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A Bond long gone: Pierce Brosnan leaves the iconic spy role ever further behind

April 1, 2010 |  6:00 am

Pierce It's been eight years since Pierce Brosnan last played James Bond, but the actor still sometimes feels he's living in the shadow of the iconic spy.

In a story in Thursday's paper, Brosnan, 56, acknowledged that in the public's eye, he's still "very connected to the image and history of Bond."

"It just lives with you. It permeates your life," said the actor last week in an interview at a Beverly Hills hotel. "And you know that going in, but the reality of it -- the overcoat is really large, and can be quite heavy at times. So you have to break the shackles of that."

Brosnan has certainly thrown his effort into trying to diversify: by the end of the spring, he will have appeared in five radically different films.

His most recent project, "The Greatest," on which he also served as a producer, opens Friday and tells the story of a father grappling with the death of his son. 

Even the star of that film, Carey Mulligan, said she initially identified with Brosnan as Bond.

“He is my generation’s James Bond,” said the actress. “I played the video game of him with my brother on Nintendo 64.”

But "The Greatest" is a far cry from an action thriller. It shares in the serious tone of March's "Remember Me," in which he was embattled in a different kind of father-son relationship with teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson. There has also been Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer," in which Brosnan played an emotionally distant former prime minister, as well as his less dramatic turn as a bearded centaur in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." Later this month, he'll serve as the narrator on the environmental documentary "Oceans."

The projects have taken Brosnan back to his roots as an actor. He said he's even considering publishing a memoir, like his character in "The Ghost Writer."

"I have kept journals -- scratchings of a life," he said. "It can be a rather gut-wrenching moment to try and delve into your past to figure out who you are and what you remember -- and what you don't remember."

But would he hire his own ghost writer?

"I would give it my best go," he said, laughing.

Part of that story would inevitably include Brosnan's upbringing, which he described as "fractured and very Catholic." After moving from Ireland to England at age 11, he was branded the "token Irishman" and took to running with a tough crowd at his new school, kids who thought actors were dorks. And yet, as he was putting on the bad guy act, Brosnan found himself constantly playing a role.

“That was, I suppose, the first seeds of creating another image or facade,” he said. “I realized that I had a performance within me and that I could fit into a landscape, even though it wasn’t one I really believed in or felt part of.”

For more with Brosnan, read our story here.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Pierce Brosnan poses outside at the Luxe Hotel. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times.