my baptism with the whole world of stage, and I did that for about two, three years, and then I finally trained as an actor. I went to drama school, a place called The Drama Center, and that was the beginnings.
AOL Host: A member, purplecrystal asks, "What was your very first acting job, and how did it go?"
Pierce Brosnan: Um -- my first acting job was playing The Little Prince at the -- at Southward Cathedral. And I was 18, 19, and that was it. And it went well. It went very well.
AOL Host: One of our -- another member, whose screen name unfortunately I can't pronounce, asks, “Do you enjoy acting in movies or on stage better?”
Pierce Brosnan: I haven't done stage in 20 years, 21 years. I loved doing stage work. I had the great experience, enjoyed working with Tennessee Williams on one of his final productions. And my career as a young actor of 23/ 24 on the stage, it was just beginning. And I was only working in theater for maybe three years, four years before I went to America, and I haven't worked on the stage since. But I managed to work with Tennessee Williams and Zefferelli and do a whole host of Repertory Theater.
AOL Host: You certainly did it well while you did it.
Pierce Brosnan: I've been very lucky as an actor. I've always managed to have employment. It's always just amazed me that I've had employment. I'm always thrilled to get employed. And I love being an actor. You know, you work hard, and then you get some success, and that can -- you know, kind of be another challenge to deal with or then how do you keep the passion for it, how do you keep alive in the business? Stay hungry.
AOL Host: We have an interesting sort of actors studio type question from one of our members. “If you weren't acting, what other professions would you want to do?”
Pierce Brosnan: I would love to think that I could write or be a painter. It would be something in the arts, for sure.
AOL Host: Let's see. We're going to switch gears a little bit to the release, recent release, of Die Another Day, and member aquadisco asks, how many more Bond movies are you going to star in?
Pierce Brosnan: They've asked me back for a fifth, and after that is anyone's guess. I really don't know.
AOL Host: In a recent poll on the AOL service, 57% of our members chose Goldfinger as their favorite Bond film. What's your favorite, and why?
Pierce Brosnan: Goldfinger is my favorite, because it's the first James Bond movie I ever saw at the age of 11, and I think the car was incredible. I thought Connery was at his-- just beginning to kind of take the reins with the character and make it his own. His performance was central to the whole piece, and was just-- you know, you believed he was a spy. You believed he was invincible. And it was very sexy, and it was funny. You know, it just -- I think it captured a lot of people's imagination at that time. I mean, you had Sean Connery and you had the Beatles. And there's great iconography there.
AOL Host: How were you approached to become James Bond?
Pierce Brosnan: When I did Remington Steele they asked me, in 1986, if I would play the role. They offered me the role, and I said yes. My late wife, Cassandra Harris, she had done a James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only and so I knew the family. I knew Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, and of course at that time Cubby Broccoli. So there was a certain relationship struck up. But it was Remington Steele in 1986 when they first offered me the role.
AOL Host: One of our members, I guess a Remington Steele fan, would like to know, “Would you consider a "Remington Steele" movie, like the recent "Charlie's angels" remakes?”
Pierce Brosnan: Well, I have thought of it. Maybe somebody will do it. Maybe it's -- maybe not. But it certainly has crossed my mind. I'm very fond of that character. The premise of that character, the fish out of water is always a funny one. And, you know, - Remington, I have very fond memories of making it. But I haven't done anything about it except think of it.
AOL Host: Bacca-112 asks, "Hello, Pierce. I'm curious to know, did you do most of your own stunts?”
Pierce Brosnan: I did most of my own stunts. There are certain things you cannot do, and you would not be allowed to do, and it would be foolish to do, but, you know, the fighting sequences are always great fun to do. And you have the best stunt coordinators in that city, in that country, so you're surrounded and protected by these people. And they make you look good. But you try and put yourself in the action as much as possible.
AOL Host: Great. Here's sort of a change in tack, we have an interesting question from member dms42963, it asks, “Mr. Brosnan, what was the most exciting time of your life?”
Pierce Brosnan: This is the most exciting time of my life. Right now, this very moment in time is completely and utterly memorable, because of Evelyn because of James Bond, because of where I'm sitting right now, but very much because of Evelyn. Bond is -- you know, without Bond, I probably could not have done Evelyn. But the film, making this film in Ireland, with my production company Irish Dream Time and my partner Beau Marie St. Clair, everything leading up to this time has been wonderful, hard work, but wonderful. To have a dream of making a film like Evelyn a story, which you have faith in, and you hope will be entertaining, and then to nurse it along over a period of years, and to get a director like Bruce Beresford to accept the script and direct the script, that was mighty in itself. But then on top of that, to get a cast like we got, with Alan Bates, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, it was just -- it just had a wonderful ensemble cast and a feeling that we were all making something rather special. And then to see that reaction played out in the cinema, and, you know, to have it move people and touch people, that's great satisfaction. And then on the flipside, to have my fourth James Bond film be so appreciated, and to -- that's a big crowd pleaser. So I couldn't be happier right now.
AOL Host: Great. Well, we're very happy to have you with us right now, too. And we actually have a question in from Ireland, which just came in from mgdjmb. They're asking. “Where in Ireland was the film shot?”
Pierce Brosnan: We shot in Ardmore studios, in and around the fair old city of Dublin, and out in the countryside of Wicklow. Ireland is a wonderful place to work in, and we had a grand time. We made this film Evelyn on the heels of 9/11, and I think every man and woman who worked on it found a certain kind of comfort and sanctuary in working in Ireland at that time. The weather was good for us at that time of the year. At that time of the year it can be really miserable. But the days we needed sun, we got sun.
AOL Host: Jeb and beck ask, "What roles will you be playing in 2003?"
Pierce Brosnan: I don't know. And that's the thrill and the joy and the kind of the reason one is an actor. It's not knowing what is around the corner. Again, it helps enormously having a company like Irish Dream Time where you can kind of work on projects and any actor who holds any power or any clout to make their own company should. They should work as hard as possible to kind of find a project that you love and raise the money. Of course, it helps enormously if you have a Bond movie in your back pocket. That's why I set up the company in the first place. Because in playing James Bond, you can find yourself painted into a very large corner, and it is trying to find your way out of that corner and find roles that will not typecast you.
AOL Host: GlassLynn asks, "What role would you most like to play in the future?"
Pierce Brosnan: I've never had a role that I, a part or a play, that I wished to do. And that's kind of been there all along through my career. I've never said I want to play Hamlet or I want to play a particular character. It's now, in the last six years, I've begun to think more of what I should be doing, and certainly character work and characters that are dramatic characters. But I don't really have a style.
AOL Host: Here's a similar question, along the similar line, faithstar20005 asks, if you wanted to be in a movie with anyone you would want to act with, who would it be?
Pierce Brosnan: Anthony Hopkins I think is wonderful. Julianna Moore I think is a superb actress. That's it. I mean, there's a whole list of people, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman. There are so many. Jude law. Younger actors.
AOL Host: Let's see, oneliterPepsi asks, "Who was your idol growing up?"
Pierce Brosnan: Who was my idol growing up? So many lives it fills. When I was a boy in Ireland I didn’t really have heroes. It wasn't until I got into the world of acting that I had heroes. Brando was certainly the one that drew me into the world of acting. Along with McQueen and -- so those are the ones, I would say. And I can't say -- I've never seen them as heroes. I don't think in that kind of box, of heroes, but people that you respect and admire.
AOL Host: This medium sort of lends itself to having some very interesting questions posed, and this one from member 10barrel is, "if were you stuck on a deserted island and could have three items, what would they be?"
Pierce Brosnan: Oh, I think a lifetime supply of paints and brushes and pencils and a wonderful tool chest, and some lovely chardonnay, and some wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon. Sounds kind of good.
AOL Host: Next question is nsjnodoubt1 asks, "What music do you like to listen to?"
Pierce Brosnan: What do I listen to? I was just listening to Leonard Cohen, actually. I was just putting up the Christmas music. Leonard Cohen is not exactly Christmas music. But I like classical music. I love jazz. I love Charlie Parker. I love Van Morrison. I love Bruce Springsteen. I love The Beatles. You know, I love Cold Play. I think Cold Play is great. I think Nora Jones is fabulous. Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf. Let me see, The Stones.
AOL Host: Wide Spectrum of taste.
Pierce Brosnan: Beck is pretty damn good right now. I like Beck. And Jack Johnson is good.
AOL Host: Screenwriter33 asks, "Do you enjoy working on the production side of films at all?"
Pierce Brosnan: I have a lousy brain for figures, and so when they start talking in figures and numbers and schedules, that really does my head in. But I said that sagely nodding, because one has to be involved in production meetings. I have a wonderful partner in Beau Marie St. Clair, and the wonderful women who I work with in my office, Cynthia Palermo, Angelique Higgins. So there are many minds involved in making a production, and you play to your strengths, and I enjoy trying to figure out the story up to a point. I enjoy working on my own character. There is an aspect, because I've worked as an actor all my life, in now producing. There are so many parts of it that I know instinctively, intuitively. But then there are the nuts and bolts from the practicalities of it, which aren't always a great challenge to me, to get my head around them. But as I say, I have a wonderful support team, and wonderful people passionate about making films and passionate about our company, Irish Dream Time.
So I love the casting, who's going to be in it, the locations, the wardrobe, who's going to take care of that in the art department, trying to work with -- look at people's work in films, where you go, "That is an incredible production designer. Let's try to work with him" or "She is an amazing designer of clothes and costume", someone like Joan Bergen, who did Evelyn for us. It's just beautifully turned out. John Stollard, the production designer on Evelyn. Incredible. We've got these maestros. And that all came from good story, good text, the story you want to tell, and then a director, a good director, Bruce Beresford. That's how you try and create something that will attract people. And ultimately, attract an audience and turn them on.
AOL Host: Next question – “What was it like to work with Judi Dench?”
Pierce Brosnan: Judi is a remarkable actress and remarkable woman. Judi is just so present when you work with her. She's present in person, as a human being, and consequently, that all goes into her performance. Her concentration is incredible. And it's an utter joy to work with her, to see her play M. And having watched her throughout my life on the small screen in England, from something like A Fine Romance to playing the cinematic roles she's played in the last 10 years, she is somebody who just bedazzles every time, and works so hard, and yet you never see it, you never see that on screen. You just see this character, this whatever she's playing; it has poignancy to it. So I like her a lot.
AOL Host: Cowgirl asks, "Do you support any charities?"
Pierce Brosnan: I do support charities. The Entertainment Foundation. There's a foundation I work with which supports many children's causes. I work with the NRCD. For the environment. I work with the Wildlife Fund. I work with the American Oceans. And there is a lot of work involved with the environment, and because of my wife Keely, I have been blessed in meeting some of the most profound people that are alive today and fighting for this planet and fighting for the oceans, for the mountains, or the trees. For the wildlife.
And consequently you get to travel and try and do some good. And it's a good balance to being an actor. It's a good balance also to having had some success over these last few years and trying to put back into the community at large. I probably would have ended up being a social worker if I hadn't been an actor, because when I discovered acting, it was in a neighborhood which was a very poor neighborhood, and most of the performances I gave were for that community, and for school kids. I was surrounded by a lot of teachers, and so it's kind of gone hand in hand throughout my life.
AOL Host: Great. Well, that was actually our last question. And I usually like to find a great comment from our audience to pass along to our guest at the end of an interviews, and we have one, Rizzo055 says, "I think you're just a wonderful person and a great actor." I've loved all your movies, and thank you so much for sharing yourself with us this evening. That's from Tammy.
Pierce Brosnan: Thank you, one and all out there. Have wonderful holidays. Be good to each other. And just love and peace. Love and peace, and love and glory. Go see Evelyn.
AOL Host: Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us this evening. It's been a real pleasure.
Pierce Brosnan: Yes, Susan. All the best to you. Talk to you again now.
AOL Host: Great.
Pierce Brosnan: Thanks.
SECTION: Arts & Life; Pg. A20
HEADLINE: Brosnan breaks out of Bondage: Playing the suave secret agent in James Bond movies has made Pierce Brosnan wealthy and famous. But that's not enough: it's taking on roles like that of a labourer who loses his kids in Evelyn that lets him test and stretch his abilities
SOURCE: Knight Ridder Newspapers
BYLINE: GLENN LOVELL
James Bond pays the rent, and then some, but the debonair secret agent doesn't satisfy the urge to stretch and experiment.
For that, Pierce Brosnan
must slip from Bondage to try on new, more down-to-earth
The fact-based story is a
of love by Brosnan's Santa Monica production company Irish
Not wanting to come off as an ingrate - after all, he brings in a reported $15 million U.S. every time he slips behind the wheel of Bond's Aston Martin - the 49-year-old adds: "Not that I'm lazy. I'm anything but that. I just haven't challenged myself enough. The last couple of years I've been fully aware of that, and I've had to go out there and find the roles."
Like Sean Connery and Roger Moore before him, Brosnan has discovered that playing the world's most popular secret agent can be a velvet trap. The travel and the perks are glorious, but being typed as a suave killer and ladies' man can limit further career choices. And though the actor and now producer has remained active in character parts (the colonial Africa magistrate in Mister Johnson, the disgraced operative in The Tailor of Panama), it's the Bond franchise and not the moonlighting that keeps him on Hollywood's A-list.
And this can be enervating.
"I do have that depression from being typecast," he reveals. "I sometimes look at myself and wish I'd done better in the non-Bond roles. But you have to work at it. I mean, you have to have the courage to be an actor, anyway. Because you're constantly being judged. That's the nature of the game."
In Evelyn, he plays Desmond Doyle, a feet-of-clay labourer who spends way too much time in the local pub, boozing and brawling. Divorced and unemployed, Doyle eventually loses custody of his young daughter and two sons, who are packed off to orphanages, where the 9-year-old girl is beaten by at least one nun. The movie was inspired by the real-life Doyle's 1953 court battle, wherein little Evelyn took the stand.
Given recent headlines, Evelyn couldn't be timelier, Brosnan agrees with a wince. Given the film's rating (PG) and upbeat ending, it's also the perfect holiday tonic. But Brosnan's reasons for developing the property and hiring Bruce Beresford, who had directed him in Mister Johnson, were more personal.
"There was a strong sense of identification," Brosnan says. "I came from a broken home in Ireland during the '50s. I had a Catholic upbringing. I was taught by nuns and brothers. I was cuffed ... beaten with the old black rod. I was caned, strapped, thumped and kicked.
"So I wanted to go even stronger in dramatizing the child abuse. But Bruce, wise man, said no, less is more. He was right. We found a good balance between what the church and state did to the children and the characters' belief in God. You come away with a sense of faith."
Another reason he was
drawn to the
script: It dealt with the plight of a single father. In 1991,
"I had a great fear, I don't mind telling you. It was overwhelming being a single parent. I was adrift in the world with the responsibility of three young lives, and the grief of loss. So I could certainly identify with Doyle to a large extent." (Brosnan also has two children with Keely Shaye Smith, whom he married last year.)
But none of this meant much to investors. They saw the film as a tearjerker starring an actor who had yet to catch on outside of his Bond persona.
Brosnan and Beresford were offered a paltry $15 million to make Evelyn - a figure then slashed to $10 million. (The average Bond extravaganza tips the scale at well over $150 million U.S.)
"They just lopped off a third of the budget," he grumbles. "They looked at the figures and said no. But, let's face it, no one else would have given me Evelyn. If another company had made it, they wouldn't have asked me to play the lead. Why? Because of my style of acting. Who I am. My presence."
If he isn't able to shed
image soon, Brosnan says, he'll work all the harder to change the
"I've always seen myself
as a character
actor, and I've tried to bring some of that to the Bond
But again, Bond is a means to an end, a springboard, not the defining role in a career that in Brosnan's mind is just getting under way.
"In this business, you have to have ego and no ego. The thing is, do you have work? Do you like your job? Are you happy with yourself? Sometimes I look at myself and wish I was better in this or that area. But you have to work. I know I can play Mr. Suave. I know it's there, and I think I play it fairly well. And I make a living at it. .."
"But then there has to be more."
Evelyn opens here on Christmas Day. The movie will be reviewed in Tuesday's Gazette. Die Another Day is playing in theatres now.
GRAPHIC: Photo: UNITED ARTISTS; Desmond (Pierce Brosnan) is reunited with (from left) Dermot (Niall Beagan), Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur) and Maurice (Hugh MacDonagh. One reason Brosnan was drawn to the role was the fear he faced when his wife died, leaving him with three children to raise.
Copyright 2002 CanWest
a division of
Evelyn allows Pierce Brosnan to sing and cry as a father fighting for his children
When Irish eyes aren’t smiling: as Desmond Doyle, Pierce Brosnan finds that being a single dad in the Emerald Isle is agin the law.
TORONTO—Throughout the history of the James Bond film series, its various lead actors have attempted to keep their careers alive with other movies. Although "Bond" may live forever, the men who play him come and go. So far, Sean Connery is the only Bond to enjoy post-franchise success. Even Connery, however, didn't have much of a profile outside of the Ian Fleming-inspired movies during the time he played the suave secret agent.
Pierce Brosnan, on the other hand, has starred in several films since taking on the role. The Irish-born actor founded his own production company to assure that he would not be left off the casting couch. He set up Irish DreamTime in Dublin and has managed to access government funding in addition to money from the Bond franchise's studio, MGM, to make three films: The Match, The Nephew, and the new Evelyn, which is now playing in Vancouver. (A fourth DreamTime project, The Thomas Crown Affair, received no funding from the Irish government.)
Evelyn, like The Nephew, is a distinctly Irish film. It's based on the true story of Desmond Doyle (Brosnan), a man whose family life is torn apart when his wife leaves him and his three children for another man. Doyle assumes he will be raising the kids on his own, but he soon runs into the overwhelming power of church and state. Told that he cannot bring up his children without a mother, he vows to fight the system. After his daughter, Evelyn, is sent to a convent and his two boys are taken to an orphanage run by the Christian Brothers, he enlists the help of a legal team and sets out to become the first Irishman to successfully challenge an existing law in the Irish Supreme Court.
In an interview room at the Toronto International Film Festival, Brosnan says he had known about the screenplay for the film since he launched Irish DreamTime, but he wasn't happy with it. "We founded the company six years ago and we looked at this script. But there was too much fat in it. It wasn't until we brought in [director] Bruce Beresford that we felt we could make a movie.
"Bruce is a gifted fellow, and he trimmed 20 pages from the screenplay. Mostly, he cut scenes that were far too long. I knew he could do it, because I saw him do the same thing for a film I worked on that he directed called Mr. Johnson. That's one of the best things about producing, is that you can bring in people like Bruce to work with you."
Another advantage was the availability of Evelyn Doyle, who was just a little girl when her mother ran off and left the family behind. British filmmaker Paul Pender overheard her telling the story of her life in a hotel during the Edinburgh International Film Festival and decided to write a script based on it. Doyle had gone to the festival with hopes of fulfilling a deathbed promise she had made to her father.
"I wanted to make the story into a film, because my father had told me as he lay dying that his life had been a waste," Doyle recalls. "He was 62, and he had been a wonderful painter and a musician and a singer, and I told him, ‘No, you changed the way the church and the government treat parents and children and someday everyone will know what you did.' "
Pender was convinced that Brosnan, who looks somewhat like pictures of Doyle's father, would be perfect in the role. But until Beresford worked on the script, it appeared the project was dead. It sat around for 15 years after Pender met Doyle in Edinburgh. Doyle says that it all turned around the day she answered the phone while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.
"I have a rule. No one phones me during Star Trek. So when Pierce phoned, I was upset with him until he convinced me that it was indeed him. Then he asked me if I would allow him to play my father, because he was convinced he should be played correctly. I said, ‘Of course. But there are six million women who would give up their children for you. Are you sure you can play a man whose wife left him for someone else?' "
Brosnan told Doyle he was sure that he wanted to play the role because he had issues of his own with the Roman Catholic Church. "My mother was single in the late 1950s," he says. "As a result, she was shunned by the church at a time when the church was so powerful. I was taught by the Christian Brothers and I wanted to show the way they treated these kids. I had a bone to pick with the church, and I wanted to push the movie further than the script."
Beresford stepped in and cooler heads prevailed. The film is still critical of the role of the Catholic Church in the lives of the Irish during the '50s, but Brosnan took the negative energy he would have brought to the script and turned it into a passion that he could use to sell the story to government agencies and corporate funders. "You have to be passionate," he says. "If you aren't, they [the funders] will slam the door in your face."
Doyle was also enthusiastic about the story, but she was a little worried that the script would be an indictment of her mother and not about the obstacles her father had to overcome. The family her mother went on to create after she abandoned Evelyn and her brothers was also concerned that the film would condemn their mother, who now lives in Scotland.
"The producers had to inform them about the movie and they contacted me and said, ‘If you carry on with this you will be exposing your mother to this,' " she says. "But I wasn't really that concerned. I had spent years tracking her down, and when I found her and went to see her, she introduced me to her new family as a girl that she had looked after when my mother was ill."
Brosnan worked closely with Doyle to capture the essence of her father. "It made it a lot easier to have Evelyn to bounce things off of," he says. "She made little points about how her father walked that allowed me to feel more comfortable in his skin."
Meanwhile, Brosnan certainly feels comfortable in the skin of James Bond. He has starred in four Bond films and says he is convinced that he has another one in him. "I think that if I hadn't founded this company, I would have left James Bond behind a while ago. But the company has allowed me to do something I always wanted to do, which is tell stories about Ireland. It also allows me to take on characters who are far removed from Bond, characters like Desmond Doyle who are close to my heart and cry and sing. You can't sing when you're James Bond. And you certainly can't cry."
HEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD SCOT WHO ENJOYS LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE
BYLINE: EXCLUSIVE By John Millar
HE is fast becoming one of the hottest scriptwriters in Hollywood and is about to release a major blockbuster with Pierce Brosnan.
But Scots-born Paul Pender is finding it difficult to adapt to his high-profile arrival in Tinseltown - because he still gets the service bus to work.
The writer, from Hyndland, Glasgow, is unable to drive and has been arriving at toplevel meetings using California's haphazard public transport from his home in Santa Monica to Hollywood. He said yesterday: "The first time the film executives discovered this, they asked if going by bus was like in the movie Speed. The only idea they had of bus travel was what they had seen in the Sandra Bullock movie."
Pender wrote Evelyn, a tear-jerking movie starring James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, which opens later this month.
The former BBC Scotland script editor, spent the past 11 years bringing to life the story of Evelyn which tells how Desmond Doyle, an Irish father battles through the courts to regain custody of his daughter and two sons.
Last week in New York, he received a Christopher Award, a prize that is presented to films which affirm the highest values of human spirit. Previous winners include Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.
His idea for the movie was sparked by a chance encounter with Desmond Doyle's daughter at the 1992 Edinburgh Film Festival.
He said: "I heard this Irish accent asking why no-one wanted to do her father's story, turned and met Evelyn Doyle for the first time.
"We talked and within three minutes the hair on the back of my neck was standing up. I immediately knew it would make a great film - a classic."
Pender revealed it was only an outrageous piece of bravado, involving sneaking into Brosnan's office, that helped him make his Hollywood breakthrough.
The writer had always wanted the 007 star to take the lead role of Doyle and spotted the actor in the corridor of MGM Studios in Hollywood. Despite being told Brosnan would not be interested, he secretly walked into his office and left the script on his desk.
Less than two weeks later, he received a call to meet with the actor and was shocked when Australian film-maker Bruce Beresford, of Driving Miss Daisy fame, wanted to come on board.
Paul said: "It's the best performance of Pierce's life. I love the film and hope it touches the hearts of people and entertains them."
Pender, who produced football series Faith, Hope, Calamity, is now working on a Hollywood movie based on the life of Scots ecologist John Muir.
He is already lining up a partnership with Bruce Beresford for the film, which would tell the story of how Muir emigrated to the US and became a famous conservationist in California.
Evelyn is released in cinemas around the UK on March 21.
'Is Mammy dead?' 'No pet, she's not dead. But she might as well be. We won't see her any more'
It's a long way from a lousy flat in an inner city Dublin ghetto to a glittering Hollywood party. But for Evelyn Doyle it was no fantasy. She really was surrounded by A-list celebs at the world premiere of Pierce Brosnan's film about her life.
The movie - which opened in Ireland last night - is based on Evelyn's eponymous book, a memoir of her troubled childhood. It is a testimonial to her father, Dessie, who had a love so great for his children that he took on the Supreme Court to reunite his family. It was also a cathartic and deeply emotional experience for her to watch the story unfolding on the silver screen.
"It's very exciting having Pierce Brosnan, the sexiest man in the world, to play your dad," said Evelyn. "But there are parts of the film I just can't watch. I didn't realise I hadn't got over a lot of what happened to me. It takes me back to a place I thought I had left behind."
That place, which today seems more like the Middle Ages, was Dublin of the 1950s.The story starts with Evelyn Doyle, aged eight, the eldest and only girl in a brood of six children being left in charge of her brothers by her mother who would disappear from morning to night. "Where she goes to is a mystery," said Mrs Moore, one of the Fatima Mansions women Evelyn acknowledges in her book. Her father, Dessie, a painter and decorator, was often away working - either that or lying in a hospital bed with lead poisoning from the paints he used. The kids were left to look after one another. Her brother Maurice proudly stole biscuits for the young ones. To make a few pence to feed the gas meter or themselves, Evelyn and the boys would cadge wooden tea and currant chests from local shops to sell on to the truly frightening Mr Gleason, a "dirty oul gurrier, with a deep purple face and nose like a potato gone off". It was a life of squalor and neglect; the children would constantly miss school and were infested with lice. Evelyn had impetigo.
One day when her mother had gone off to meet her lover, Evelyn left the baby, Dermott, and went out herself to look for another brother who had wandered off. On her return, she was greeted on the landing by the harridan of the Fatima Mansions, Mrs Sullivan, running headlong down the stairs with something wrapped in a coat. "Tell your mammy I'm at the hospital with the babbie." The flat smelled of burnt rags and papers and there was water in the pram. Dermott had been badly burned.
Later, her mother admonished the mortified young girl: "You have to tell your father I was hanging out the washing when the baby got burned. Do you hear me? And if you'd been looking after him like I told you he wouldn't be where he is now!"
A few months later on a happy Christmas Day 1953, said Evelyn: "Mammy joined in a singsong with Grandad and Daddy. Grandad gave us an orange, a sixpence and a big slice of his homemade pudding. Dermott would be coming home soon."
The next morning, on St Stephen's Day in the lashing rain, Evelyn's mother left her husband and children and ran off to Scotland with her lover.
As she departed the flat, all red lippy and dressed in her new shoes, "she bent down to touch my shoulder. 'I want you to mind the babies and mind yourself.' She had a queer look on her face. 'Are you going to Mass?' 'No I'm just going for the messages. Bye, Bye.' Something wasn't right... I ran as fast as I could after her shouting 'Mammy! Mammy! Come back!' But she didn't turn around."
Dessie traced his wife's disappearance to his own cousin, Gerry, her secret 'fancy man' for all those many months.
That night, as he cut his wife's image out of every family photograph in the house and threw the snippets on the fire, Evelyn saw her Daddy cry for the first time."Is Mammy dead?" she asked, as her father convulsed in sobs. "No pet, she's not dead. But she might as well be. We won't see her any more."
With his wife gone, Dessie went to see the 'cruelty man' at the NSPCC. He had no job, no money and no one to help him mind the six children. He had little choice but to agree to place them into the Industrial Schools while he went off in search of work. "But just until I can get myself together." He signed the documents.
What he couldn't know was that this naive act would lead to a monumental struggle with the State in the highest court of the land.
In a scene straight from Dickens, the Doyle children were physically dragged from the Children's Court. Evelyn recalls: "These people were taking my two baby brothers away. Daddy picked me up and held me tight. The other three boys clung to his legs. We were all crying, the nun too, and even the men were in tears. The funny man blew his nose noisily and said: 'Will that woman ever know the pain she has caused here today'?"
Evelyn was sent to the sisters at High Park Convent in north Dublin; her brothers went to an industrial school for boys in Kilkenny and her father went to find work in England. After a dodgy start - baths didn't agree with her - Evelyn got on well at the convent. For the first time in her life she was allowed to be a child; she quickly made friends and went to school. She was sent parcels of treats from her Dad, whom she adored, and her granny. The nuns were compassionate. But they were also obstinate.
When Dessie returned from England to claim his daughter, Evelyn was elated. "Daddy had come to the convent for the first time since the day he'd left me there and this surely meant that I would soon see my brothers and we would all be together again."
But the Reverend Mother would not give her up despite his threats and cursing and bellowing. "It's the law," she said. "Both you and you wife must apply to the court. Until then, the State has custody of all your children until they reach the age of 16."
The Children's Act of 1941, Section 10, stood in the way of Desmond Doyle and his children. He needed his wife's signature to get them out of the schools, even though she had deserted them and was living abroad.
Dessie vowed to fight the law. His court battle won him massive popular support. Strangers shook his hand in the street. Pubs set up funds for the father who only wanted his children back.
Together with a team of three lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, Dessie launched a complicated legal battle against the Minister of Education who was backed by the clergy. The Catholic Church stood against Doyle because he had brought back a 'housekeeper' - his new girlfriend Jessie - a Protestant woman he had met in England who was considered unsuitableas a female role model for the children.
Eventually, after several soul-destroying setbacks for the devoted father, constitutional expert TJ Conolly convinced the Supreme Court that it was Evelyn's right, even as a child, to choose where she wanted to live and her father's right to supervise her education. Dessie had won his case. Finally, after nearly two years of legal wrangling, the children were his.
In a Hollywood-style ending, Denis Larkin, Lord Mayor of Dublin, showed up outside the courthouse, right on cue in a sleek black Rolls Royce. "Congratulations, Mr Doyle!" he said smiling for the cameras. "My car is at your disposal. Shall we go and pick up your daughter now?"
Gaiety all round and roll credits - but all did not go happily ever after for Evelyn and her beloved Daddy. The same fiery personality that sustained him in his court battle worked against him on an emotional level. "He didn't know how to show love," said Evelyn recently. He became very protective and over the years father and daughter clashed frequently. Finally, Evelyn ran away at age 18 and three years later sought a reconciliation with her mother.
She tracked her down to a council house in Glasgow where she was living - "a small slightly overweight middle-aged woman" - with Gerry and their four kids. But it was to be a bitter meeting. Evelyn remembers: "As we arrived at the house, a child of five or six asked: 'Who's that, Mammy?'
"'Children,' my mother said. 'This is Evelyn. I used to look after her when she was a little girl when her mammy was in hospital',"
Even today, at age 56, those words of disownment ring in Evelyn's ears. "I haven't seen her since and I don't want to. I know she is still alive, but she is out of my life."
Evelyn married, gave birth to a son, Benjamin, and divorced. "When I held my own scrap of humanity in my arms I thought: 'How could anyone leave their own child. And what must it have done to her to walk out on six of us?'"
Evelyn is now a granny and lives quietly with her partner, Michael, in Scotland. She kept close to her stepmother until her death in 1990. In fact, Jessie was with her when she gave birth to Benjamin. "It finally hit me that she had always been there. That's what being a mother is all about."
As for her father, Evelyn went to see him regularly in later life. He had lung cancer and as he was reflecting on the past during one such visit in 1986; Evelyn remembers him saying: "'It's been such a waste, my life,' he said. But I told him - no it wasn't. What you did touched thousands of lives'."
Two days later Dessie Doyle was dead.
EVERY time I see Pierce Brosnan, I always think he sounds jaded. He may be at the end of a long day, but they can't all be arduous days. Normally, stars perk up for live television. But on Parkinson and The Late Late Show, he is much the same. It is more than laidback; jaded is the only word for it. When I put this to the actor, he is surprised.
"I always sound jaded?" he asks, in his softly spoken voice.
"Are you laidback anyway or are you absolutely exhausted, running around in whirlwinds?"
"Well, you kind of do so many interviews. I don't think I'm jaded. I'm tired now because I've just done a week in Spain and then I've done London and come here. You don't want to give it all away when you have 20 interviews in a day. So, cut me some slack. What would you like me to do? Tell jokes and be Mr Personality and stuff like that? . . . it's just my style. I'm pretty laidback."
Brosnan sits at the edge of the couch. His hair is silver at the temples and his eyes a powder blue. A tuft of chest hair peeps out from his open shirt. When he talks to you, he really looks at you. The man has the ability to make you feel like the only woman in the world. It doesn't look like a tactic; just that Brosnan does one thing at a time, and when he is with you, he is with you. (All men should learn how to do this.)
He may only be talking about Evelyn, his latest film, or how he stays in fine physical condition - pilates and running - but he sounds like he is having one of those four-in-the-morning 'what is the meaning of life' discussions. His voice is hushed and seductive.
Evelyn is based on the true events of Evelyn Doyle's life; She was a young Irish girl whose mother left their family. Their father, Desmond Doyle, tried to bring up his children but they were taken away from him and put into orphanages. Doyle tried to get his children back. He went to court and lost. Eventually the case went to the Supreme Court and Doyle was successful. His case made legal history and he was reunited with his children.
On the morning that I met Brosnan, I heard the real-life Evelyn Doyle being interviewed by Gerry Ryan on the radio. She told Ryan that when her family were re-united, all was not rosy. The children didn't get on with their stepmother and their father was a violent man. Evelyn the film is a sweet fairytale of a film. The real story is grittier and, I think, more interesting. I ask Pierce why he stopped at the happy ending.
"Because he won. Why would you want to go on? The script came first. Evelyn met Paul Pender and told her story. We got the script and loved the script. I don't think you would want to go beyond that. I think that now that Evelyn has got the bit between her teeth, she probably will want to go on. But the story is about a man whose children are taken from him and he goes against the church and State and wins, end of story."
In Evelyn, Brosnan plays the part of Desmond Doyle.
"Being a father, I had a huge background to draw from. The wealth of experience, being a father - that was one of the attractions to it. And knowing something about the church and State at that time. Having lived through it in the Fifties, and coming from a home that was broken and a father that took to the hills.
"There was a strong identification there but it was not my life. It was Evelyn's life, Desmond's life. He wasn't a saint by any stretch of the imagination. I feel like I'm being laidback and jaded now," Brosnan says, laughing at his lotus-eater delivery.
But I am too lulled to care. I tell him that my aim is to be laidback.
"Oh really. Are you feeling more laidback with me? Just chill out."
And I do, but for the niggly problem of the film.
THERE is no sweet way of saying this. In Evelyn, some of the Irish accents are just plain awful. Pierce sounds like an American actor making a bags of the Irish brogue. And the child who plays Evelyn is very well spoken for someone who is supposed to be from Fatima Mansions (Sophie Vavasseur is a fine actress but her accent jars with the role).
This film was produced by Brosnan's production company, Irish Dreamtime, and he wanted to get it right. "It was getting the Dublin accent that kind of really worried me," he said. Brosnan employed a dialect coach to nail this old-fashioned Dub accent. Brosnan did his best, but he didn't pull it off. But the film does have its redeeming qualities. Hurray for a film which doesn't hop on the Catholic church-bashing bandwagon. Not all nuns were awful. Some did great work. Brosnan is happy about this. "I love that this did not pull asunder the Catholic Church, because there are magnificent examples of many women who come from that faith and have done good things. Life is about trying to do good things for family, for yourself and then for your community at large. The essence for me is love, and compassion. I love the ritual of church. I go to Mass from time to time."
"No, I don't go to confession. Of course I have sins. But the last time I went to confession I was 24. I was ready to go for an audition in London and I was in this beautiful, beautiful church down near St Paul's. The light was streaming in, I went in and the questions he asked me. I felt - what has this got to do with forgiveness, love, compassion? This is not for me. I have my own inner dialogue."
Can Brosnan always see himself acting? Does he still get a kick out of it?
"Yes, the passion is still there; the desire to get better at the job, to create as many different characters as I possibly can, to position myself for films, to make films that have good value content."
Evelyn may not be a great film but in the scheme of things it doesn't matter that much. Brosnan is sincere about his work. Besides, there are some things that are more important. On my way up to the interview, there was a young boy in a wheelchair coming out of the lift. He was bald and pale-faced. He had a model of a James Bond sports car in his hand. The boy smiled out from underneath the baseball cap.
In his hectic schedule Pierce Brosnan had quietly made time for this random act of kindness. He is a good man.
'Evelyn' is on general release