Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.
Pegged as the best Bond since Sean Connery, the former "Remington Steele" star takes a hard look at himself.
From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, Nov/Dec 97
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And then came Cassandra Harris. "We met in 1974, shortly after I left drama school. I met her through David Harris, one of Richard Harris' nephews, who had always spoken at drama school about his aunt. One day I was reading for a part in Chelsea, and he said, 'You must come out and visit.' I went out to visit and I walked into his house, his aunt's house, and on the dressing table there was this photograph of this beautiful woman, with two little children beside her. And I said, 'This is your aunt? My God, what a fine looking woman.'
"I think it was a few days later that I actually met Cassie. She'd come back, she'd been working abroad on a film. I saw her coming down the staircase and I thought, 'What a beautiful-looking woman.' I never for an instant thought she was someone I'd spend 17 years of my life with. I didn't think of wooing her, or attempting to woo her; I just wanted to enjoy her beauty and who she was.
"But David Harris started doing a bit of matchmaking and it was, 'Really? She does like me? Really, she thinks that? Oh, how fascinating.' I was doing a play in the West End at that time, and I began visiting the cousin a lot. He was a friend from grammar school but not one of my best buddies. But he became a best buddy. And before we knew it, you fall in love. It just worked. It took a certain courage on both our parts. Cassie was Australian. She had trained as an actress in Australia and done television. She had her own talk show, 'Beauty and the Beast.'
"She left Australia and came to London. She was walking down the street one day, by the London Palladium. Car pulls up. Black man gets out. Says, 'You're beautiful; I want to take your photograph.' She went back to her apartment and says, 'Some black guy came out and gave me his card. It says Sammy Davis Jr. Who's Sammy Davis Jr.?' He wanted to take her picture for a magazine.
"We courted, we wooed, we set up a little house together, in Wimbledon, we posed as man and wife. We lived with Cassie's young children, Charlotte and Christopher. I'm acting, she's acting. I'm acting more than she is, as she's bringing up the children. And suddenly I had a family. And two children. It didn't feel like that. It just felt so right, only because Cassie had such faith in me and we had such a wonderful outlook on life. I didn't feel like a father, I wasn't a father; I was just Pierce. And then I became Daddy Pierce. And then I became Daddy." The couple married in 1977.
Money was tight and that worried Brosnan. "We were scratching along. And it would be, 'Are you sure you picked the right man here, woman? So far so good? Are we hanging in here?' Because she could have had anyone. There were lots of men around her at that time when I met her. Merchant bankers. Actors. She moved in circles which I was not accustomed to. But I was an actor. I was a purist. I was hungry. And I was determined and I was ambitious. I was also someone who was loving, someone who was caring, someone who was funny, someone who was artistic. Someone who had dreams and passion. She had gone through a lot of suffering herself, a lot of negative pain."
With this kind of love to nurture and protect, Brosnan worked as hard as he could. "I was doing theater, traveling to Glasgow, to Manchester. I did two West End productions, a play by Tennessee Williams, and then I got a part as an IRA terrorist in a movie called The Long Good Friday, my first film. I also did a TV movie about Irish horse racing. Some American producers saw it and offered me the lead in this miniseries called 'Manions of America,' about the Irish potato famine." It promised to be good money and great exposure.
Soon James Bond entered their lives. Harris landed a part in For Your Eyes Only, with Roger Moore. "During my early years as an actor, Bond was never a desire," says Brosnan. "But when Cassie was playing in For Your Eyes Only, then, of course, it became a joke. I would do my own impersonations of James Bond. Just for fun. Just driving her home from work, or going out, or talking about her experience on it. But even so, it was not an ambition to play James Bond. I had my sights set on other aspects of the work."
With the proceeds from her Bond role and some of Brosnan's work, they managed to scrape enough money together in 1979 to buy their first house. "The house was in foreclosure and it was pretty run down. But it was magic. There was nothing; we were just living on the floorboards. It had damp old wallpaper, and I started stripping it and renovating it and working on it and sanding it and repointing the fireplaces and knocking down walls. We did it all ourselves; we had no money at all for that sort of work."
They certainly didn't have any money for luxuries, such as traveling overseas. As a youth, Brosnan had been captivated by America, relishing the romantic images it conjured up in his mind. He would soon have a chance to see them firsthand.
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