|The Nephew, a
Sky Movies Exclusive, is Pierce Brosnan's most recent movie and his first
project as producer. Nick Bradshaw caught up with the mild-mannered Irishman
York is buzzing. Outside on Broadway, under a crisp blue sky, crowds
of cheering Manhattanites march by as they celebrate a triumphant win by
the New York Yankees in the 1998 baseball World Series. Six floors up,
Pierce Brosnan is having his photograph taken for Sky TVGuide. Despite
the madness on the street below, the only sound to be heard is the occasional
click of a camera shutter and pop of the flash gun. All the women in the
neighbouring studios and offices have gathered in the doorway to watch
the effortlessly stylish Irishman strike a pose. As one, they look on with
more reverence than for your average 11.30 Diet Coke break. Midway through
the photo shoot, Brosnan takes off his shirt to change into a different
outfit. Although I'm not actually present, I know when it happens, for
at that precise moment, a collective sigh can be heard in the next room.
Having finally had his picture taken,
Pierce joins me. This is the end,' he says as he sits down. Not,
it must be said, the most encouraging opener. Having flown across the Atlantic
to meet the man, this looks set to be the shortest interview on record.
It soon transpires, though, that his comment refers to his latest film
The Nephew - a film he has been more deeply involved with than any
other in his career. I'll be putting the film to bed after this interview,
because it's time to move on. I've been involved from the script landing
on my desk, to meeting the director and putting the crew together, right
through to this chat we're having now.'
The Nephew - a Sky Movies
Exclusive showing on Sky Premier, Saturday 12 December - marks Brosnan's
debut as a producer after considerable success as an actor, with firms
such as Dante's Peak (also debuting on Sky Premier this month),
Mars Attacks! and, of course, the Bond movies
Tomorrow Never Dies.
I'd never produced before,' he says.
'For my first film, I didn't want to do a big Hollywood piece. I wanted
to do a small movie about something that was intimate and had a strong
storyline. I think this film has a good heart.'
In The Nephew he plays Joe
Brady, the bar owner on an island off the coast of Ireland who is at the
centre of a long-standing feud. Although his role is pivotal, Brosnan in
no way hogs the limelight: 'I saw The Nephew as an ensemble piece
that showed off the talents of all those involved. We had a wonderful cast
that included the likes of Donal McCann and Sinead Cusack. When I look
at the film, I can tell that they were passionate about it; they really
brought it to life. I'm very proud of it.'
As producer of The Nephew,
Brosnan is following in the footsteps of the likes of Steven Spielberg
and Robert Redford. On reflection, though, Brosnan believes that the producer's
job is far from glamorous.
The pressure is like a vice at times.
You want the film to be rewarding for everyone involved, because you're
the one who set the wheels in motion. It's like parenting; you're dealing
with people's egos and talents, and trying to foresee problems.'
|Sky Movies snapped up
The Nephew after major film companies blew hot and cold over whether
a film based on a strong storyline, rather than lots of action, would be
able to compete against the big blockbusters
'It's hard when you're up against
the big budget films to get noticed,' says Brosnan. 'Am I disappointed
that we won't be showing The Nephew at the cinema? No I'm not actually.
Knowing how hard it is to make a hit these days, I'd rather we appeared
on the small screen. I couldn't be happier that the film is premiering
on Sky Movies.'
According to Brosnan 'most of the
characters in The Nephew are complex, fractured people'. His own
life has also been peppered with upheavals and complexities, but Brosnan
himself seems to have come out less shaken than a secret agent's Martini.
Born in 1953, in a small town 20
miles outside Dublin, Pierce Brendan Brosnan spent his early years moving
between grandparents, aunts and uncles, while his mother struggled to set
up a home for him. His father vanished from the scene when Pierce was just
two, leaving his mother to bring up her son alone at a time when single-parenthood
in Ireland was still seen as something shameful. So she fled to England
to secure a home for him where they would be free from sneers or gossip.
Pierce joined his mother in south London in 1964.
'I was sent to a very large comprehensive
school and you had to be pretty tough,' he recalls. 'Being Irish, I was
open to all the Irish jokes, some of which were very cruel. Sometimes it
felt like swimming up river -but, ultimately, I had the most wonderful
The move to London also opened his
eyes to the world of cinema - a world which would shape the rest of his
life. The first film I saw in London was Goldfinger, on the big
screen and in glorious Technicolor. All I'd seen back in Ireland were black
and white Old Mother Riley and Norman Wisdom films. From then on, I wanted
to be an actor, but I didn't want to be James Bond - the baddies such as
Odd Job were the ones who fascinated me.
Iím a bit of a hybrid now. I was
educated as an actor in England and did rep theatre there. But I'm Irish
by birth, by nature and, I think, in spirit,' he says. 'I have the great
luxury of moving between Ireland, England, New York and LA. The canvas
is broad for me and I take a bit of those countries with me wherever I
Apart from the movies, the other
great influence on his life was his late wife Cassandra Harris. After meeting
and marrying the Australian model in London in the late Seventies, they
went on to enjoy a romantic and secure marriage in Hollywood. Unlike so
many, fame and fortune brought them closer. If either of them had to work
away from home, they would try and arrange their hectic schedules so they
could travel together. They were inseparable.
Brosnan and Cassie were together
in London in 1987 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 'It was not
a shadow or a small tumour - this had invaded Cassie's being,' recalls
Brosnan. Cassandra lost her fight for life on 28 December 1991, just after
their llth wedding anniversary.
Overnight, Pierce became a single
parent. Since then he has remained extremely close to his two stepchildren,
and has had to cope with juggling a career and nurturing their 15-year-old
son Sean through some difficult years. 'I took him out of school at the
beginning of the year, and he joined me on the set of a movie I was making
in Canada with Richard Attenborough. I got him a tutor and had him there
beside me. Keely, my girlfriend, is writing a book, and my youngest son
is still a baby, so they're able to travel with me, which is fantastic.'
character is more like him? Brady, the strong family man with a sad history,
or the urbane, adventurous Bond?
'Bond and Brady are both facets of
me,' he admits. 'Like Brady, I identify with being a father and having
to cope with the loss of someone and having children. Bond is pure fantasy.
You take all the mythology and slowly you find that the shoes get more
comfortable and you begin to fill out the role. I'd like to think that
I've played my part in bringing the character back to life; he seemed to
be on rocky ground for a while.' As he thinks about the characters he's
been privileged to play, he pauses and smiles. 'I get to do it all,' he
says. 'I get to play at being James Bond, or to play at making an independent
movie. And I also get to stay home with my kids. Sometimes it's tough going,
but you get through.' Brosnan shrugs pragmatically. 'You adjust.'
By Nick Bradshaw
Photographs by Darien Davis
The Nephew Sky Premier, Saturday 12 December, 8pm; Wednesday
23 December, 8pm