A GRAND LIFE
After enduring his fair share of disappointment and tragedy in life, Pierce Brosnan has attained a measure of serenity in his sixties that he never expected to find. He’s been happily married for over two decades, he’s recently become a grandfather, and he’s enjoying a pleasant resurgence in his film career, alternating between playing dashing romantic leads, as well as menacing Bond-like government operatives, as he did in last year’s, The November Man.
This September, Brosnan finds himself playing both kinds of character, showing proof of his enduring appeal and versatility. In the film, No Escape, he plays a former spy who uses his special skills to help a vacationing American couple (Owen Wilson and Lake Bell) escape from a militant uprising in Southeast Asia. For the romantic comedy, Some Kind Of Beautiful, he finds himself in the role of a Cambridge professor involved with two sensationally beautiful women: Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek. For Brosnan, work remains an abiding, although secondary, passion in life.
“I still love making films,” Brosnan says. “It’s wonderful to be on a film set and it’s fun playing different kinds of characters that feed my creative instincts and allow my imagination to run wild. I also still think I can be better with each role, adding layers to my work that benefit from my own experiences and whatever wisdom I’ve gained with each passing year. The only drawback is that I find it stressful to be separated from my family for several months at a time. I have a very close relationship with my wife and children, and it hits me as hard as ever when I’m not able to spend my days at home with my family. I miss them so much every day I’m away.”
In the meantime, the 62-year-old Brosnan continues to maintain a lavish home in Kauai, Hawaii, where he and his wife Keely Shaye-Smith spend several months each year. Their 17-year-old son, Dylan, began working as a model for Saint Laurent Men’s Collection line last Autumn, after being spotted in Malibu by creative director, Hedi Slimane. Pierce and Keely are also are parents to a younger son, Paris, 14.
STRIPLV: Pierce, No Escape is another action film that comes on the heels of your work in The November Man and Survivor. Do you feel you’re having a second coming as a Bond-like figure?
BROSNAN: I had stayed away from the genre for many years, because I wanted to try my hand at all the other kinds of characters I wanted to play. It wasn’t easy for a time to find those roles, but I’ve worked very hard to carry on and do interesting work. But I always felt that there was unfinished business in getting back into the action genre and I enjoy the tension and physicality involved. It’s also a good excuse to stay in decent shape.
STRIPLV: You seem to be working more than ever these days.
BROSNAN: This business has a tendency to be feast or famine. I’ve enjoyed working with some outstanding directors like Susanne Bier (Love is All You Need) and Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer) and being part of a lot of great stories and wonderful casts. When you’ve lived a good part of your life on a movie set, you never get tired of the camaraderie and the spirit that comes with the job. It’s been pleasantly surprising to be working this often. At one point lately, I had done seven movies in two years, which is more than I’ve ever worked. It makes you hungrier for more.
STRIPLV: You’re also playing another Lothario-like romantic figure in Some Kind of Beautiful. What can you tell us about your amorous professor?
BROSNAN: Richard has two passions in life: romantic poetry and beautiful women. The latter pursuit is the more dangerous one, which leads to a lot of confusion and complications, which are mostly his fault—all of which show the absurd roads that love often takes. He gets into a lot of trouble, most of which is his fault, because he’s an incurable womanizer who has difficulty curbing his romantic urges. Love can often lead us down some absurd roads and my character’s life is a case in point.
STRIPLV: Did you ever go through a womanizing phase in your own life?
BROSNAN: When I was younger perhaps. But I was never interested in one-night stands or having a lot of superficial relationships. I’ve also been married twice and have enjoyed raising two sets of children, and all that takes up a lot of time. I’m a man who’s very comfortable with the idea of marriage. I lived for 17 years with my first wife, Cassie, and now I’ve spent 21 years with Keely. That speaks for itself. Keely and I live a very beautiful and calm life together, and she has never objected to the fact that I spend a lot of time away at work, and not even if I’m working with beautiful co-stars like Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek! (smiles)
STRIPLV: Do you find marriage easy, as compared to other couples whose relationships seem to fall apart, especially when it comes to Hollywood couples?
BROSNAN: I think I’ve been blessed twice in my life by meeting very intelligent and resilient women. I never expected to fall in love again the way I did with Cassie, but then I met Keely and I knew I had found someone with whom I could share my life. With Keely, we’ve been able to solve our problems in a very comfortable way without ever letting things get out of hand. Every couple needs to find an accommodation that allows them to live happily and harmoniously together. But you have to work at it and be very attentive to keeping the spirit and passion alive.
STRIPLV: Are you a better father today than ever?
BROSNAN: I’m wiser and more attentive to certain things that you notice about your children as they grow older, especially during their teenage years, which are the most complicated. I’ve also had Keely by my side, who holds our home together and is a very smart and caring mother. She’s a strong woman who has helped make my life so much richer, and together we’ve been able to enjoy a wonderful life together with our children.
STRIPLV: What kind of effect has spending time living in Hawaii had on you?
BROSNAN: It’s a form of paradise on earth. We have a very beautiful cottage by the sea, fairly isolated, and very peaceful. I like to describe it as Ireland, except the heating is turned on! I get up a six o’clock, I make myself a cup of coffee, sit on the terrace and watch the waves roll onto the beach. Then I’ll have breakfast with Keely and the boys and spend the rest of the morning painting. Then it’s lunchtime, maybe a few hours of surfing, reading, relaxing in the sun, and then before you know it, you go: “What’s for dinner?” It’s a very simple and peaceful life. There are very few things that can trouble you, not even my occasionally dour Irish soul.
STRIPLV: What has your marriage to Keely meant to you?
BROSNAN: Much more than you can describe in any short answer. She’s a very strong woman who has been a truly loving and caring partner in life. She’s made me a better father and man, and we’re so blessed to have been able to share our lives together. She allows me to be myself and we’ve been able to build our relationship over the years, and together with my children, that’s my greatest accomplishment in life.
STRIPLV: You’ve often spoken about how your Catholic faith has been very important to you. Do you still have that same faith today?
BROSNAN: Yes. Even if my whole world were to fall apart tomorrow, I would still remain devoutly Catholic. I’ve always tried to enjoy life and make the most of things, even during the lowest and most gut-wrenching moments where you feel very lost. But you need to find a way to pull yourself through, and your faith and your will are what’s going to drag you up out of the darkness. We all want to be happy, but it doesn’t come easily.
STRIPLV: Do people often come up to you and strike up a conversation when they recognize you?
BROSNAN: It happens, sure, and when it does, I try to be very open and natural and talk about everyday things. I enjoy the ability to push away all the fame crap and just enjoy the moment and I hope people come away with a good feeling. That’s the good side of being recognizable—you get to meet so many interesting people. You don’t want there to be any strangeness that exists between you and someone who may have seen your work and wants to just have a chat or say hello. I appreciate the good wishes. I never want to feel isolated from the world, and so I love being able to wander about in London or Paris wherever I like. I just have to put on a cap and sunglasses and try to look very anonymous. (laughs)
STRIPLV: Your son Dylan has recently embarked on a possible career as a model. How do you feel about that?
BROSNAN: His mother and I are very happy for him. It’s an opportunity that came at the right time just after he graduated (from high school) and before he begins his studies in film school (in Los Angeles). It all came about by pure accident. He was discovered by Hedi Slimane (Vogue Magazine) while sitting at a juice bar coffee shop in Malibu. He took some photos, and gave her his phone number. The next thing we know is that he’s doing a big fashion shoot for Vogue. But this is really a temporary job, which gives him the chance to earn some money for himself and meet some interesting people. Dylan is also a talented writer and his real aspiration is to become a director. I’m very proud of him.
STRIPLV: Your life has been marked by both great and tragic moments. When you look back, what do you make of it all?
BROSNAN: There have been tragedies, yes, but I’ve also had great fortune in life. I aspired to be in the movies, I wanted to become a movie star, I wanted to be Bond, I wanted all the grand things that came with that life. I got it all.