Skip to content
Advertisements

Brozzer love: happy 60th birthday, Pierce Brosnan ~ the 10 golden moments

May 16, 2013

pierce_brosnan_rose_in_gun_compendium

Rose poseur: only Pierce Brosnan could pull off this flower-tastic pose. Well, you know, sort of…

The Emerald Isle has given God’s green Earth many marvellous things: James Joyce and Jonathan Swift; Peter O’ Toole and Richard Harris; Bob Geldof and George Best; Father Ted and Terry Wogan. But none of them are quite – actually, anything like – the man, the legend that is Pierce Brosnan. I love Brosnan (or ‘Brozzman’, as a friend of mine likes to call him), and hopefully this post may go some way to explaining why.

The Brozzer (as he is known to none of his friends, but that’s what I like to call him) was born in Drogheda, County Louth on May 16 1953. At the age of 11 he joined his mum in Putney, London, perhaps critically seeing his first flick at the cinema just weeks later – it was the Bond film Goldfinger (1964). Growing up to become a very good looking lad, the artistic Pierce fancied carving out a career as an actor and graduated from The Smoke’s Drama Centre in the late ’70s.

Around this time he met, fell in love with and married stunning Australian thesp Cassandra Harris (whom played Countess Lisl in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only – ensuring a meeting between the still young Broz and the almighty Bond producer Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli). He made his cinematic debut in classic Brit gangster flick The Long Good Friday (1980) and he was picked by legendary playwright Tennessee Williams for originating a role in the latter’s West End effort The Red Devil Battery Sign (1976). Yep, there was talent there, all right.

Soon, though, Pierce and his wife made the gamble of taking his ‘interesting’ accent across the pond and trying his and its luck in Hollywood. The gamble paid off as, almost immediately, he landed the lead in NBC’s hit detective drama Remington Steele (1982-87), as the smooth, louche and not a little Roger Moore-esque title character. When Sir Rog himself finally hung up 007’s shoulder holster in the mid-’80s, Broccoli came calling, but our man missed out to Welsh scenery chewer Timothy Dalton. Kismet-like, Bondage came calling again; thanks to GoldenEye (1995) then, Pierce Brosnan finally became a global household name.

Between losing the Bond role and recapturing of it, he’d tragically lost his wife to cancer. Happily, though, he remarried (to US broadcaster Keeley Shaye-Smith, with whom he added more children to his growing Brosnan brood). And, thanks to his fame, landed roles in several enviable projects – Mars Attacks! (1996), Dante’s Peak (1997), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) and The Tailor Of Panama (2001). After three further outings as 007, he left the role rather acrimoniously in 2004, but this now freed him up to do whatever the hell he wanted – like indulging his ecological interests (saving whales and the entire planet). His film roles now too became quirkier; everything from impersonating Tony Blair in a Roman Polanksi prestige project (2010’s The Ghost Writer) to doing a Ringo Starr and narrating Thomas The Tank Engine on the big-screen (2008’s Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery).

Yes, there’s never been one quite like The Brozzer. Magnificently ’80s-male-model-handsome, terrifically transalantic of twang, utterly unpredictable when it comes to acting choices (both in roles and just acting in scenes), he’s the international institution that made Bond relevant and popular again in the ’90s and the world a better place for saving whales and selling L’Oreal products. Probably. He’s Pierce Brosnan and he’s 60 years young today. And so, to mark this great event, here’s a (not exactly serious, but unquestionably glorious) top 10 of his greatest screen moments. Slide into shot, pose and gun-barrel away, folks…

.

10. Pierce Brosnan sings

Mamma Mia! (2008)

.

.

A list like this deserves a real kick-off. And this is a real kick – I’ll leave it up to you as to exactly where, though. In this logic-defyingly popular, pop-tune-littered blockbuster musical, our man essays a former lover of Meryl Streep’s lead, whom returns to a Greek island in the wake of her daughter’s nuptials and the pair realise unrequited feelings. How do they express these feelings? In song, of course (the classic that’s ABBA’s S.O.S.). One of these two was trained in and hoofed the boards in musical theatre early in their career and, to be fair, it’s easy to spot which. But, while The Streepster is excellent here (as she, well, always is), she doesn’t manage to create an entirely new form of singing – snarling™. Note: for those wishing to replicate and even (at your own risk) hone Brosnan’s snarling™ technique, tying empty honey jars in trees with extras from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) is entirely optional.

.

.

9. Pierce Brosnan breathes fire

Muppets Tonight (1997)

.

.

Piercey Boy learnt to breathe fire during a workshop given by a fire-eater at London’s Central St. Martins College of Art and Design back in ’69. He probably did so to impress the ladies in the workshop. Understandable. What’s less predictable was that this talent gained him a circus agent and, on and off, fire-breathing gigs for the next three years. True story. The only footage of him demonstrating his capacity for flame-throwing, as far as I know, is this – the conclusion to an episode of the felt favourites-featuring Muppets Tonight. Let’s be truly fair, as soon as he’s pulled off his feat he looks like the coolest man alive, taking deserved plaudits from Gonzo and co. And then he delivers the ‘hot, hot, hot’ gag and starts dancing… and the spell is broken. Forever.

.

.

8. Pierce Brosnan winks at the folks at home (4:35)

Behind-the-scenes of The World Is Not Enough (1999)

.

.

He’s just completed a dramatic (all right, one melodramatic of many a melodramatic) scene in this Brosnan-as-Bond-defining Bond film and what does he do? That’s right, instantly breaks character and winks at the camera that’s shooting a gushing behind-the-scenes special for TV viewers eager for more Brozzer action. What does that wink say? “It’s not real this Bond thing, you know” or “I’m really Pierce Brosnan, not James Bond” or “Look how goofily I can screw up my face when I wink”? Your guess is as good as mine. And just how can he break from the reality of 007 to the reality of the real world so easily? Again, your guess is as good as mine.

.

.

7. Pierce Brosnan touches his face (0:32)

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

.

.

Of all his Bond films, this one contains arguably the greatest cacophony of ‘Brosnan’ moments. Chief among them is the bit in the above fan trailer (which impressively makes TWINE look like a masterpiece) when our man touches his face. Reading Brosnan body language isn’t, well, the hardest thing in the world: when he touches his face while furrowing his brow, he’s thinking; when, as here, he touches his face while lifting his eyebrows and opening his mouth slightly, he’s emoting. In fact, this bit of Brosnan emoting’s so good, it’s a double whammy. For not only does he touch his face, he then immediately touches someone else’s face (the face of Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King on a computer screen). Yup, The Brozzer pulls out the stops in TWINE. For there’s also the moments he saunters about with one hand in a trouser pocket and the other hand dangling rakishly free; the moments he delivers awful puns with awfully clear enunciation (e.g. “Maybe you haven’t taken into account my hidd-en ass-ettts“); the moment he wears bright blue (x-ray) sunglasses and the moments he crumples in pain whenever a villain touches his ‘broken collar bone’ (which oddly never seems to affect him at other times; see Pierce Brosnan’s ‘pain face’ below). Brosnan simply lives the Brosnan Bond in this movie. It’s a sight to behold, nay, one to touch your face and furrow your brow over.

.

.

Bonus Brozzer moment: Pierce Brosnan drinks Guinness

.

pierce_brosnan_drinks_guinness pierce_brosnan_drinks_guinness_2

.

.

6. Pierce Brosnan rides a horse

L’Oreal Men Expert advert (2008)

.

.

This has to be one of the greatest TV commercials ever made. It opens with a statement of cool conviction: “There’s more to life than making movies,” coos our man in his idiosyncratic burr, “like fighting for the causes I believe in” (i.e. saving the whales and the world etc.). It also appears it’s just as important for him to apply a skin product to his face (more touching). And to play pool with friendly people who clearly aren’t his friends (I doubt Broz’s mates look like advert extras). And best of all to ride a horse along a beach and point out an unseen yet clearly important milestone on the horizon. Nobody rides a horse in slow-motion quite like Pierce. Nobody points out a spot on the horizon in slow-motion while riding a horse in slow-motion quite like Pierce. There’s more to life than making movies – never a truer word spoken.

.

.

5. Pierce Brosnan jumps out of a horse

Seraphim Falls (2006)

.

.

This one is deliriously out of left-field. Well, actually, it’s out of a horse. Literally. To say you don’t see it coming is an understatement as big as Pierce’s outstanding pointy beard that he sports in this well received chase-themed western, in which his Yankee-soldier-cum-KFC’s-The-Colonel is pursued by Liam Neeson’s Confederate bounty hunter. Basically what happens is… Brosnan jumps out of a horse. That’s it. It’s like the exact opposite of what Han Solo does to his tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Indeed, Han Solo doesn’t even have a beard in that. He doesn’t even have any stubble, come to think of it.

.

.

4. Pierce Brosnan plays a horse

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

.

.

Clearly not content with merely riding a horse in unforgettable fashion and leaping out of one, The Brozzer managed to pull off his horsey hat-trick by finally actually playing one. The Brosnan CV is nothing if not eclectic – equinely eclectic, if you will. Technically speaking, the character of Chiron in this flick is a centaur, the ancient Greek mythlogical creature that boasts a  horse’s lower half and a human’s – or a Brosnan’s – upper half. In the Percy Jackson universe, he’s the tutor of the great heroes and, thus, of course of adenoidal American adolescent Percy Jackson himself – a Mr Miyagi on four legs then. The great thing about The Brozzer’s performance here is its grizzledness. This time there’s as much hair on top as there is in the beard. Indeed, he’s even more grizzled as Chiron’s human ‘cover’, the Brosnan-intense Latin teacher Mr Brunner, with an inscrutable accent (lending him additional exoticism, if that’s the word for it). One question, though: why does Chiron have a stick he needs to lean on? He has four whole legs and is practically immortal. What the hell? As ever with Pierce, he leaves the audience wanting answers – always leave them wanting more, Brozzer; always leave them wanting more.

.

.

Bonus Brozzer moment: Pierce Brosnan plays the bongos

.

pierce_brosnan_with_bongos

.

.

3. Pierce Brosnan offers an opinion

Taffin (1988)

.

.

As noted, the delight of watching The Brozzer at work is you never know quite what acting choices he’s going to make. This rollercoaster ride of screen thesping from Piercey-picture to Piercey-picture has never been better – nay, never been more sensationally – demonstrated by a scene in the little known Irish should-be-harder-nosed-than-it-actually-is thriller Taffin. Said scene occurs about three-quarters through the flick, just as the titular character (our man Broz), a hard yet particularly handsome, sunglasses-wearing, hair-model-bouffoned debt collector, is hungover and had enough lip from would-be-girlfriend-cum-investigative-journalist Alison Doody (curiously these two are the only at all attractive people in Taffin’s town, and they’re staggeringly attractive; weird). The shocking and quite deliriously brilliant moment has to be seen – and mostly heard – to be believed as Pierce agrees with Dooders that she should no longer take up residence in the place. Quite how he manages both to extraordinarily stress and elongate the last two words of his utterance in the manner he does while as hungover as he is, is anyone’s guess. But then Taffin isn’t any old film character, he’s a Brosnan film character. The normal rules don’t apply. Indeed, so magnificent is this moment that it’s become something of a cause célèbre in Internet circles – leading to these quite brilliant bastardisations (read: possible improvements): click here, here and here if you dare.

.

.

2. Pierce Brosnan’s pain face

All his Bond films (1995-2002)

.

.

A constant amazement and delight to Bond fan forums, Pierce Brosnan’s ‘pain face’ is a cinematic phenomenon up there with Brando and De Niro’s method acting, Godard’s jump-cuts and Welles’ deep-focuses. By deploying the maximum stretching of his already wide mouth, The Brozzer manages to achieve a unique ‘letterbox’ effect, while seemingly pumping all the blood in his body to his face and straining ever muscle and sinew of that usually gorgeous mug, transforming it into some sort of demonic mask from a medieval satanic ritual. Pierce, as I think we’ve already established never does his thesping by half though, thus his pain faces are never without audio additions. The profligacy and verbosity of his grunts, groans, ‘arrrghs!’ and general ‘nnnnghs!’ are quite stunning. And, again, it’s The World Is Not Enough that offers us the epitome of this particular Brosnan offering – his pain face as he’s slowly throttled in Elektra King’s torture chair is quite extraordinary. Never has a man’s mouth opened quite so far while its owner has sported quite such perfect hair. Awesome work, Brosnan.

.

.

1. Pierce Brosnan is The Matador

(2005)

Warning: language in the following clips may offend

.

All right, this list has thus far enjoyed itself a great deal at our man’s expense (while being thoroughly affectionate to him, it’s only fair to say), but now it’s time for it to give The Brozzer his genuine dues; indeed, for it to get down on its knees and, Wayne’s World-like, worship its hero while exclaiming it’s not worthy. For this list’s numero uno pick is everything – that’s right, everything – that Pierce Brosnan does in The Matador. There is one word to describe him in this flick: outstanding. Genuinely, he’s outstanding. The Matador is a clever-clever, witty art-house comedy drama about an ostensibly smooth, sophisticated assassin facing the fag-end of his career and the breakdown this brings. And so good is Brosnan as this assassin Julian Noble, he elevates this otherwise likeable if modest movie into something really rather wonderful. His performance was deservedly nominated for a Golden Globe award.

Exhibit A: in the clip below, witness the wilful wonkiness of Noble’s accent – transatlantic-Brozzer one moment, oddly mockney the next, plus his infantile and utterly thunder- (and cool-) stealing argument with the boy and marvellously sleazy treatment of his mum, before (somewhat) regaining his cool come the conclusion…

.

.

Exhibit B: here we see Julian’s unravelling as he describes it to married friends Danny and Bean (Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis). If his behaviour in the clip above is sleazy, here it’s magnificently so – the charisma of that ’70s porn star moustache utterly failing to mask the Tequila-drowning, oriental whorehouse carousing but very funny exploits candidly revealed to us…

.

.

Exhibit C: its player having recently left Bondage, this scene was at the time referred to as The Brozzer’s ‘anti-Bond’ scene. In a way, that no doubt was the intention – Julian Noble’s supposed to be a smoothy, a 007-like professional, but here, hungover as hell, he’s letting it all hang out for the world to see just how washed up he is as he strolls to the pool – and then struggles to get his boots off before dropping in, still holding his can of beer. If actors ever do ‘brave’ things in their thesping, then instantly post-Bond this was a brave move from The Brozzer. And, like everything he does in this movie, it’s bloody funny and pitch-perfectly spot-on. If you’ve never seen The Matador, you have to put that right immediately. It is Broz-day, after all…

.

.

george's_journal_motif

Advertisements
7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2013 12:32 am

    Beyond awesome reverent (and irreverent) homage to the Broztastic Brozzer. Great piece, Georgey!

  2. May 16, 2013 12:40 am

    Thank you, indeed, Dublo!

    To say I enjoyed putting together this particular post would be putting it mildly. Actually, to express just how much I enjoyed compiling it, maybe I should hire The Brozzer himself to express it in his inimitable style… 😉

  3. eaz35173 permalink
    May 16, 2013 1:32 am

    Great tribute!! As for the Brozzer’s fire eating, he did it in an episode of Remington Steele called “High Flying Steele” – available on Hulu, should you wish to check it out.

  4. May 16, 2013 10:10 am

    Wonderful tribute to its 60th anniversary

  5. May 16, 2013 8:56 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, eaz35173 and Rosa. Will have to check out the Remington Steele fire breathing… 🙂

  6. Simon permalink
    May 17, 2013 7:15 pm

    Are the Brozzer, he’s not blond but he is 90’s Bond. He did more to re secure the future of Bond than any other element during the late 90’s. With a self confidence and swagger he could play to those who enjoyed Connery and Moore before whilst being his own man…. After all who else could shoot through the manual whilst being disowned and having to enter HQ via traitors gate? But my favourite moment has to be adjusting ones tie underwater….

    NB don’t forget his film roles in the 4th Protocal, steely cold and a believable Irish Russian, much better than Death Train for all it’s Patrick Stewart fun.

    • May 17, 2013 7:45 pm

      Yup, he wasn’t bad in The Fourth Protocol, even if he was playing a rather robotic Russkie assassin of few words. 😉

      And Death Train’s another particular high-(or is it low-?) light of The Brozzer oeuvre, in which he plays a UN-freelance-trigger-puller-cum-Moto-GP-mechanic in a dubious opening scene helmet. Timeless stuff… :p

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: