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Pierce Brosnan’s path to super-stardom was a slow journey that had begun in the early 1980s with a minor role in the gritty British drama The Long Good Friday, but it would take another fifteen years before the Irish-born actor became an A-list star following his first appearance as the iconic spy James Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye. While he had been approached for the role a decade earlier following the departure of Roger Moore, his prior commitments to the popular soap Remington Steele forced him to lose out on the part to Timothy Dalton.
Following his departure from the show in 1987 Brosnan, then in his mid-thirties, appeared in a handful of made-for-TV movies before landing the role of an ambitious-yet-misguided scientist in the virtual reality sci-fi horror The Lawnmower Man, an adaptation of a Stephen King short story that featured Jeff Fahey as a mentally-challenged young man who agrees to become the subject of the doctor’s radical experiments to increase his intelligence.
While the film failed to gain positive reviews from critics it proved a modest success on home video, but the following year his career received a much-needed boost with a supporting role in Mrs. Doubtfire, which starred Robin Williams as a struggling actor whose estranged wife wins custody of their three children, forcing him to take drastic measures by adopting the appearance of Mrs. Doubtfire, an elderly Scottish nanny with the help of prosthetics from his make-up artist friend. In the role of Stu Dunmeyer, the boyfriend of Williams’ wife Miranda Hillard (Sally Field), Brosnan was by no means the villain of the story, bringing some much-needed happiness into the life of Miranda and her family, but for Williams’ Daniel, Stu is nothing short of the antagonist.
With Williams tragically passing away earlier this month at the age of sixty-three, Brosnan has shared his memories on several occasions of working with the late actor and comedian. ‘My first day on the set they said, ‘Do you want to meet Robin?’ I’d never met the man, I was so excited,’ he told Ireland’s the Independent soon after the news of his passing was announced. ‘I walked into the trailer and there was Robin, sitting there in a pair of UGG boots, hairy legs and shorts and Hawaiian shirt and hairy chest and the head of Mrs. Doubtfire. That’s how I met Robin Williams and that’s how I met Mrs. Doubtfire.’
During an appearance on Conan O’Brien, who had paused his chat show to pay tribute to Williams, having heard the news while on air, Brosnan recalled one of many examples of his co-star’s high spirits on set. ‘We did a scene in that movie where my character Stu is at the table, the dinner table, chokes on a shrimp,’ he explained. ‘And we did a sequence where it was my close-up, they sent the kids away, and he just let it rip. I mean, he was just so foul-mouthed and funny, and completely about Sally’s character…Sexual innuendos and, ‘Ooh, she likes a lot of rubber. She likes a good spanking.’ And I’m trying to say the lines, I’m trying to follow the script, but he’s going completely off to Pluto and back again.’
Most recently Brosnan answered a series of fan questions on Reddit, during which the subject of Williams arose. ‘I adored him. He will be forever in my heart, and making Mrs. Doubtfire was one of those joyous jobs that doesn’t come around that often,’ he said. ‘Every day was an adventure with Robin. You never knew what was going to come out of the man’s mouth. I didn’t work with Robin Williams, I worked with Mrs. Doubtfire. He gave me a letter bound copy of the screenplay of Mrs. Doubtfire with an inscription saying, ‘Thank you for putting up with this foulmouthed old bag.’ Because he would be foul; just go off and do stand-up routines, you know? As Mrs. Doubtfire. Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire doing a riff on Imelda Marcos’ shoes.’Following the news of Williams’ death, Brosnan posted a tribute to the star on his Facebook page: ‘Dear Robin…you made me laugh like no other…You bedazzled the world with your brilliant genius. Mrs Doubtfire and you will forever be in my heart, and the memory of you good man, shall remain constant through out my days. It was a joy to work with you on a film that will be passed on from generation to generation. And to your loving family I extend my deepest heartfelt sympathies and prayers. Peace be with you. Pierce.’ In April 2014 it was announced that Fox 2000 were developing a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire almost twenty years after its release, with both Williams and director Chris Columbus set to return, while Elf writer David Berenbaum would write the script.
Rumours of a Mrs. Doubtfire 2 had bee circling since 2001 but it would not be until thirteen years later that serious discussions were held between the studio and talent. But as Variety reported the day of Williams’ death, without the star who had played the title role it seemed unlikely that a sequel would now be produced. ‘His performances were unlike anything any of us had ever seen,’ said Columbus in honour of his friend and collaborator, ‘The world was a better place with Robin in it. And his beautiful legacy will live on forever.’