For reasons that will become clear Saturday, a scheduling juggle earlier this year means I’ve given myself Pierce Brosnan for Mothers’ Day. Surely there are worse presents, and equally surely I would not turn down the man himself if he showed up on my doorstep right now and offered to take me away from all this. So what if he’s only nine years younger than my mother; he’s Pierce Brosnan. Though I’m pretty sure Mom wouldn’t turn him down if he showed up on her doorstep offering to take her away from all this, come to that. I can think of few people who would. Not all of them are usually attracted to men, either.
Probably the first thing I actually saw him in was Mrs. Doubtfire. However, in college, I saw Remington Steele for the first time and became minorly obsessed. It wasn’t just that he was an attractive man, though there certainly is that. It was that casual charm, that wit, that in-depth movie knowledge. Remington is a man with a past and no past, all at once, and one of the interesting things that develops about the character over the course of the series is how much compassion he has for others because of it. He knows what it’s like to grow up with nothing and no one, and there is always a tenderness in him for the outcast, even if it also means he finds other people’s family lives incomprehensible.
Yes, it kept him out of Bond for several years, but as I don’t actually like James Bond much, that doesn’t bother me as much as it does him. I’d much rather watch Laura and Remington will-they-or-won’t-they across Europe than watching James Bond oh-yes-he-will in the same places. I honestly think Remington Steele gave him more to do, though I’m not sure how popular an opinion that is even among people who have seen as much of the show as I have.
He’s got romantic lead looks and abilities—even now, at 65—and sharp flair for comedy, including comedy of the ridiculous. He’s clearly having fun in Mars Attacks!, for instance, and letting the ridiculous be ridiculous. I’m more fond of Dante’s Peak than it deserves, which is only partly because of him, but he’s probably the reason I own it. Films such as Seraphim Falls and The Matador deserve more attention, too. I feel as though being Bond was bad for him inasmuch as it pigeonholed him as Bond, and he may well be the most talented actor ever to play the role.
He’s also one of those people who has a desperately hardscrabble childhood to overcome. His life sounds a bit like something out of a book by Frank McCourt or Maeve Binchy, though I grant you neither author was likely to put in the bit about having been a professional fire-eater. Say what you will about Remington Steele—it let the man play to his abilities.