Pierce Brosnan gives us the guided tour of his Kaua’i hideaway as he waxes poetic on love, life and the secret agent that will never die.
Blue skies. Palm trees. The signature scent of hawai’i-an impossible-to-duplicate combination of brine and botanicals- wafts in the breeze, while the sound of crashing waves serves as the soundtrack for yet another seemingly perfect day in paradise. Along the shoreline of one of hanalei’s many pristine beaches, a small party of three surrounds someone donning a panama-style hat, dressed in a linen button-down shirt and a pair of shorts, as he slowly makes his way to the opposite end of the beach. A knowing smile here, click. A pensive look there, click. A jocular bow toward the camera, click, click, click…
“I haven’t done one of these in years,” he says. But somehow, muscle memory must have kicked in from a lifetime photo shoots and red carpet moments. This guy was no amateur-being in front of the lens seemed second nature. Or perhaps it was because we weren’t in some cramped hotel room or bustling lobby with passers-by taking photos with their phones every two seconds. Maybe here, in the lush surroundings beneath Bali Hai, he felt at home. In fact, he was home.
Pierce Brosnan has been a part-time Kaua’i resident for more than a decade.
He and wife Keely planted a few island roots of their own 11 years ago and have been hopping back and fourth from their main residence in Malibu, Calif. ever since. And though it’s the simple life that the happy couple prefers to have when the cameras aren’t rolling, the veteran actor is accustomed to dealing with the whirlwind that comes along with being Hollywood royalty. With scores of titles under his belt, Brosnan-who just celebrated his 60th birthday in May-has come a very long way from his Remington Steele days. Since then, he’s played everything from a volcanologist in Dante’s Peak, to a playboy/ financier in The Thomas Crown Aoffair, to a jaded hit man in The Matador-a role that earned him a Golden Globe nomination. But obviously, when he became the world’s favorite secret agent in the mid-nineties, audiences from around the globe couldn’t get enough of Brosnan as James Bond.
Even when it was time to pack away the Brioni tux and surrender his license to kill, Brosnan’s life remained action-packed. He and Keely Shaye Smith were already married with two children (sons Dylan, now 16 and Paris, now 12) by the time his last 007 blockbuster came out in 2002. Between raising a family, filming and producing movies through his company Irish DreamTime- which he co-founded with friend Beau St. Clair-Brosnan was anything but idle.
At present, Brosnan is still well into making films. The first of his three movies scheduled to premier in 2013, Love Is All You Need, debuted in early May. Set in Sorrento, Italy, the story revolves around a Danish hairdresser recovering from cancer whose husband left her for another woman. Brosnan plays Philip-a lonely, middle-aged widower and estranged single father. He reveals, “It was a film with many emblems of identification-being a father, being a widower, losing a wife, cancer… there were so many ingredients that seemed to make sense… [At the time, director] Susanne Bier didn’t realize my backstory, so to speak.” Brosnan is referring to his own experience of losing his first wife, Cassandra Harris, to cancer in 1991. The parallelism of his on-screen persona to his own life forged an instant connection. “This seems to be a match made in heaven here,” he says.
“You know, something about losing a wife to cancer and something about bringing up a son, children… no acting required.”
This fall, Brosnan is slated to co-star with Emma Thompson in a rom-com called Love Punch, where they play a divorced couple forced to ban together to retrieve their stolen pension. Shortly after that, Brosnan stars in dark comedy A Long Way Down with Toni Collette-a big-screen adaptation of Brit author Nick Hornby’s novel.
That’s not to say Brosnan is done with filming this year or through with making spy films-just the opposite. His current project, Th e November Man, has him on set in Serbia. “We’ve had [the script] now for six years and finally, we’re going to make it with Roger Donaldson (director). So it’s back in the world of espionage; it’s back in the landscape of subterfuge and Machiavellian ways.”
Based on Brosnan’s filmography, it’s apparent that variety is a welcome friend. According to him, “It’s all part of the package. You want to be able to have as many colors on the palette as possible; you want to be able to do a love story, do drama; you want to be able to do action… there comes a time when you can only do a certain thing.”
With typecasting reservations still far in the future, Brosnan has far more pressing issues to ponder, such as the environment. More than that, he’s up in arms struggling to protect it. Brosnan has long been an active environmentalist. From fighting the construction of a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility along with the rest of their community in Malibu, to preserving the breeding grounds of the Pacific gray whale, he and Keely have put in an enormous amount of time and eoffort to make a noticeable impact or at the very least, motivate others to follow suit when it comes to a cause that they strongly believe in.
The latest controversy that has him fuming is our government’s stance on GMOs, specifically the Farmer Assurance Provision (critically nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act). He says, “I just think genetically modified food is going to change the planet completely and to have someone like Monsanto… who is Monsanto? Just the name alone becomes this gross, kind of amalgamation of greed; it doesn’t bode well. You feel it acutely when you live on the islands… you feel it acutely when you’re surrounded by farmers and people who grow their own food.”
In the same vein, his aoffection for President Obama has flatlined for reasons that include his signing of the hotly debated provision. For a moment, Brosnan’s sanguine disposition fades as he expresses sheer disappointment: “I put all my faith in [Obama] and now he’s going off; to Monsanto, he’s given Monsanto everything they could possibly wish for; it’s like, ‘give me a break… okay, you’re cool, you’re smart, you’re funny, and I voted for you…’ I don’t vote for many people, but I voted for this dude, and I feel like [he’s] just kicked me in the shins! So… that’s it, I’m Republican from now on.”
No one can argue that Brosnan possesses an enviable verve that appears to be prevalent in all aspects of his life-he exudes the same dynamism in real life as some of the characters he’s portrayed on the silver screen. And to hear him in his own words, “wax lyrical” about his better half, is refreshing in this age of divorce and on-again-off;-again relationships. Once again, Brosnan’s demeanor changes. This time to one of contentment: “I thought I was leading this dance when we started, but I realize that I’m following her now and happily so. And she follows me… occasionally (he jokes). We follow each other’s love; we follow each other’s life. It’s been 19 years of being together and making children and bringing up family.”
How does one manage to juggle the proverbial work-life balance? There really isn’t one definitive answer. But a now older and wiser Brosnan imparts the secret to his success: “When I found acting, I embraced it, I welcomed it and was grateful that I had some small gift of it. And then, you look behind the curtain and [find that] it’s just make-believe… stars come and stars go; you have such small space of time in life to shine-you know it’s a game. I think with some certain knowledge of that, you try to have a great time and build a great life and have fun and kick your heels up and just really celebrate family, life and the movies you make.”