James Bond: How Pierce Brosnan landed job of 007 'Waited YEARS'

August 8, 2020
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James Bond has been played by many a man, with one of those coming in the form of Pierce Brosnan. The Irish actor dreamt of playing 007, but the journey was never going to be easy. Instead, it was a series of joys, disappointments, and other bumps in the road to MI6.

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For Brosnan, James Bond was more than just a character in a movie: he was an escape when, as a child, Brosnan moved to London and felt like an outsider.

Speaking to GQ in 2014 about what movies kept him going after he moved to London in 1964, he said: “Goldfinger: Sean Connery, James Bond. I was as green as the leaves on the tree, and I’d never seen a naked woman.

“I was fresh-faced, Irish-Catholic, and happy. Happy to be in London.

“And that movie—that first weekend in London in the summer of ’64—was Goldfinger.

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James Bond - the hard journey to 007 for Pierce Brosnan

James Bond – the hard journey to 007 for Pierce Brosnan (Image: Eon)

“My mother and father took me to see it, and it was just bedazzling.

“And consequently, I went every weekend to see the pictures.”

Not only did James Bond mean so much to him as a character, but it ignited his love of cinema, which has seen him through career disappointments and heartbreak.

One of those heartbreaks, it turns out, was getting the role of Bond itself.

Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist in Remington Steele

Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist in Remington Steele (Image: ABC)

After training to be an actor, Brosnan landed a role in American TV which set him up for greatness: Remington Steele.

He rose to popularity in the show, which ran from 1982 to 1987.

He played the title character, who was in fact a conman called Harry Chalmers, who takes on the name of a fictitious detective to help a woman, Laura Holt, land a job in the field.

The show was cancelled after four series, at which point Brosnan landed the role of his life by becoming James Bond.

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in Die Another Day

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in Die Another Day (Image: Eon )

However, with American TV shows, it’s not over until it’s over, and Brosnan had to wait out a full 60 days to make sure no other network would pick up Remington Steele.

He spoke of this further in his GQ interview, saying: “You know, when it happened and it didn’t happen and then it happened and it didn’t happen, you know, it always came in and out of my life with great trauma.

“In 1986, Remington got cancelled, they offered me the movie James Bond, and then I couldn’t get out of the contract, and they played it out until the sixtieth day.

“They had sixty days in which to resell the show, and I was assured that everything was going to be just fine, but it wasn’t.

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye (Image: Eon)

“And on the sixtieth day as I was walking out to the beach with a bottle of Cristal Champagne to my late wife, the phone rang and I thought, “Hmm, better answer it.”

“It was Fred Specktor, my agent, saying, ‘The deal’s fallen through. It’s not gonna happen.’”

It turned out, when the network decided to pick up the show again at the last minute, Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, the producer who owned the Bond franchise, said he would only keep Brosnan in contract if the show only had six episodes.

Sadly, the network decided it wanted to renew for a whole series of 22 episodes, meaning Broccoli cut Brosnan loose.

Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies

Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies (Image: Eon)

Brosnan added: “It’s all going according to plan: I’ve come to America, beautiful hit show, respected show, it gets cancelled, and now I go off and become an international movie star.

“This is just the way it should go. But it wasn’t meant to be. So in those awful heartbeat moments, you just think ahead. And you get on with work.”

But the journey was not over for Brosnan and, after continuing to work on the show and in some other shows, Michael and Barbara Broccoli, Cubby’s children, offered him the fifth Bond after Timothy Dalton had performed in two movies as 007.

Brosnan finally got his dream of being Bond, and he played the character in four movies: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day.

However, the deal was only to last a certain amount of time, and in the end the producers decided, after his final movie as Bond, to cut him loose again.

Speaking of this time, he added: “That certainly dug into the solar plexus of life, just because it was pretty gut-wrenching and because it had been somewhat heralded that I was coming back.

“So, it’s just business. And you’re the one caught in the crosshairs. And, you know, my press agent at the time said, ‘You should resign. You should resign.’

“And I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that, because that’s a lie. It’s a lie onto myself; it’s their decision.

“Let it be their decision, and however you want to look at it, however it will be defined, then let it find its own course.’”



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