By Emma Moylan

19th September 2019

Pierce Brosnan Young: Ireland, Fire Eating And Heartbreak

Pierce Brendan Brosnan is one of those actors we consider just as smooth and sophisticated in real life as we view him in his films. But who was Pierce Brosnan young?

We’ve gone from watching him have a license to kill as James Bond to wanting to strip him of his license to sing in Mamma Mia sorry, Pierce. Yet, we’ve still loved him all the way.

Pierce is now a stellar Hollywood name, with 20 awards and 22 nominations to his name. But where did the Irish actor start off and just who was Pierce Brosnan as a young man?

Irish Born And Raised

He might seem like the stereotype of an English gentleman but this actor is Irish through and through.

Brosnan was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, County Louth and is the only child of Thomas Brosnan and May Smith.

For 12 years, the family lived in Navan, County Meath; the town that Pierce considers his home town. Raised Roman Catholic, he attended a local school and served as an altar boy.

pierce brosnan young

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As a young child, his father abandoned the family and at the age of four, his mother moved to London, thus leaving him an orphan.

With his parents gone, it was left to his maternal grandparents to raise Pierce, however they passed away when Pierce was still a minor. After they passed away, he spent some time with his aunt and uncle but was ultimately sent to live in a Boarding House.

Pierce said of the experience:

“Childhood was fairly solitary. I grew up in a very small town called Navan in County Meath. 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 1950s, and to be Irish Catholic in the 1950s, 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.”

Leaving Ireland…

At 11 years old, Brosnan left Ireland and was reunited with his mother and her new partner William Carmichael in Longniddry in Scotland.

It was William that took Pierce to see his first James Bond film, Goldfinger, when he was just 11 years old.

Later on, the entire family moved back to London with Pierce being educated in Putney.

Pierce was nicknamed Irish at school and has spoken about his experience of moving from school in a small Irish village to a large metropolitan English one.

pierce brosnan as a young man

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He explained:

“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 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.”

Leaving School… He Became A Fire Eater

After leaving school at 16, Pierce actually attended Saint Martin’s School of Art where he trained in commercial illustration.

In 1969, Pierce came across a man teaching people how to eat fire. He explains:

“There was a big group of people in there but I noticed that there were women and they had their tops off.

So I thought I’d join in. This guy was a street performer and he was teaching us how to put the flames across the chest and the young ladies had to take their bras off – there were no bras then anyway. So I went to the workshop and I learnt how to fire-eat.”

Amazingly, this talent can still be found on his CV.

A few years later, Pierce found drama. He trained at the Drama Centre London.

Describing his experience with drama, he called it a ‘liberation’ and a ‘stepping stone into another life.

Pierce as a young man

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The Start Of His Career

After graduating from drama school in 1975, Pierce landed a job as an assistant stage manager at the York Theatre Royal.

He made his acting debut in Wait Until Dark, a play about a housewife who becomes the target of con-men looking for drugs hidden in a doll that her husband gained possession of.

Six months later, he was chosen to play McCabe in the British première of The Red Devil Battery Sign. Causing quite the stir, the performance opened many doors for the actor.

Steaming ahead, he went on to make appearances in films such as The Mirror Crack’d and television performances in The Professionals and Play For Today. 

In 1982, the actor moved to America and gained popularity from starring in detective series Remington Steele. 

It was in 1992 that Pierce played a supporting role in the family favourite Mrs Doubtfire. It was during this time that director Chris Columbus told him that he would make a great James Bond.

james bond pierce brosnan

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Three years later, when MGM contacted Columbus asking for recommendations for the new James Bond, he suggested Pierce for the job. And the rest is history.

Marriage And Chemotherapy

Pierce met Australian actress Cassandra Harris shortly after he left drama school. They began dating, bought a house in Wimbledon and married in December 1980.

Three years later, they had son Sean together. Pierce later adopted her two children Charlotte and Chris after their father, Dermot Harris passed away in 1986.

In 1987, Cassandra fell seriously ill. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away in 1991. Speaking about the struggle, Pierce said:

“When your partner gets cancer, then life changes. Your timetable and reference for your normal routines and the way you view life, all this changes. Because you’re dealing with death.

You’re dealing with the possibility of death and dying. And it was that way through the chemotherapy, through the first-look operation, the second look, the third look, the fourth look, the fifth look.”

 He has spoken about her energy and positive outlook on life and how tough the loss was both for him and his children.

In 2013, their daughter Charlotte died of ovarian cancer, the same illness as her mothers.

Pierce and Cassandra Harris

Image Source/People

His Second Marriage

Pierce met Keely Shaye Smith in Mexico, 1994 at a beach party.

In 2001, the pair tied the knot in Ballintubber Abbey in County Mayo, Ireland.

With just 100 guests, the wedding was intimate yet elaborate with fireworks, an ice sculpture and a seven-tier cake.

The couple allowed HELLO Magazine access to the reception, donating the money to building schools in Tibet.

Since then, Pierce has been far from shy about showing affection for his wife. Speaking about her, he has said:

“I love her vitality, her passion. She has this strength that I wouldn’t be able to live without. When Keely looks at me, I go weak.”

Their Children

Together, the couple have two sons together, Paris Beckett Brosnan and Dylan Thomas Brosnan.

Both now have successful modelling careers.

Dylan has walked the runway for Dolce and Gabbana with Paris appearing on the cover of GQ and Vanity Teen.

Pierce and Keely Shaye Smith

Image Source/BoredPanda

Environmental And Charity Work

Since 2001, Pierce Brosnan has been an ambassador for UNICEF and is a solid supporter same-sex marriage.

During the 90s, Pierce participated in news conferences to help Greenpeace campaign for an end to nuclear testing. He even boycotted the French premiere of GoldenEye in support of their protest against the French nuclear testing programme.

Pierce also raises money for charities by selling his paintings. Despite ditching his studies in art to pursue acting, his passion was reignited in the 1980s. He explained that he:

 “always wanted to be an artist, a painter.”

“I am self taught, an enthusiastic painter as a friend of mine likes to say.”

Profits from his paintings go to environments, childrens’ and women’s health charities.

Since the death of his wife, Pierce has also been a strong advocate in raising awareness about cancer. In 2006, he served as a spokesperson for a breast cancer fundraiser which generates more money in one day than any other breast cancer fundraiser.

pierce brosnan

Image Source/PierceBrosnan

His Career Since…

Most famously, we saw a young Pierce become the one and only James Bond, featuring in four 007 films including Die Another Day and The World Is Not Enough. Daniel Craig took over the role in 2006 with Casino Royale.

He played the titular character in The Thomas Crown Affair and Peter Devereaux in The November Man.

Most recently, Pierce has been portraying Eli McCullough in the television series The Son.

The established actor has several awards to his name, including a European Film Award and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award as well as two nominations for a Golden Globe.

With filming currently taking place for Eurovision, we are guaranteed to see Pierce on out screens for many years to come.

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