Redbook: Pierce Brosnan's Second Chance at Success and Love
His oldest son, Christopher, 24, an assistant director on the film, comes by to ask his dad to sign a baseball cap for a crew member. "Sean just called," Brosnan says to Christopher, referring to his l4-year-old son, who is also in England to be with his dad. "He said that he's at a friend's house. Do you know where that might be?" he asks in a tone that says he's more interested in his son's safety than his actual whereabouts. Christopher answers, "Yeah, Dad. Don't worry. He knows to be home in time to see you."
Wait a minute. Plastic lawn chairs? Rented trailer? Nike high-tops? Daddy duties? This hardly seems like the same man who survives a parachute plunge from an airplane at 30,000 feet, seduces gorgeous women on every assignment, drinks martinis (shaken, not stirred, of course), and saves the world from World War III-all without getting a wrinkle in his tuxedo or a scratch on his face. But despite the seductive, sultry accent and that perfect hair, Pierce Brosnan isn't James Bond. In fact, he's much, much more.
"What Do You Mean, Pregnant?"
So at 44, Brosnan is now immersed in diapers again. His son Sean is from his marriage to actress Cassandra Harris, who died in December 1991 of ovarian cancer. Brosnan is also the adoptive father of Charlotte. 25, and Christopher, Harris's children from her previous marriage to Dermot Harris, a British producer who died of a heart attack in 1986. But this time was much different for Brosnan, especially because Smith, 34, is a first-time mother.
After he got over the shock of the news, Brosnan enjoyed being a part of each phase of the pregnancy: "Keely bought all of the books and gave me a blow-by-blow account of what was happening to her body and to the child. I felt greatly involved." Smith laughs, "Well, Pierce called me Textbook Mom because, being a journalist, I pored over books on pregnancy throughout my entire term." But since Dylan Thomas's birth on January 13, 1997, Smith has cut down on her "how-to" reading. Besides Smith's strong belief in the importance of breast-feeding she has adopted a new philosophy about parenthood. "We're making it up as we go," she says, "and our big expression now is "So far, so good."
For a man who has seen such dark days, such minute-by-minute living is more than enough.
Living with the Sharp Edge of Pain
It was only six years ago that Brosnan found his life in complete disarray. His career hit an all-time low, and his personal life was shattered from watching his wife wither away from the agony of cancer. She was his best friend, the mother of his children, and his companion for 17 years.
The couple met in
the mid-seventies in London, introduced by a mutual friend. Brosnan, who
was Irish-born and had lived in London with his mother since he was 11,
remembers, "I was totally bowled over by this beauty." It didn't take long
for her to feel the same. The couple lived together for almost four years
before they were married in 1977. Their early years together were marked
by career struggles as they both tried to forge names for themselves as
actors while caring for her two children and, eventually, Sean, the son
they had together.
In 1986, Broccoli was looking for a replacement for Roger Moore in his James Bond series, and Brosnan became his first choice. But the deal that Brosnan had signed with NBC obligated him to finish out the season plus another year (because of the Bond discussions, NBC added one more season of Remington Steele), conflicting with the Bond shooting schedule. After extensive negotiations and a lot of heartache, the part went to Timothy Dalton. Brosnan remembers with great frustration how manipulated he felt at the time."The only thing I could think was that it was just business," he says, "and it wasn't until six months later that I began to think, I could have been there, I could have done that. But it also gave me a hunger and a desire to get there. I just thought, F- you, I'm going to get there."
A year later, Cassie
was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "Life," Brosnan says. "turned around
on a dime." With the same determination and love that Brosnan and Harris
brought to their life together, they fought the debilitating disease. They
tried various treatments, but to no avail. Ultimately, they spent the last
four years of her life just being together as a family. Brosnan remembers,
"Coming through an illness like cancer is dark and cruel, watching someone's
life dwindle away. And yet at the same time it is intoxicating because
every second is so precious. When you're away from the needles and away
from the knives and the black tunnel as it were, you have a beautiful sunny
day, and you just carry that with you." With Cassie gone, Brosnan found
himself alone for the first time in 17 years, and a single father of three.
The following day, at the final dinner, Brosnan asked Smith to join him at his table; fireworks went off for both. "That was it. We've been together ever since," says Smith, with a distracted look in her eye as she thinks back to that first night. Brosnan is equally dreamy about their early courtship: "I knew I wanted to be a part of this woman's life, and I wanted her to be a part of my life. It just felt wrong when she wasn't there."
But becoming a part of the Brosnan clan hasn't been the easiest thing for Smith. "It is not an easy position to be in with such a strong family who lost someone very prominent," he admits. Still, the kids adore her, no doubt in part because she's made it so easy for them to warm up to her. As Smith says, "I'm not trying to take anybody's place. I'm here to offer my love, understanding, and compassion to the mix of this family." Brosnan agrees, "I don't feel like a single parent. I have a wonderful partner now."
An obstacle in their relationship has been dealing with the constant pressure from the public to get married. Brosnan says, "People think we should get married because we have a child out of wedlock. I think people just feel comfortable with the norm. It just works the way it works right now." He pauses for a moment, then says, "All I know is that we are very happy and that my children are happy too." As for Smith, she says simply, "I'm so happy with the way things are right now. He's my best friend, my partner, my lover, he makes me laugh, he excites me, and he's the one I want to spend all of my time with."
For Brosnan and Smith, happiness means quite a bit of travel with kids in tow. Smith, who went back to work as a correspondent on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries three weeks after Dylan was born (bringing Dylan with her to the studio), recently left that show and started as a news correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. During the past year, with the making of Tomorrow Never Dies, Dylan and Smith traveled back and forth between California, England, and Ireland to see Brosnan. As for Sean, he stayed with Brosnan the whole time. "Sean is the main concern," Brosnan explains. "He is 14, a very vulnerable and tender age. He has gone through a lot, the loss of a mother and finding his position within the family."
Brosnan's solution is to have Sean travel with him on all his movie locations; he has tutors who travel with them. "It is not the most satisfactory arrangement but, at the same time, he has a wonderful world of travel, different cultures, different people, and different walks of life," Brosnan says. "When you're away at the ends of the earth, when you're in a foreign country-as spectacular as these places are-you get very lonely, especially if you don't have your family with you."
Old Lessons Come in Handy
However difficult it is to manage the logistics of a family with so many members at varying stages, Brosnan is finding that experience counts for a lot. "I have more patience now than when I was a younger father," he says. He also appreciates the wisdom-and perspective-that comes with age. "In your forties, when you've lived a life and you've experienced death and you've experienced birth, you cannot help but think about certain things. So, you change."
One of the ways he's
changed is that Brosnan doesn't feel the same pressure to prove himself
on-screen -especially since the success of GoldenEye. Last November,
he took a supporting role in
The Mirror Has Two Faces with Barbra
Streisand and Jeff Bridges. Then came Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!
with Jack Nicholson, followed by last spring's Dante's Peak. And
if all of that weren't enough to keep him busy, Brosnan has started up
his own production company, Irish Dream Time, which is planning to remake
the Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway 1968 crime film, The Thomas Crown Affair,
in which he'll star.