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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 2)

Brosnan puffs on his cigar. These childhood memories seem so fresh, so vivid to him, even after all these years. "I made the big mistake of telling some of this in the early days of 'Remington Steele.' So the doors have been opened and it is so hard to close those kind of doors. But as you go back through the doors, when you get asked the questions, it comes with a certain form of therapy, when you think about it, when you conjure it up, when you paint the picture as the years go on...Catholic upbringing. Choirboy. Altar boy. The whole nine yards. It was an Irish childhood.

"I lived there until the age of 10 and then, finally, when my mother passed her finals, in 1964, I went to live with her in London. The reunion with my mother was joyous. Finally, I had my mother. And that was my first journey, out of Ireland, to England. When you go to a very large city, a metropolis like London, as an Irish boy of 10, life suddenly moves pretty fast. From a little school of, say, seven classrooms in Ireland, to this very large comprehensive school, with over 2,000 children. And you're Irish. And they make you feel it; the British have a wonderful way of doing that, and I had a certain deep sense of being an outsider.

"My mother was working full-time as a nurse. We had a small apartment in a house in south London. There was an old lady in there, Mrs. Slanie, and when I would come home from school she would take care of me and bring me into her living room with chintz and all these knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. She had budgies (canaries), she had two of them, and I'd sit with her after school. It was a world I just wasn't used to. She was very English. The tone of her voice, everything just so. And I got to know the street, the street we lived in. Slowly but surely I made friends and had a group of friends.

"In Ireland, I had been brought up on a diet of old Mother Riley and Norman Wisdom movies, which would not translate to readers in America, but they're black-and-white comedies made here. In the summer of '64, my mother and Bill, my stepfather, took me to the movies and I saw Goldfinger. And here I sat in this cinema, on Putney High Street, with this spectacle, this magical event taking place before my eyes, called James Bond. The music, the women, the shimmering silhouettes of nakedness, and this wonderful woman lying on the bed. Three, four weeks before, I had been in Ireland, in a tiny town, and here I was in the great metropolis, London. Now, maybe the seed was sown there, I don't know, but I thought James Bond was very cool.

"I wanted to be a commercial artist, I wanted to be an artist. I still am, I still paint. At 18, I was working at this little studio in Putney, south London. I was a trainee commercial artist. I went into work one morning, I was hanging my coat up, and I was talking to a fellow colleague who was in the photographic department. We were talking about movies. I loved movies. I had no real dreams to be an actor, but I suppose being in movies had a magical quality to it. And he said, 'Well, I belong to a theater company. A theater club actually. You should come down.'

"And I did. I went down that evening. It was a winter's evening and I hopped on the subway, the tube, and entered through the doors of this very funky, happening place, where there were Black Panther evenings, experimental theater companies, and there were jugglers and mimes. It was in the late '60s--'69, '70, I think--and I joined this workshop.

"I was petrified. I had been asked to be in school plays but always declined. I thought they were rather... I just had no desire to be in plays. But here I found myself in this workshop. A rather dark studio, with about 30 other people doing voice and movement exercises, which were completely alien to me. But so exhilarating. There was no censorship or shame allotted to one and you could be anything you wanted to be.

"So I went that Thursday. I went twice a week. I went three times a week. I went down to the Oval House Theater Club every night after work and eventually gave up the job in commercial art. And we formed a theater company. I was the youngest member, working with people who were actors, who were teachers, musicians, writers. We formed a company called the Oval House Theater Company. During the day I would work. I was a waiter. I cleaned houses. I worked in a factory, a bottling factory, just to supplement my income. It could only be a job, really, that you could do either in the morning or in the late evening.

"When I found acting, or when acting found me, it was a liberation. It was a stepping stone into another life, away from a life that I had, and acting was something I was good at, something which was appreciated. That was a great satisfaction in my life.

"I did fringe theater for about two years. And because I didn't have any formal training in acting, I decided to go to drama school. I went for three years, at a place called The Drama Centre, in north London. I did repertory theater and slowly got roles on TV and in films."

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