The actor has been through many personal hardships, including losing his wife, but he still went after his dreams.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 3, 2020. It has since been updated.
The dashing silver screen stars paint pictures of a beautiful world filled with attractive people for us. But, often we forget about the difficult pasts they may have lived through. Many of them have lived through the same good and bad experiences that the rest of the world has been through. One of those stars, who has entertained us as the famed 007 agent, has lived through the loss of a spouse and grew up without parents.
The dashing Pierce Brosnan who gained enormous fame as a British intelligence spy, might still be the favorite Bond for many people. Unlike his never-say-die character, who's fought off villains single-handedly, Brosnan has had a hard time slaying his internal demons. He was "scarred" at a young age by the upbringing he had and those negative experiences stayed with him for a long time before he could make his peace. The 66-year-old from Navan in County Meath, Ireland, was born in 1953, as the only child of Thomas Brosnan and Mary May Smith. However, he didn't get their love. Thomas left their small family when Pierce was an infant and his mother left him with her parents. She moved to London to study to be a nurse, according to the Irish Times, and returned to the village in southern Ireland twice a year.
"Because I was so solitary," he told The Guardian, "and we lived on the outskirts of town, across the River Boyne, I was an outsider. An only child." When his grandparents died and his relatives couldn't keep him, he lived in lodgings with mill workers. "The three lodgers stayed in a long room with iron beds with old mattresses. At the end of the room, there was my little bed, with a curtain around it, so the light wouldn't shine in when the older guys came home," he told The Guardian. Even his time at school is a memory he dislikes revisiting. Run by the Christian Brothers, an Irish order, Brosnan described it as "cruel" and "ugly", according to the SUN UK. The stories of the order and the rampant child abuse will haunt even those who read about it.
Growing up in harsh conditions, Brosnan learned methods of self-preservation that lasted a lifetime. "It wasn’t easy for me and it made me wary of what life could throw at you. You learn to close off certain sides of yourself as a form of self-protection until you begin to realize you don’t have to protect yourself anymore and those defenses you’ve put up have become the problem," he said. He has never been able to "entirely unburden" himself of the past, but has managed to "find peace of mind." "I’m the same person I was when I started out. I’d like to think I’m much wiser and even more open as an individual than when I was younger and still scarred in many ways by my upbringing," he said. The actor, who grew up feeling so alone in life, went to work quite early in life as a commercial artist before he discovered theatre. He left for London in 1964 at the age of 11 and eventually worked in a studio.
"I came upon acting almost accidentally while I was working as a graphic artist in London at a small studio — although I basically cleaned the office and made tea for people. One day I was talking to a guy in the photo department about movies, and he said you should come along to the Oval House Theatre, they’re doing workshops," he said.
Brosnan had no idea what a workshop was at the time, let alone realize that he was soon to discover something he would be passionate about for the rest of his life. What he learned that day, made him feel excited about a career as an actor. Eventually, he made his dream possible. His earliest film credit is from 1980 and two years later when he was working on the TV series Remington Steele at the age of 31 is when he first met his father.
“I didn’t see Tom Brosnan until I was about 31. I was shooting Remington Steele in Ireland, and he showed up one Sunday. We sat down and we had a cup of tea. After we drank all the tea, we went downstairs and started drinking Guinness. Then he got on a bus. I never saw him again. He died," he said.
His first James Bond film in 1995 propelled him to a level of stardom he had been unaware of before. He still values that role deeply and calls it the "great gift of his life".
"I had great success with the role and it’s a gift that keeps on giving in many respects. It was my chance to be centre-stage and enjoy all the attention and fame and fortune that comes with that. I’m forever grateful for Bond as the role came along at a time when I really needed that kind of a gift in my life. At the time I was very worried about my children," he said.
His wife, Cassandra Harris, had died in 1991 and he needed to find work that would give him more time with his children, Charlotte Brosnan, Sean Brosnan, Christopher Brosnan. He became both mom and dad to his kids when he had neither around growing up.
Source: Getty Images | Photos by Carlos Alvarez and Frazer Harrison