Grand: Why Is This Man Average?
He may play a sexy superspy, but our cover guy is actually quite representative of today's grandparents.
"When it comes to grandparents in the media, it's hard to shake the image of Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies, or Grandpa Walton. But if you really want to see an example of today's average American grandparent, meet Pierce Brosnan.
The average American becomes a first-time grandparent in his or her mid- to late 40s, and so did Brosnan, 52, whose daughter Charlotte gave birth to Isabelle Sophie in 1998. And though he exudes debonair charm onscreen, Brosnan hasn't led a charmed life. His father left when he was a baby; he was raised by his grandparents until the age of 6, when they died; his first wife died of ovarian cancer; one child was in a serious car accident, while his two oldest have battled substance abuse problems. His success is all the more remarkable because, always, family comes first. Brosnan calls himself a "homebody," even though he often films in exotic locales, because his family travels with him- "Home," he says, "is wherever I am."
The Remington Steele role-described as "part James Bond, part Inspector Clouseau" - consolidated his position as the prime candidate to replace Roger Moore as James Bond. In 1986, Remington Steele was cancelled after six seasons, and Broccoli was ready to start shooting the next Bond film. The timing seemed perfect until all the publicity about Brosnan as Bond caused the summer reruns of Remington Steele to spike in the ratings. The network rescinded the cancellation and expected Brosnan to honor the last year of his contract. Not wanting to be the "bad guys" who spoiled Brosnan's chance at the big time, NBC offered to allow Brosnan to film in Europe near the Bond sets. But Broccoli didn't like the idea of his big-screen James Bond appearing simultaneously in a different role on TV, and chose to cast actor Timothy Dalton as Bond instead.
In 1987, Remington Steele was cancelled, and Brosnan moved on to other movie roles. The lesser demands were providential; Harris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and began a four-year battle that ended with her death in 1991. Brosnan became not only a widower, but a single father of three children between the ages of 5 and 18 too.
While Brosnan coped with his grief and made a few unmemorable thrillers, the James Bond franchise was also languishing. Legal battles had put future movies in limbo after Dalton's second outing as Bond, and Dalton moved on to other roles. In 1994, once again in command of the Bond film empire, Broccoli offered the James Bond role to Brosnan. As the first James Bond who hadn't yet been born when Ian Fleming published his first 007 novel, it was perhaps appropriate that Brosnan made his debut in GoldenEye, the first Bond film not to be based on a Fleming book.
About the same time, Brosnan met TV journalist Keely Shaye Smith, and the relationship slowly grew from caution to friendship to more. They were living together when Smith became pregnant with son Dylan, born in 1997. The next year, daughter Charlotte gave birth to Isabelle Sophie, Brosnan's first grandchild. Brosnan and Smith had planned their wedding for 2000, but son Sean, then a teenager, was in a serious car accident and the family chose to give him all their attention. The wedding finally happened in 2001, as did the birth of youngest son Paris.
Brosnan today has his own production company, Irish Dreamtime, which produced the film Evelyn, in which he played an unemployed Irishman battling the government for custody of his three children. It's probably the role that, for Brosnan, hit closest to home. When asked how his life affected his performance, Brosnan told Us magazine, "Living through and surviving the loss of a loved one-the mother of your children and your partner in life of 17 years standing-to just keep up and keep going on, surviving and working and paying the rent, making sure your children are secure and loved and that you are the one that they can come to-I don't know how to explain it, really: You just have to do it. You accept the knowledge that you have to go on, then you put the best face on everything and just do it and weather through and endure the rough times until you get to calmer waters where you just draw breath and say, 'I survived it'."
Whether or not there is another Bond in Brosnan's future is up in the air. His four film contract is over, he has become an American citizen, and there's been talk of a new, younger Bond to interact with some hot "Bond babes." Brosnan says he will be content either way; being Bond is nice, but his real life is elsewhere. When asked to name his greatest accomplishment, he says, "I think that my personal achievement is really keeping a family together, keeping our children on track as much as possible, finding love a second time around and having a good life."
Spoken like the truly typical grandparent.