We met Pierce Brosnan

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Published November/December 1997

"Childhood was fairly solitary," Brosnan begins, "I grew up in a very small town in southern Ireland. 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 '50s, and to be Irish Catholic in the '50s, 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. Consequently, there was a certain amount of early loss in that young boy's life.
"It wasn't all bleak. We lived on the outskirts of the town of Navan, so there was the countryside to play in. My grandfather was a really wonderful, kind, gentle man, and very well respected in the community. My grandmother was a darker person, I really can't speak very clearly about her, but she had a certain magic as well. Because I was so solitary, and we lived, as I say, on the outskirts of town, across the River Boyne, one was an outsider. An only child.
"Then my grandparents died, one after the other. And I lived with an aunt. Then I lived with an uncle. Eventually, though, they wanted to get on with their own lives and they didn't have room for a young boy. So I was sent to live with a woman named Eileen, who had a place in a poor part of town. She had her own children and she also had lodgers. She agreed to take Pierce in, and I moved upstairs with the lodgers, all grown men with jobs. One worked in the mill. One worked in a local bank. And then there was another bed for whoever came in visiting. There was this long room, and there were these iron beds with old mattresses on them. This is where the three lodgers were. At the very end of the room, there was my little bed. With a curtain around it, with newspapers pinned on it, so the light wouldn't shine in when the guys came home.
Never, you came in America?
Cassie suggested we do something bold. Cassie said we should go to America, we should really go to Los Angeles for the premiere of this miniseries.
"The trip to America, it was such a great joy to go there with Cassie.
Taxi Driver I'd seen about 10 times and Mean Streets; that's where my brain was at. I was going to do movies. But I needed work. I went through several more interviews and then Cassie and I came home to Wimbledon. Then the call came: Would I return for a screen test? And it was, 'My God, what have we done? What have we done? What are we going to do?' Panic, panic, panic. Don't panic! We'll go to America. We'll take the kids to America. So Cass, the two kids and I hopped on a plane and went to America.
Brosnan and Harris settled into southern California. During his "Remington Steele" years, the show made a brief visit to Ireland, and Brosnan had an unexpected visitor: Tom Brosnan, the father he had never known. "Our trip to Ireland generated a lot of press, and I suspected my father might surface. And he did. One Sunday afternoon he came to the hotel. He came up from Kerry, with many first cousins I never knew. There came a knock on the door and you knew that when you open the door, the man you're going to see is your father. I opened the door and there was Tom. I expected to see a very tall man. He was a man of medium stature, pushed-back silver hair, flinty eyes and a twizzled jaw. He had a very strong Kerry accent. And Tom and I sat and had afternoon tea, with all those cousins in the room. "We were strangers when we met. And I regret that we met under such circumstances.
Did he feel like family?
"No. No. And of course the burning question beneath the course of the conversation was, 'Why did you leave?' But how do you cut to such a question after such a long absence? I was 33 at the time. I had been angry with him. And I was angry after the meeting. Because I didn't ask him the questions. There was enough pain already.
"Never, you located the cancer ?
During the shoot in India, in the baking heat of Rajasthan, the usually effervescent Harris began to tire and feel run down. "She got very fatigued, very worn out, and we weren't sure what it was. She had had pain, slight pains, and in a checkup, six months before, the doctor had said, 'It's all right. Don't worry.' If only he had looked closely. When we finished in India, we came back to London. She went to the doctor and he took her into the hospital the very next night." The diagnosis was full-blown ovarian cancer. "A young woman making her way through life, as a mother, as an actress, gets cancer, then life 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.I did not sleep the evenings from the distress ached a lot .This I went to the doctor each day I needed money it should I work. I was tired a lot I did not sleep. I was in the all the evening, without sleep. Ached my woman. It should I do everything. Their struggle against the cancer lasted years. "Cassie was very positive about life. I mean, she had the most amazing energy and outlook on life. She could read people extremely well. She had, above all, the greatest sense of humor. She had this wonderful laugh, which her children have inherited. Both Christopher and Charlotte, and Sean, have this contagious way about them, of making people feel good. Which is such a gift." Harris died in 1991. "It was and is a terrible loss," says Brosnan. "And I see it reflected, from time to time, in my children. How do you carry on afterwards? Slowly. Very, very, very slowly. It hurts. Brosnan's world would never be the same. The loss of his wife, he said, brought him to his knees. But now he had to be both father and mother; for their three children, he was now the sole source of emotional sustenance and stability. To get himself through, to give his children the reassurance that life would regain some form of balance, Brosnan somehow found the fortitude to keep on working.

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