Pierce Brosnan plays patriarch Eli McCullough in “The Son” on AMC. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMC
By Karen Butler
“The Son” star Pierce Brosnan says he will be grateful to accept an honorary doctorate for environmental advocacy from Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College on this Sunday, May 19.
The 65-year-old Drogheda-born actor is scheduled to give the commencement address at Dickinson. The school is recognizing the actor for his work with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“As a fellow who left school pretty early in life, this is a huge honor and one that I take to my heart with great pride,” Brosnan told the Irish Echo in a recent telephone interview.
The recognition for his activism is validation for how he and his spouse have chosen to live their lives together.
“I have a great wife in Keely Shaye,” the actor said of the U.S. journalist he married 18 years ago.
Together, they are the parents of Paris and Dylan. Brosnan also has two sons, Sean and Christopher, from his marriage to the late Cassandra Harris.
“[Keely] and I have been blessed with a good friendship of love and partnership of being a mom and dad to two great boys. Her commitment to her work is an inspiration,” Brosnan said. “[Activism] goes hand in hand with our own marriage and love and concern for trying to make the world a better place. It all starts with the ABCs of environmentalism, really, and children and the education of this generation that is on the cusp of the next decade and beyond.”
Until now, Brosnan has spoken at only a single other graduation -- one of his son’s -- and he takes the task seriously.
“There is a certain deep responsibility that comes with its own anxiety of trying to speak from the heart and give these young men and women, who are about to step into the world, some hope and comfort and assurance that all will be well and they are fully equipped with their lives to walk out the door and face the challenges,” he said.
The one-time James Bond portrayer is currently in New York working on the thriller, “False Positive.”
“It’s extremely relevant within the genre of a horror movie to what goes on in our society with the world of fertility and fertility doctors. It’s a character that I’ve never played before,” he teased, without giving away too much of the plot.
The actor can also be seen playing ruthless Texas rancher and family patriarch Eli McCullough in “The Son,” which begins its second and final season Saturday night on AMC.
Set primarily in the early 1900s, the show features flashbacks to the 1850s when young Eli is being raised by the Comanche tribe who slaughtered his settler family.
“I love that point of history, the turn of the century here in America, and, being brought up on a staple of cowboys and Indians going to the cinema as a boy in Ireland, it was very much in my wheelhouse,” Brosnan said.
“Eli is definitely one of those rich, textured, nuanced characters from the great book by Philipp Meyer. And I was in the company and surrounded by an ensemble of just absolutely talented, passionate and really kind-hearted fellow actors,” he added, referring to his co-stars Henry Garrett, Zahn McLarnon, Jess Weixler, Paola Nunez and Sydney Lucas.
Brosnan said he signed on late to the project because he replaced Sam Neill, his “dear friend,” who exited the role due to personal reasons.
“I was really thrown in at the deep end. The ensemble of actors had already been in Austin, preparing for months and then, unfortunately, the other actor couldn’t do it,” Brosnan recalled. “And, so, I was I asked to do it. It was the last thing I expected to do was to go off and play a Texan.”\
In reality, Brosnan shares few personality traits with Eli, who pressures his sons to protect the family’s business interests at all costs, particularly when oil is discovered near their land.
“The psychology of the character was very much in evidence in the book, so I would reference the book constantly,” he said. “His nature really is that of a Comanche Indian, but he has had to somewhat dissemble himself and become a part of the modern-day society.”
One way Brosnan connected with Eli is that they are both fathers.
“Having four sons and trying to bring them out into the world and the passion it takes and the heartache it takes at times, I knew about that. I ride horses. And the weapons? I’d worked with weapons before on my days of Bond and other jobs and gone to shooting ranges.”
“The Son” airs on Saturday nights on AMC.