Every generation has its own James Bond. For folks 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 went deep on his biggest roles—none of which, of course, is more iconic than Bond.
Brosnan explains that taking over the role from beloved past Bonds to star in 1995’s Goldeneye required a careful blend of respect and innovation.. “For me, it was trying to walk a line between Roger [Moore] and Sean Connery and not being shy about taking from their work,” says Brosnan. “I allowed myself the grace to try and get the sense of humour that both men brought to the part.” In addition to the mental pressure of playing James Bond, his iteration had an added physicality. “You get chipped, you get nicked, you pull muscles, you get stitched up,” explains Brosnan.
When not playing an international spy, Brosnan kept busy in Hollywood. Working with Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire provided one highlight. “He leads with his heart and his soul and every fibre of his being,” Brosnan says of his late costar. “I went to work everyday on that movie and I was always working with Mrs. Doubtfire. It wasn’t until the end of the movie that I met Robin.”
Brosnan’s career took another surprising turn when fans watched him sing his heart out to the one and only Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia. “It was terrifying having to do these songs,” says Brosnan. However, the actor found comfort in his co-stars, Stellan Skarsgård and Colin Firth, on the day they recorded the soundtrack. “[They] Look[ed] like rabbits caught in the headlights. They were terrified. We were all terrified.”
In 2010, he played a former British prime minister with a complicated past in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. Brosnan recalls Polanski insisting, “‘No no, it’s not about Tony Blair,’ but all roads lead to Tony Blair so I watched Tony Blair.”