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The Real Reasons You Don't Hear From Pierce Brosnan Anymore

Pierce Brosnan is a member of the exclusive fraternity of actors who've portrayed James Bond on the big screen. Between 1995 and 2002, the suave Irish star, at the time best known for his roles in Mrs. Doubtfire and NBC's Remington Steele, foiled supervillains and romanced femme fatales in four films before passing the torch to Daniel Craig. In the years since, Brosnan hasn't been as visible as he was during his 007 tenure. Here's what he's been up to lately.

Many of his movies have been modestly released

Brosnan hasn't quit acting, or even slowed down—it's just that the movies he makes today are relatively low-profile when compared to James Bond blockbusters. Brosnan has starred in a number of indie movies, as well as some out-and-out flops: his recent output includes the religious satire Salvation Boulevard (released on four screens in 2011), the family tragedy The Greatest (19 screens in 2010), and the Nick Hornby adaptation A Long Way Down (five screens in 2014). 

Still, Brosnan's reduced profile in the States doesn't account for the entire world. His critically acclaimed appearance in the Roman Polanski-directed The Ghost Writer earned a mere $15 million in the U.S., but more than three times as much elsewhere. And you can't win 'em all—Brosnan has also appeared in Hollywood duds like Remember Me, I Don't Know How She Does It, The November Man, and No Escape.

He's on a hit TV series

AMC has become a major destination for quality television over the past decade, earning attention and accolades for Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead. Unfortunately, some of its other quality shows have gotten lost in the shuffle of Peak TV—for instance, the network's stylish, pensive Western The Son, starring Brosnan as Eli McCullough, an early 20th-century Texas cattle rancher and budding oil tycoon. It may not get the hype enjoyed by AMC's zombie shows, but in the spring of 2017 The Son was the third-most-watched Saturday night broadcast across cable and broadcast TV.

He does a lot of voiceover work

Brosnan obviously has a commanding screen presence, but his voice is just as important as his appearance. His slightly raspy Irish brogue with a touch of upper-class English accent projects an air of authority, and in recent years he's used that highly recognizable voice in a number of projects. He narrated Thomas & Friends: The Great Discovery, the Disney documentary Oceans, another marine life documentary called Deep Blue, and a 2006 World Cup retrospective. And it isn't all about learning: Brosnan also played an evil computer on a "Treehouse of Horror" segment for The Simpsons.

He's suffered a lot of loss

Sadly, Brosnan has endured a great deal of personal tragedy. In December 1991, his first wife, Australian actress Cassandra Harris, died of ovarian cancer at just 39 years old. Brosnan was Harris's third husband, and he formally adopted her two children from a previous marriage, Charlotte and Christopher. Tragically, 22 years later, Charlotte Brosnan also died of ovarian cancer. Then, in 2016, Brosnan's producing partner Beau Marie St. Clair died of ovarian cancer, too. Understandably, all this loss has shaken Brosnan to his core. "I don't look at the cup as half full, believe me," Brosnan told Esquire. "The dark, melancholy Irish black dog sits besides me from time to time."

Part of his house burned down

Late one night in February 2015, a fire broke out in the garage of Brosnan's home in the beachfront area of Malibu, California, called Broad Beach. The fire spread to a bedroom above the garage, and while nobody was killed or injured in the blaze (Brosnan was home at the time of the incident), the contents of the garage were destroyed. Sheriff's officials estimated the damage at about $1 million. Brosnan lost some paintings, several first-edition books (including James Joyce's Ulysses), and his Aston Martin. "I had just done a week of meditation classes, so I was in this Zen zone of reflection when the s*** hit the proverbial fan," Brosnan told Details (via The Independent). "You take the blow and move on, give thanks you're alive."

He's a painter

Being in movies is a kind of art, and while Brosnan does a lot of that, he's picked up another artistic endeavor: painting. Actually, he picked it back up—he studied to be a commercial artist in England when he was young, put it on hold for his acting career, and since the late '80s has retreated to his painting studio whenever he has a long break between movies. He's working toward staging an exhibition of 25 to 30 of his favorite pieces in a Paris art gallery.

He's in a long-delayed mermaid movie

Brosnan also starred in one of the biggest fantasy films of 2015...or at least he would have, had Paramount released The Moon and the Sun when it was initially scheduled. A period piece based on The Moon and the Sun by Vonda McIntyre (which beat out George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones for the 1997 Nebula Award for Best Novel), the movie starred Brosnan as King Louis XIV of France, who wants to kill a mermaid and use its powers to become immortal against the wishes of his illegitimate daughter (Kaya Scodelario). Just three weeks before its planned release in April 2015, Paramount pulled the movie (also known as The King's Daughter) off its schedule...and it still hasn't returned.

Battling the Bond curse

Both during and after his tenure as 007, Pierce Brosnan hasn't had a lot of non-Bond blockbuster hits. Perhaps, like others that have played the British super-spy before him, he's a victim of typecasting...or, put more dramatically, a "curse." James Bond is a highly coveted role because it's historic, iconic, and at the center of a popular and lucrative film franchise. That's a double-edged sword, because actors become so identified with the role that filmmakers and audiences have a hard time disassociating them from tuxedos and shaken-not-stirred martinis. The first big-screen Bond, Sean Connery, went on to enjoy a massively successful and varied career, but the same can't be said for other Bonds like George Lazenby (who says he was blacklisted after refusing to do more than one 007 movie), Timothy Dalton, and Roger Moore. Brosnan's biggest post-Bond movie to date: the stage-to-screen ABBA musical Mamma Mia!

A return to action with Jackie Chan

Whether he's been affected by the "Bond curse" is up for debate, but Pierce Brosnan is back to making action movies: in 2017, he made his return to the genre with The ForeignerDirected by Martin Campbell, a Bond vet who helmed Casino Royale and Brosnan's first Bond movie, GoldenEye, the story paired Brosnan with another seasoned action star, Jackie Chan. An ex-IRA operative who went legit to work for the Irish government, Brosnan's character finds himself at odds with Chan after a terrorist attack kills Chan's daughter—and the grieving dad becomes convinced Brosnan's covering for some of his old associates. The Foreigner did good business and earned solid reviews, with Brosnan drawing his share of praise from pundits like Andrea Gronvall of the Chicago Reader, who said his performance "fleshes out a vigorous, complex character."

What's next for Pierce Brosnan

A big Pierce Brosnan comeback just might be in the offing. He has a major role in an upcoming thriller called Final Score, which features Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista as an ex-soldier who has to save a soccer stadium full of people taken hostage by criminals. Brosnan will also reprise his role as Sam Carmichael in the sequel to the ABBA musical Mamma Mia, titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Filming has started and Brosnan has already laid down his vocal tracks with the '70s band's leader, Benny Andersson. In addition to upcoming films, Brosnan still has his TV gig keeping him busy: he'll be back on the set for The Son when the AMC hit returns for its second season.