Every generation has its James Bond. For people who came of age in the 90s and early aughts, Pierce Brosnan is more or less indistinguishable from 007. For GQ’s Iconic Characters series, Brosnan delved deep into his greatest roles — none more iconic than Bond, of course.
Brosnan explains that he took over the role from the beloved Bonds to stardom in 1995. Golden eye required a careful blend of respect and innovation. “For me, it was trying to keep a line between Roger [Moore] and Sean Connery and is not shy about taking away from his work,” says Brosnan. “I allowed myself to try grace and get the sense of humor that both men brought to the role.” In addition to the mental pressure of playing James Bond, there was a physicality to his iteration. “You get a chip, you get stitches, you pull a muscle, you get stitched up,” Brosnan explains.
When Brosnan wasn’t playing an international spy, he was busy in Hollywood. Working with Robin Williams Mrs. Doubtfire provided one highlight. “He commands his heart, his soul, every fiber of his being,” Brosnan says of his late collaborator. “I went to this movie every day and I always worked with Mrs. Doubtfire. It wasn’t until the end of the movie that I met Robin.
Brosnan’s career took another surprising turn as fans watched him sing his heart out to the one and only Meryl Streep. Mamma Mia. “It was terrifying to do those songs,” says Brosnan. However, the actor found comfort in his co-stars Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth the day they recorded the soundtrack. “[They] Look[ed] like rabbits caught in headlights. They were scared. We were all scared.”
In 2010, he played a British ex-prime minister with a troubled past in Roman Polanski A ghost writer. Polanski insisted, Brosnan recalls, “No, no, it’s not about Tony Blair,” but all roads lead to Tony Blair, so I looked at Tony Blair.