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James Bond (00)70: Happy Birthday, Pierce!

Pierce Brosnan celebrates his 70th birthday today. Not counting that he was born only 33 days after James Bond began to exist as a literary character, his connections to Ian Fleming's character are so impressive that one would never doubt God wanted this man to be 007: he arrived in London on the same day Bond's creator passed away, watching GOLDFINGER on the big screen shortly afterwards; he married an Australian actress, Cassandra Harris, who played a Bond girl in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY; he was cast as Bond for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS before contractual obligations frustrated his chance; and he finally became the Bond for the new millennium in four films and three original video games, beginning with GOLDENEYE in 1995.

At a time when even United Artists and the producers were doubtful of Bond's success after more than six years of absence, Brosnan's debut as 007 not only pleased long-time fans, but also welcomed a new generation of people who got interested in this mysterious man who favoured tailored suits over t-shirts, vodka martinis over beers, and casinos over dim-lit bars. Back then, school playgrounds were filled with kids simulating fights with laser sabres or imitating Goku's Kamehameha attacks, living in the fantasy worlds of STAR WARS or DRAGON BALL. But others dreamed of being in an exotic location wearing a tux, driving an Aston Martin DB5 or sneaking into a classroom pretending it was a chemical facility in the USSR. Much of this, naturally, had to do with the success of the GOLDENEYE 007 for Nintendo 64, which opened the doors for Bond to a different public and retroactively increased interest in the film.

After the critical and financial success of GOLDENEYE, Bond became MGM/UA's top priority and the films returned to the two-year cycle. TOMORROW NEVER DIES pitted 007 against a media mogul and satisfied adrenaline addicts with explosive action scenes from the Russian border to the South China Sea, and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH made Bond –literally– sleep with the enemy as he discovered an oil heiress targeted for death was secretly plotting to kill M and provoking a meltdown on a nuclear submarine below Istanbul. With his first three 007 adventures totalling over a billion dollars, Brosnan's Bond left the 90s behind and was more than ready to face the challenges of the new millennium. EON and MGM took three years to make the first post-9/11 Bond film, DIE ANOTHER DAY. In the instalment that celebrated the 40th anniversary of the franchise, the relevance of 007 was questioned like never before and, after a time imprisoned on North Korean soil, the secret agent not only succeeds in cleaning his name but in terminating a threat to the Western civilization. Despite some criticism of the profusion of special effects and computer-generated images, the film was a huge box office hit.

Brosnan also lent his likeness and/or his voice to original stories for video games published by Electronic Arts: 007 RACING, 007 NIGHTFIRE and 007 EVERYTHING OR NOTHING, the latter released just before negotiations to play the character in a fifth film stopped, in 2004. Unfortunately, Brosnan's tenure as Bond came to an end in an abrupt and indecorous way that disappointed those who grew up seeing him walking through the gunbarrel. And after he departed the role, the gunbarrel (in its original form) became a stranger, womanizing was strongly reduced, fatalism clouded one-liners, and James Bond was literally reduced to ashes somewhere near the Faroes.

Pierce Brosnan played the character blending the best attributes of his predecessors while adding his own style, a mixture of vulnerability and charm. On the big screen, he never surrendered when fighting the likes of Alec Trevelyan or Colonel Moon; but in real life, he never surrendered when tragedy hit him hard.

For his determination, courage, style and grace, the generation that grew up with his Bond wishes to celebrate his life, and to thank him for cheering up our days whenever we rewatch GOLDENEYE or any of his films.

Happy birthday to the last Bond standing.

Happy birthday, Pierce!

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