Pierce Brosnan on loss: ‘The dark, melancholy Irish black dog sits beside me’

Jessica Chastain at The Son Season One LA Premiere Event

Pierce Brosnan is the star of a new TV show: AMC’s The Son. Pierce plays the father! The series is based on Philipp Meyer’s 2013 novel, and Pierce plays patriarch Eli McCullough, who wants to pass on the family business (oil) to his children. To promote the show, Pierce has obviously been giving interviews, and g–damn if he doesn’t come across as one of the nicest and most low-key dudes out there. For background: Pierce lost his first wife, Cassandra, to ovarian cancer in 1992. Then in 2013, he lost his daughter (he adopted Cassandra’s children) Charlotte to the same form of ovarian cancer. After being a widower for a decade, he married Keely Shaye Smith and they’ve been together ever since. Anyway, you can read Pierce’s new Esquire profile here. Some highlights:

His four sons: “I know what it’s like to bring up sons and it can be a very arduous road. My fatherly instincts are purely my own. They relate back to no one, because there was no one.”

His father abandoned Pierce & his mom, and his mom left town to find work, so he lived in a boarding house as a kid: “There were two lodgers—workingmen, one in the factory and one in the sawmill. I had a metal bed with a curtain around it…. That was my room and my haven and my space.”

He met his father one time: “I only met Tom the once,” he says. It was in 1984, when, at Brosnan’s suggestion, Remington Steele, the detective procedural that made him famous, filmed an episode in Ireland. “I had a Sunday afternoon with him. A story about this and that, had a few pints of Guinness, and we said goodbye.” Brosnan squints in the sunlight. “I would have loved to have known him. He was a good whistler and he had a good walk…. That’s as much as I know about him.”

Losing his wife, daughter & producing partner to cancer: “I don’t look at the cup as half full, believe me. The dark, melancholy Irish black dog sits beside me from time to time.”

His downtime: Yet he’s been able to find equanimity as of late. Brosnan is a prolific painter, and he is learning to appreciate downtime. “My days are full in a leisurely sort of way,” he says. “This morning I worked out, read The New York Times, enjoyed watching my wife in the editing room, then came to meet you.” When he’s not filming, he splits his time between what he considers his greatest indulgences: the two houses he and Smith own in Malibu and Hawaii. “You don’t need a big home,” he says. “You need a good table to sit at, a good bed to sleep in, a view, and a great bottle of wine.”

[From Esquire]

Winston Churchill called it that too, The Black Dog. It was a reference to melancholy moods, if not flat-out depression. Churchill tried to keep The Black Dog at bay by painting as well, like Pierce does. It sounds like Pierce also has carved out a space which makes him feel safe and brings him joy: a home in Hawaii and a wife he adores. Anyway, I love Pierce and I appreciate that he’s not pretending to be hashtag-blessed or whatever – this is a man who has endured profound losses in his life and yes, of course it has affected him and it still affects him. To lose three women (Cassandra, Charlotte and his producing partner) who were so important to him? Of course he deals with depression and melancholy. Of course he has a hard time being optimistic.

Jessica Chastain at The Son Season One LA Premiere Event

Jessica Chastain at The Son Season One LA Premiere Event

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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31 Responses to “Pierce Brosnan on loss: ‘The dark, melancholy Irish black dog sits beside me’”

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  1. Claree says:

    The ‘black dog’ imagery always confounds me – I struggled with anxiety/depression in my mid twenties, particularly when I was struggling to write my PhD thesis…and it was a black dog ( our wonderful now 14 year old lab), who I have no doubt in my mind saved my life and my marriage. to me, black dog = so much love and a loudly thumping tail.

    This interview choked me up a little bit – just goes to show how mental health/sadness/depression/whatever can’t be erased with money and fame, or even a loving family. Be kind to each other folks.

  2. jugil1 says:

    I love him….that’s all I’ve got.

  3. marigold says:

    “I would have loved to have known him. He was a good whistler and he had a good walk…. That’s as much as I know about him.” – so lovely and so poignant

    Always loved him, even from back in the old Remington Steele days. As an Irish person, we were very proud of him and how far he made it even back then.

  4. S says:

    I had a very odd crush on him when I was very young — under 10 — and a huge Remington Steele fan. When friends and I would play house I would always be Mrs. Brosnon and we had lots of doll children. (Also, coincidentally my best friend at the time was named Keely; no relation, but the only other time I’ve ever seen that name.)

    Anywho, I’m comforted to think that while other childhood crushes did not end well — looking at you, Kirk Cameron — I chose well with Pierce Bronson. I’m 40 now and, yeah, he’s still got it.

    I love his realism, his privacy and his loyalty … And I’m more than a little jealous of his house on Kauai, too. The occasional paparazzi pictures you see from the beach there always make it look like they’re a very happy, down-to-earth couple/family.

  5. hmmm says:

    He’s always been such a sweetheart. I would marry him in a heartbeat. I am envious of his life now.

  6. minx says:

    I had forgotten about his daughter dying, too…he has had a lot to bear. Such a classy, nice man.

  7. Abbess Tansy says:

    Always had a soft spot for this lovely man and I truly feel for him in dealing with his losses. In recent years, I lost my parents within 14 months of each other and 3 of their siblings. Also 2 very dear friends. I am not Irish but yet there are moments where I feel the black dog beside me. Wish him the very best.

  8. ana says:

    Ive always loved this man and this interview is just 1 more reason why.

  9. Mia4s says:

    I remember hearing about his daughter and the cruelty of that loss (on top of the loss of her mother) just infuriated me. I wish him nothing but the best. He and Keely have been together forever now and I hope they have a long happy life.

  10. Nikki says:

    How I love Irish poeticism. The big black dog sounds so much lovelier than “I get depressed etc.”! He is lovely inside and out

  11. Snowflake says:

    He lost his wife and daughter to cancer? I did not know that

  12. Happy21 says:

    Remington Steel was one my favorite shows as a kid/teen. I had the biggest crush on Remmy.
    He seems like such a low key, wonderful human. I just loved this interview and think I’m going to have to check out his new show.

  13. what's inside says:

    He is an epitome of what a man should be.

  14. TQB says:

    I loved him as Steele and he was Bond to me before he ever got to be Bond. I think I wore out a copy of The Thomas Crowne Affair. He is charming and handsome, onscreen and off.

  15. SilverUnicorn says:

    Loved him since Remington Steele and still do. I remembered about his wife and daughter dying of the same cancer, awful.
    One of the few actors who seems to be well grounded. Wish him the best.

  16. Kris says:

    God, will help ever stop being attractive? I’very had a crush on him for almost thirty years!

  17. Asiyah says:

    I love him to bits!

  18. Christin says:

    I remember when Cassandra was ill and how stoic they both seemed. Going through loss can definitely change a person. You realize how fragile life is, and how compassion matters.

    His comments about what makes a good house are spot on. A view you enjoy is worth more than a lot of floor space to maintain, pay taxes on, etc.

  19. upstate diva says:

    I loved him as an actor since Manions of America (more than 30 years! I am old). Despite the fact the admiring celebrities is a risky business for the emotions, I have admired the way he has been in every story and picture of his family from Cassie on and the way he has conducted himself through loss and grief and joy.

  20. cynic says:

    I have a real soft spot for him, also. He has always seemed like a nice, likable person. I remember how gutted he was when his wife passed away, and later, when his daughter also died.

  21. Tig says:

    Bet him and Hugh Jackman-sigh. Wish they could appear on Graham Norton together! They are both just such good guys.
    I am too lazy to look it up, but he and Kate Mulgrew starred in a mini-series together ages ago- they were so pretty it made your eyes hurt.
    His observation re the “black dog” is so true.

  22. mee says:

    Lovely man inside and out.

  23. Trashaddict says:

    He was so good in the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair” and he’s always been gorgeous but has a beautiful soul too. Hearing the childhood stuff explains a lot. I love him all the more that he didn’t marry a tiny little trophy wife.

  24. serena says:

    My heart goes out to him.. I really like Pierce, he is an actor/man you can hardly find these days, imo. I hope his projects will turn out great!

  25. Debutante says:

    My mother used to call out to me, “your boyfriend is on” when Remington Steele came on tv, and I would barrel into the living room to see him. I was around 20 then, and honestly, he has gotten hotter with age ! What a sweet, handsome man. Looks like we are ALL smitten with him!
    That doesn’t happen often on here !

  26. Debutante says:

    And now I’m thinking of my Mom , who is long deceased, and that black dog just came over and sat next to me…