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Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.

Pegged as the best Bond since Sean Connery, the former "Remington Steele" star takes a hard look at himself.
Paul Chutkow
From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, Nov/Dec 97

(continued from page 1)

"Pierce owns the role now," Spottiswoode says between takes. "He's wonderful. He has great confidence. Wit. Irony. And he's a terribly nice man."

A few hours later, near the close of this long day's shoot, the man of the hour is back in his trailer, taking a breather. He takes off his shirt, towels down and checks his schedule with Adrian Bell, his personal assistant. Then he wraps the towel around his shoulders, stretches back on a big couch and lights a fine cigar, an El Rey del Mundo from Cuba. A perfect time for a smoke and a comforting way to decompress, to climb out from under the weight of the Bond persona.

Brosnan is 44 now, with a lot of character in his face, and he immediately comes across as a man's man, solid, balanced, comfortable with himself. Even with a high-profile $75 million investment riding on his shoulders. With visitors, either on the set or now in his trailer, Brosnan is exceptionally warm and gracious, and he gives no hint of arrogance or pretense. He's also a proud papa. As soon as he settles in for a chat, Brosnan is eager to show off the latest photos of Dylan Thomas, his new baby boy. And he coos, unabashedly, about Keely Shaye Smith, Dylan's mother and Brosnan's partner for the past three years. "Quite a photographer, isn't she? Wonderful eye."

Unlike some Hollywood actors with gargantuan egos, Brosnan comes off as both a refreshing surprise and a bit of a mystery. Could this new Bond actually be modest and gentle at his core? Could the actor now embodying one of the screen's biggest legends not have a head the size of Manhattan? What gives here? The answers soon come forth. For Pierce Brosnan has the Irish gift for gab; he's a born raconteur. Words flow from his lips like Guinness from a spout. And his candor is astonishing, almost as astonishing as the story he unfurls.

"Childhood was fairly solitary," Brosnan begins, puffing on his cigar. "I grew up in a very small town in southern Ireland. I never knew my father. He left when I was an infant and I was left in the care of my mother and my grandparents. To be Catholic in the '50s, and to be Irish Catholic in the '50s, and have a marriage which was not there, a father who was not there, consequently, the mother, the wife suffered greatly. My mother was very courageous. She took the bold steps to go away and be a nurse in England. Basically wanting a better life for her and myself. My mother came home once a year, twice a year. Consequently, there was a certain amount of early loss in that young boy's life.

"It wasn't all bleak. We lived on the outskirts of the town of Navan, so there was the countryside to play in. My grandfather was a really wonderful, kind, gentle man, and very well respected in the community. My grandmother was a darker person, I really can't speak very clearly about her, but she had a certain magic as well. Because I was so solitary, and we lived, as I say, on the outskirts of town, across the River Boyne, one was an outsider. An only child.

"Then my grandparents died, one after the other. And I lived with an aunt. Then I lived with an uncle. Eventually, though, they wanted to get on with their own lives and they didn't have room for a young boy. So I was sent to live with a woman named Eileen, who had a place in a poor part of town. She had her own children and she also had lodgers. She agreed to take Pierce in, and I moved upstairs with the lodgers, all grown men with jobs. One worked in the mill. One worked in a local bank. And then there was another bed for whoever came in visiting. There was this long room, and there were these iron beds with old mattresses on them. This is where the three lodgers were. At the very end of the room, there was my little bed. With a curtain around it, with newspapers pinned on it, so the light wouldn't shine in when the guys came home.

"I grew up being taught by the Christian brothers, who were dreadful, dreadful human beings. Just the whole hypocrisy. And the cruelness of their ways toward children. They were very sexually repressed. Bitter. Cowards, really. I have nothing good to say about them and will have nothing good to say about them. It was ugly. Very ugly. Dreadful. I learnt nothing from the Christian brothers--except shame.

"It sounds pretty bleak all of this, but that's what it was. No wonder I'm an actor. But you learn to be happy within all of that; you learn how to create your own happiness. And you learn to forgive. You learn to rise above it. And you learn to view people with a different kind of clarity, because they've hurt you and because there was no one there for you to go to. There was not this symbol, the father figure, or the mother. So you learned to find your own independence and survive. If you didn't know, you acted as if you did know.

"And Eileen was great to live with. I was surrounded by kids and out in the streets. And yet it was kind of strange, a bit like David Lynch in a way. Eileen was a big-bosomed woman, baking bread with the apron wrapped around her. A big, warm momma. And those were my last three years in Ireland."

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