What do you do after
you’ve saved the girl, made the
perfect martini, and lived your
(you start your second act)
Story by: David Hochman
Photos by: Cliff
(December 2, 2005)
Pierce Brosnan is no longer James
Bond—and that has him taking stock of his life. Now 52, he is still staggeringly
handsome, but the thicket of dark wavy hair is more salt than pepper; tiny
crinkles fan out around his Remington Steele-blue eyes. But the biggest
change in Brosnan isn't cosmetic. Something's different within the actor
as well. Who knew that beneath his dapper and debonair on-screen persona
lived a poetic and brooding Irish soul?
Sitting in a brasserie in Santa Monica,
the star of the new comedic thriller The Matador hoisted a few glasses
of beer to toast his remarkable journey: from his traumatic childhood to
a chance meeting that would change his life to his next adventure. It is
a trip he'll no longer be taking in an Aston Martin. But that suits Brosnan—Pierce
GETTING OLDER—AND BOLDER
"Now that I'm becoming an old lion,
I feel this wonderful sense of liberation. I've always felt free, but with
the end of the role that defined me, I can shake the cage a bit and stretch.
People are used to seeing me play a certain type—maybe too used to it—which
is why it will fill me with the greatest joy when they see me as a very
un-Bond-like character in The Matador [Brosnan plays a hit man who's
lost his nerve]. For the first 20 minutes, the audience will be unsure
of what to make of me.
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
|What a great feeling for an actor
to be able to do something cool, hip, quirky, out-of-the-box. Bond never
felt like acting to me. It was the same schtick over and over again. But,
hey, I created the stereotype, I can destroy it. This is the destroying
SPENDING TIME WITH THE FAMILY
"After filming The Matador,
I said, 'I don't want to work.' and took a year off. It was the greatest
luxury of my life. My younger children [sons Dylan, 4, and Paris, 8; Brosnan
also has three older children: Charlotte, 33, and Christopher, 32, whom
he adopted, and Scan, 22] were center stage every day, so it was wonderful.
I'd get up. Squeeze some fresh orange juice. Go out. Snorkel around the
bay. Come back. Coffee would be made. Sit on the beach. Think about whether
I wanted to paint or go for a hike. Should I ride my bike? Should I go
for a kayak? Should I take the kids into town? No, maybe I'll just sit
and worry about it all."
"I'm an enthusiastic painter,"
“I grew up in southern Ireland on
the banks of the river Boyne. [When I was 4,] my mother went off to England
to be a nurse and find a new life. Thank heavens she did, otherwise I'd
probably have 10 kids and be working on a farm somewhere. Eventually, I
went to London to live with my mother and stepfather. It's a strange thing
when you're 11 years of age and you've lived in a cloistered country community
and you go off to the mighty city on a little propeller plane with a bottle
of holy water in one hand and rosary beads in the other, not knowing where
you'll end up. I went from a rural community to an educational glass menagerie
of more than 2,000 children, so I had to be strong. "
To SMALL, LIFE-CHANGING MOMENTS
"It was around the time of Bonnie
and Clyde that I became enamored with the beauty of Faye Dunaway, the cool
of Warren Beatty, and the sheer spectacle of that operatic violence. I
found a key there. I started looking at actors for the first time, seeing
them as men and women who were creating something in front of the camera.
I was about 18 and saw the movie in Putney, in South London, at a big,
old drafty cinema beside Putney Bridge. One guy would run in and open the
back door for the rest of us. That was going to the pictures. And it changed
To THE WOMAN WHO SAVED HIM
"I don't think I knew how lucky I
got when I met Keely Shaye Smith, this beautiful woman who became my wife.
I was a broken old wheel when she met me. It was in Mexico [in 1994]. She
was working for the Today show as a reporter, and I was sitting by the
pool at seven o'clock in the morning. I was with my son, who wanted to
swim at that hour. I wasn't looking—it was at a time in my life when I
was putting myself back together. [Brosnan's first wife, actress Cassandra
Harris, had died of ovarian cancer three years earlier.] Now we've been
together for 11 years, and it feels like yesterday. We're patient with
each other, and more than anything, we have faith-faith in our relationship,
faith in the future. I know it's not easy for my wife, because I've played
this man who runs around with all these beautiful women. But she knows
the real me, and she laughs. If the shoe was on the other foot, I
don't think we would have come this far. I'm not as strong."
To LITTLE GOLD MEN
“I'd love to win an Oscar. As a young
acting student in England, finding my feet, I'd watch those people take
the stage and think. That could be me. And then, of course, you get over
here and see the truth behind the curtain. But still, it would be magnificent
to win one of those little golden trophies. Not to mention, I think I'd
give a great speech."
WRESTLING WITH DEMONS
“I know what it's like to loathe
oneself. To feel that deep self-loathing. It's painful and ugly and f—ing
unwanted. And it gets in the way. I can dip in there, into the old black-Irish
melancholy. You think, Am I smart enough? Am I equipped enough to deal
with it all? You don't want it to happen, but it's part of life."
To FINDING PEACE
“I have religion. I have faith. I
have my beliefs. I know the power of prayer. My faith has kept me strong
in times of great distress and turmoil and has given me a touchstone with
myself and more. I don't have to genuflect every Sunday morning, though
when I'm away from the family, I'll do that. My church is out there, under
the stars, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway."
To THE NEXT GENERATION
“I've been a father of children who
step out of line, who fall off cliffs, who fall into the dark ether of
life. I've been a father since I was 23, and now I'm a grandfather, so
the circle widens. I have a son who's just becoming an actor and two little
men who are warriors and poets in the same breath. My 4-year-old has started
watching the Bond movies, which is a trip. He's impressed—or maybe he's
perplexed—by how Dad does that sort of thing. Are the bullets real?' he
wants to know. He told me last night he wants to be an actor. I said, 'Oh?
Well, we'll have to talk about this.' God, give me strength."
"There's glory in being alive
and working hard and having discipline," says Brosnan. "You can't think
about the pitfalls"