Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brendan Brosnan was an only child, and had a difficult, challenging childhood. Pierce’s father was a carpenter called Thomas, who abandoned Pierce and Mary, his mother, before baby Pierce had even reached his first birthday. Since Mary needed to earn money in order to support her son, she left baby Pierce with his grandparents, Philip and Kathleen Smith, and headed off to London, to train as a nurse.

When Pierce was just six-years-old, both his grandparents died, so he was shunted off to be raised by a succession of different relations. In later life, Pierce has said that he remembers spending a great deal of time in his aunt's pub, and also feeling desperately lonely. "But maybe that's where the acting comes from", he added, "from spending so much time alone with your thoughts." Pierce had a tough time of it at school too. For a time, he was unlucky enough to experience the brutal regime of the Christian Brothers at a strict religious school. He recalls being beaten and forcibly indoctrinated with Catholicism. "Religion was rammed down my throat," he later recalled. The school was eventually closed down due to an article that appeared in the press.

When Pierce was 11, his mother was finally able to afford to bring him over to live with her in London, and he came to live in Putney. His mother was about to get married, to a Scot called Bill Carmichael, who asked Pierce if he minded him marrying his mum. Young Pierce gave the happy couple their blessing, and as a treat, Bill took his new stepson-to-be to the cinema - to see 'Goldfinger'! This was an important turning-point in Pierce's life, since he claims it was then that he first began to dream of becoming an actor.

Pierce attended school at Elliott Comprehensive, where he was teased and bullied about his Irish accent - in fact, his nickname was "Irish". In order to avoid continued persecution, he trained himself to speak with an English accent, and wound up speaking with a Cockney twang. Pierce's best subjects at school were English and Art, but he decided to leave school at 16 nevertheless. He initially thought of training to become a commercial artist, but was already studying drama in his spare time: after a stint at Kennington's Oval House Theatre Club, in 1973, he enrolled at the Drama Centre in London.

He graduated in 1976, and went to work as assistant stage manager at York's Theatre Royal, where he made his professional stage debut in a play called 'Wait Until Dark'. Then came Pierce's first "big break". He was lucky enough to attract the attention of the famous playwright Tennessee Williams, and was offered the part of McCabe in the British premiere of Williams' 'Red Devil Battery Sign' at the Roundhouse Theatre, to great critical acclaim.

Tennessee Williams sent Pierce a telegram which said, "Thank God for you, my dear boy", which still has pride of place on Pierce's wall at home. Luckily for Pierce, another famous director, Franco Zeffirelli, also saw him perform in 'Red Devil Battery Sign', and then invited him to co-star with Joan Plowright (aka Mrs Laurence Olivier) in 'Filumena', a play that was then staging at London's Lyric Theatre. The play was so successful that it ran for 18 months. Pierce was then offered a part in the BBC production about an Irish betting scam, 'Murphy's Stroke', where he played the part of a race-horse trainer.

Being talent-spotted by Tennessee Williams and Franco Zeffirelli was just the beginning. A year later, Pierce made his film debut with a tiny bit part in the British mobland thriller, 'The Long Good Friday' (1980). The same year, Pierce also landed a small role in the star-studded Agatha Christie movie, 'The Mirror Crack'd'. Far better things were just around the corner, however, and Hollywood was soon to come knocking on Pierce's door.

His performance in the BBC's 'Murphy's Stroke' had been noticed by several American TV producers, and he was soon offered a part in the new US mini-series called 'The Manions of America'. Set in Victorian Philadelphia, 'The Manions' was an epic historical soap opera that followed the triumphs and heartbreaks of two families - one Irish, one English. Pierce gladly accepted the part of Rory O'Manion - and by a curious coincidence, filming was due to be take place in Ireland.

When Pierce did return to his home country for filming, he was surrounded by a massive wave of press and media interest. In the midst of it all, he was contacted by a distant cousin, who put him back in touch with his biological father. Alas, the two men were never destined to become close.

Around the same time, Pierce also met one of the great loves of his life. In 1980, he met and married the actress Cassandra Harris, who was 12 years older than him. Cassandra was a stunning beauty, who'd been featured in society photographer Lord Lichfield's book, "The World's Most Beautiful Women". That same year, Pierce and Cassandra travelled to Corfu, where Cassandra was filming on location. Here, for the first time, Pierce met the James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. The famous producer was already looking out for a successor to the then-Bond, British actor Roger Moore. Broccoli was immediately struck by Pierce's handsome appearance, and reportedly said, "If he can act, he's my guy". Prophetic words, to be sure, but Pierce was not destined to be Broccoli's "guy" just yet, at any rate.

Following the launch of 'The Manions' in America, Pierce decided that he really needed to go to Hollywood, so as to maximise any possible casting opportunities for new TV shows or even, hopefully, movies. Ever since seeing 'Goldfinger' at the tender age of 11, Pierce's heart had been set on the big screen, even if he had to content himself with TV acting for now.

By now, Pierce also had three children to consider, for Cassandra had two children from her previous marriage, Charlotte and Christopher, and the couple also had their own son, Sean: but he decided to head off to Los Angeles for two weeks of auditions. Whilst over in the United States, Pierce auditioned for a new series called 'Remington Steele', which was also set to star Stephanie Zimbalist, who played a private investigator who is reluctantly forced to take on a new partner (the part that came to be played by Pierce).

Pierce landed the part in Remington Steele, and then moved his whole family out to L.A. 'Remington Steele' began to take off and attracted big ratings, much to the producers' delight. Pierce's parts became bigger and bigger, much to Zimbalist's annoyance - Pierce had originally only been intended to be a sidekick, and now he was taking over the show! The press began to call Pierce "the new Cary Grant", and it wasn't long before he was offered a string of film roles too. Pierce acted in Remington Steele until 1987 before moving increasingly into cinema. His first proper film role was in a movie called 'Nomads', directed by John McTiernan, who later made the action movies 'Predator' and 'Die Hard'.

In 1986, Bond producer Cubby Broccoli hoped to cast Pierce as Bond in 'The Living Daylights', but the producers of 'Remington Steele' refused to release him from his contract, and he was unable to take the part. Pierce made light of the situation by acting in a series of Diet Coke ads, where he spoofed James Bond! By 1987, Pierce's film roles had become more serious and challenging; he acted in the thriller 'The 4th Protocol', and then another mini-series, 'James Clavell's Noble House'. Here he played the part of Ian Dunross, head of one of the oldest trade houses in Hong Kong.

Then came the role of Phileas Fogg in 'Around The World in 80 Days', swiftly followed by 'Murder 101' and 'The Lawnmower Man'. In 1993, he surprised movie audiences with a comic turn alongside Robin Williams in the blockbuster, 'Mrs Doubtfire'. And in 1994, he got the phone call he'd been waiting for so many years, when Cubby Broccoli called to offer him the part of James Bond in the new Bond movie, 'GoldenEye'. This was the first Bond film that was not based on an original Ian Fleming novel. Pierce was already widely tipped to be the new Bond, cornering 70 per cent of a public opinion poll, beating out Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Grant and even Mel Gibson.

Pierce is on record as saying that he was glad he'd missed out on the Bond part first time round, as he thought that Bond should be about 40, suave and worldly-wise. The public was not disappointed, as this was a bigger, flashier James Bond movie than ever. The film was a massive box-office success, taking $350 million, which was the biggest take so far. Brosnan had now become solidly established as a leading Hollywood player, but he continued to play other roles, as well as James Bond. He co-starred with Barbra Streisand in 'The Mirror Has Two Faces', and then showed his gift for comedy once again in Tim Burton's 'Mars Attacks!', where he played a flirtatious professor.

Then he returned to Bond movies with 'Tomorrow Never Dies', taking on villainous media mogul Jonathan Pryce. Meanwhile, he'd started his own production company, Dreamtime, and now produced and starred in a film called 'The Nephew'. Next came a remake of 'The Thomas Crown Affair', where Pierce played a playboy thief who's investigated by Rene Russo.

In 2002, Brosnan starred in the 20th official James Bond movie, 'Die Another Day', where James Bond crosses the world to prevent a war! Sadly, this was to be Brosnan's last outing as James Bond, although the public didn't know it yet. Rumour had it that Pierce had been asked to do another film, but that the producers had changed their minds, leaving him angry and feeling let down. Audiences had to content themselves with seeing Pierce in 'After The Sunset', where he co-starred with Salma Hayek, and played the part of a master jewel thief.

Next came a character that was miles away from the suave 007 spy he had portrayed so well as 'The Matador' turned him into a seedy hitman. The 2005 movie earned him critical acclaim, with nominations for a Saturn Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor coming his way. 2007's 'Seraphim Falls' took him into the old American west while 'Butterfly on a Wheel', which he also produced was a thriller film.

After appearing in the drama 'Married Life', Pierce decided to take on an entirely new challenge in 'Mamma Mia!;, a musical and romantic comedy that required him to sing and dance to ABBA songs. The movie co-starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Colin Firth was a smash box office hit, although the success could not prevent him from picking up a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, despite being nominated for a National Movie Award for Best Performance as well.

In 2009, he teamed up with Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan and Michael Shannon for 'The Greatest', a film about a couple grieving following the death of their son, and went on to star in 'The Ghost' in 2010. The latter was a political thriller directed by Roman Polanski and led to more critical acclaim. 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief' and 'Remember Me', both of which were released in 2010, also kept him busy.

In 2011, Brosnan appeared in comedy drama 'Salvation Boulevard' and comedy 'I Don't Know How She Does It' alongside Sarah Jessica Parker before returning to TV. He played Mike Noonan in the mini series 'Bag of Bones', in which he is a bestselling novelist who cannot cope after the untimely death of his wife. He then appeared in 'Love Punch' (2013), 'A Long Way Down' (2014) and 'The Coup' (2015).

Despite his rocky start in life, Pierce's acting career has gone from strength to strength as the decades have unfolded, but his personal life has been marked by great tragedy.