Life Magazine: December 2,  2005

What do you do after you’ve saved the girl, made the 
perfect martini, and lived your dream job?

(you start your second act)

Click for Larger Image LIFE
Story by: David Hochman
Photos by:  Cliff Watts
(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 Brosnan—just fine.


"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.

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 period."


"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."


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"I'm an enthusiastic painter," says Brosnan..

“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. "


"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 my life."

Click for Larger Image Cheers:  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."


“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."


“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."


“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."


“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."


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"There's glory in being alive and working hard and having discipline," says Brosnan. "You can't think about the pitfalls"

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