Bond and Beyond

Mandate - - Hollywood - By Sean Woods

What ad­ven­ture or jour­ney changed your life?

In 1981, I bor­rowed £ 2,000—a lot of money back then—paid 50 quid for a seat, packed my own sand­wich, and hopped on a plane to Amer­ica. It was a mighty leap, but one that paid off. A week later, I got a job called Rem­ing­ton Steele.

What’s the best ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived?

Joseph Sar­gent, a di­rec­tor and dear friend, said, ‘Just re­mem­ber you’re al­ways go­ing to have to test for some­one.’ You’re al­ways go­ing to have to prove your­self, be­cause act­ing is such a capri­cious game. You have to stay strong and hun­gry, hum­ble and coura­geous. And that doesn’t change. If you get too non­cha­lant, then it just goes away. So, I have to do as much to­day as I did when I was 24, 25. I just do it at a dif­fer­ent pace with a lit­tle more knowl­edge in the back pocket.

You were raised by a sin­gle mother in ’50s Ire­land and spent time liv­ing with a foster fam­ily. What did that teach you?

It’s hard on pa­per, but it had its own beauty to it. There was the jour­ney to Eng­land as a boy of 11, and that was a pow­er­ful land­scape for me. You learn pretty quickly how to as­sim­i­late in a new ter­ri­tory. Cer­tainly, they never let you for­get that you are Ir­ish and you’re an im­mi­grant. When I was at school, they just knew me as Ir­ish. You know, that was my name. Didn’t want to say ‘Pierce,’ so I wore it as an em­blem. It was great. I was in. I’m an Ir­ish James Bond, and there’s de­light­ful irony in that.

You were raised Catholic—what role does re­li­gion play in a man’s life?

Well, the Christian Brothers were quite fe­ro­cious, and yet the un­der­ly­ing faith was al­ways so beau­ti­ful for me—serv­ing Mass, the whole the­atri­cal­ity of it. You know, the adage ‘Once a Catholic, al­ways a Catholic,’ I sup­pose. Ul­ti­mately, it has to do with kind­ness. My re­li­gious phi­los­o­phy is kind­ness. Try to be kind. That’s some­thing worth achiev­ing.

What ad­vice would you give to the younger you?

Don’t worry—it’s go­ing to be okay. Hon­estly, I’ll be right as rain. There’s al­ways anx­i­ety— the anx­i­ety of be­ing an ac­tor—and that goes with you ev­ery time you walk onto a set. Some­times it comes easy; some­times it doesn’t. You learn to live with that.

Was James Bond hard to leave be­hind?

I don’t want to get rid of him; it was the most mem­o­rable time, a truly life- chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. There was a cer­tain wrench when it came to a rather abrupt end. But you just take that phone call, and you move on. And, you know, it’s just business. It’s truly that.

What role should van­ity play in a per­son’s life?

A healthy one. It’s good to like your­self, and that only comes from hard work, from do­ing. But van­ity is dan­ger­ous; it can trip you badly.

You’ve suf­fered ter­ri­ble tragedies: Your first wife and your daugh­ter both died of can­cer. How should a per­son han­dle loss?

Well, it just en­dures. You learn to find a place for it, and you can al­ways go to it. Hope­fully you have good friends and fam­ily around, and I did. It’s big. Life is charged with feel­ings and loss, and you know you’re go­ing to suf­fer one way or the other. You just hope you can find peace with the pain.

What’s the best thing for a hang­over?

Well, I think the Bloody Mary still stands tall on the top of any­one’s list. But that’s not how I’m start­ing my day.

In re­cent years, you’ve fought against whal­ing and cli­mate change. When should a man take a stand?

It’s es­sen­tial that ev­ery­one take a stand for the Earth. It’s es­sen­tial that we stand up for the air we breathe, the wa­ter we drink.

How should a man han­dle get­ting older?

Stay fit. Stay con­stant. Stay in touch with your emo­tions. And have a sense of hu­mour.

The Ir­ish Bond on hang­overs, hard­ship,

and the role that shaped his ca­reer.


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