Pierce Brosnan Biography

Pierce Brendan Brosnan ( Pierce Brosnan ) was born in Navan, County Meath, Ireland on May 16, 1953. He moved with his family to London in 1964 [apparently on the very same day that Ian Fleming died], where one of the first films he saw was Goldfinger. He became a commercial artist after leaving school, but was introduced to acting by a co-worker who was in a theatre group in the evenings. He left his job for the life of an actor, and entered the Drama Centre in London, where he studied acting for 3 years.
young Pierce

After several years of stage work throughout the UK, he began to work in television and film. His "big break" came with the 1981 ABC-TV mini-series The Manions of America, which led to him getting the title role in the popular long-running detective series Remington Steele, which debuted in 1982.

He moved with his wife and children to Los Angeles, California, where he Steele was filmed. The series was quite successful, running for more than 4 seasons and 92 episodes. It catapulted Pierce to major stardom in the America.

Rumors began as early as 1984 that Pierce would replace Roger Moore as the next James Bond. Due to contractural obligations, he was unable to accept the role when it was originally offered to him in 1986. [See "The Road to Bond"]

Pierce remained busy as an actor despite that setback, making television mini-series, theatrical films and made-for-cable movies, as well as several TV commercials.

On June 8, 1994, Pierce Brosnan was unveiled at a huge press conference in London as the 5th James Bond 007. His first Bond film, GoldenEye, grossed over $350 million worldwide, more than any other Bond film to that point. His 2nd Bond film, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies, grossed more money in the US than GoldenEye. Together, his 4 Bond films have grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. Brosnan was relieved of his Bond duties in the summer of 2004.

Aside from the Bond and Steele roles, Pierce has had a varied and extensive film and TV career, playing roles ranging from archeologists to assassins, from Chris Columbus' comedies to Merchant Ivory's costume dramas. He also starred in director John (Die Hard) McTiernan's first feature film, Nomads. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1984 for his portrayal of Robert Gould Shaw in the BBC/Masterpiece Theatre production of Nancy Astor. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 1997 (star #2099), which can be found at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

In his spare time, he is an painter. He has also been active in cancer fund-raising and supporting environmental causes. He was awarded an honorary OBE by the British government for his film and charitable work in July 2003.

His 1st wife, Australian actress Cassandra Harris (died 1991), was a "Bond girl" herself, portraying Countess Lisl in For Your Eyes Only. She was previously married to Dermot Harris, brother of the actor Richard Harris. There is a whale watching station dedicated to her in Malibu Bluffs Park (California). He has 3 children with Cassandra -- Sean (born 1983) and stepchildren Charlotte (born 1971) and Christopher (born 1972) -- and 2 sons, Dylan Thomas (born 1997) and Paris Beckett (born 2001), with his 2nd wife, former TV correspondent/soap actress Keely Shaye Smith, whom he married in August 2001. He has two grandchildren, Charlotte's daughter Isabelle Sophie (born 1998) and son Lucas (born 2005).

Jackie Chan Biography

The boy who would become Jackie Chan was born April 7, 1954 with the name Chan Kong-sang in Hong Kong. Compared to many other mainland refugees (as a result of China's Communist revolution), the Chan family had it fairly easy. His parents worked for the French ambassador; his father as a cook, his mother as a maid.

Early on, Chan displayed his trademark energy. His parents nicknamed him "Pao-Pao" (cannonball) because he was always rolling around. However, this energy also got him into much trouble. Young Kong-sang was never good at school, and he was always getting into fights using the martial arts training his father gave him (which would result in his father's punishments -- something that Chan would explore in the Drunken Master films). Deciding he had too much free time on his hands, Chan's father enrolled the boy in the China Drama Academy.

Chan would spend the next ten years of his life at the academy, taking the name Yuen Lo -- all of the students took the surname "Yuen." Chan would awake at the crack of dawn and train until dusk under the guise of the tough Master Yu Jim-yuen, who would dish out severe punishment just as soon (or even quicker) as he would praise. Chan also faced hardships from his "big brothers" (older students). The toughest of these students, Yuen Lung, would come to work with Chan on some of his most notable films -- under the name Sammo Hung. Several other notable Hong Kong stars came out of the academy, including the last of the "three brothers" Yuen Biao.

As time wore on, it was becoming apparent that fewer people were going to see the opera, and more were going to the cinema. In order to support the school, Master Yu allowed some of his older students to work on films full-time, mostly as stuntmen and extras in generic kung-fu films. After a few years, Chan decided to strike out on his own as a stuntman, much to his family's dismay.

In order to keep his family happy, he lied and said he had a contract with a studio, when, in reality, he was living from paycheck to paycheck, working on small films or putting on opera exhibitions. Eventually, Chan found semi-regular work at the prestigious Shaw Bros. studio as a "junior boy" (basically a glorified extra). Chan started hanging around the stuntmen and impressed them enough that he began doing stunt work on films, often without the aid of wires or nets, because many directors wanted to reduce the costs on the film.

When Chan began to make some real money, the boy who grew up in relative poverty, started to spend it like a rich man, delving heavily into drinking and gambling. His fellow stuntmen dubbed him Yeh Fu Pai ("gambles with everyone"). A few times, his gambling got him into trouble with local thugs and Chan barely escaped with the clothes on his back.

The film industry grew crowded with former opera students like Chan and stunt work dwindled. Chan was still finding work (mostly on the strength of his reputation as a fearless stuntman), but he spent more time at a local bar than on the set. It was during one of these drinking excursions that he met up with his former nemesis, Sammo Hung. The two put their former differences behind them and became friends. With the return of Yuen Biao from Los Angeles, the "three brothers" were complete.

Time passed, and while Chan gained the reputation as Hong Kong's best stuntman, he still felt unsatisfied. He wanted to be a star. So when one of his former classmates offered him a chance to work in front of the camera, Chan jumped at the chance. Taking the stage name of Yuen Lung, Chan's first experience as a star in Little Tiger of Canton (aka Snake Fist Fighter) was less than stellar, and he soon returned to being a stuntman, working on such notable films as Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Eventually, doing stunt work started to grow tiresome (mostly due to Sammo's -- the stunt coordinator on many films -- demanding directions), and Chan signed on with the small Da Di studio.

Chan made two films at Da Di -- both flops. Chan's status as a rising Hong Kong film star was in jeopardy. Chan was also having trouble finding stunt work; with the saturation of Bruce Lee knock-offs that hit Hong Kong after his death, audiences were turning off to martial arts movies and many studios reduced their budgets or closed outright. Out of work and broke, Chan joined his family in Australia, where he took odd jobs to support himself. It was on one of these jobs that he got the nickname "Jackie" and the name stuck. Chan Kong-sang became Jackie Chan.

Chan's manager and long-time friend, Willie Chan, kept his contacts alive in Hong Kong, and eventually Jackie was contacted by director Lo Wei to star in the sequel to Fist of Fury. Lo Wei was no John Woo (who Chan had worked with in a brief return to Hong Kong) and almost immeadiately the two hated each other. None of the Lo/Chan collaborations were too successful, so when rival director Ng See-Yuen asked to have Chan "loaned" to him, Lo agreed.

It was under Ng than Chan was able to realize his dream of meshing comedy and kung-fu, first in Snake in Eagle's Shadow and then Drunken Master, both of which were huge hits at the box office. Jackie Chan was now a star. But Lo Wei would not let him go that easily, and he tried to hold Chan to his contract. Chan filmed only one more film for Lo's company, Fearless Hyena, walking out in disgust in the middle of filming the sequel. Chan broke his contract and signed with Golden Harvest, but Lo used his Triad connections and started having thugs sent to the set to threaten Jackie. Things were getting bad. On the advice of Willie, Chan decided to try his hand at Hollywood.

His next US film, The Protector, didn't do much better than Battle Creek Brawl. Chan also disliked The Protector for the gratuitous sex and profanity, cutting them out and adding new fight sequences for the movie's Hong Kong release. However, like his previous trip, Chan took back new ideas with him. He took the basic idea of The Protector and made the film that would set the standard for years to come: Police Story. The highly successful mix of action, martial arts, comedy, romance and stunts (not to mention the obligatory blooper reel) would become the prototype for many of Chan's films through the 1980's and 90's, including Supercop, First Strike and Crime Story. Dragons Forever would be the final "three brothers" film, though Sammo would later work with Chan as a director on Mr. Nice Guy. Chan returned to his roots in 1994 with the excellent Drunken Master II, his first traditional martial arts picture in ten years. "Pao-Pao" was at the top of the heap in Hong Kong, and ready to take on Hollywood once again -- but this time he was going to do it on his own terms.

In 1995, Chan filmed Rumble in the Bronx with the express purpose of making a film that could work for both US and HK audiences. While retaining many "classic" Chan elements, the story was put in an American setting and used many western actors. The gamble paid off. Even though it wasn't a runaway hit, Rumble made enough money at the box office to encourage New Line to re-release several of Chan's older films. The box office draw and continued "buzz" around Chan eventually led to the making of Rush Hour, Chan's first US project in over ten years, which was a huge hit. It became New Line's most successful film to date, taking in over $110 million. Chan's dream of being a worldwide star had finally come true.

Rowan Atkinson Biography

Rowan Atkinson was born in Consett, Co Durham, England. His father owned a farm in the area, but he was brought up in a residential area. He had two older brothers Rupert and Rodney. He went to Public school (ie Private) in England. He attended Newcastle University before going to Oxford in 1975, and it was at Oxford that he met screenwriter Richard Curtis, with whom he wrote and performed comedy revues at the Oxford Playhouse and later at the Edinburgh Fringe.

After an acclaimed revue at the Hampstead Theater in 1978, Atkinson was offered starring roles in two British television series, but chose instead to join the BBC's legendary "Not The Nine O'Clock News" team, where he first performed with Tall Guy director Mel Smith. The show recorded hugely successful albums, released several best-selling books, won an International Emmy Award, and the British Academy Award for "Best Light Entertainment Program of 1980."

For his performance in "Not the Nine O'Clock News," Atkinson personally won the "British Academy Award" and was named "BBC Personality of the Year." His show at London's Globe Theater was sold-out for its entire run, and he won the Society of West End Theaters award for "Comedy Performance of the Year."

In 1983, he began working with The Tall Guy screenwriter Richard Curtis on their "situation tragedy" -- "Black Adder" -- for BBC Television. After touring the world with his own show and appearing in "The Nerd" in London's West End, Atkinson co-wrote and starred in two new seasons of the innovative series "Black Adder."

While filming The Tall Guy during the day, Atkinson could be found in the theater in the evenings starring in "The Sneeze," a collection of Checkov adaptations. Atkinson played a British consul opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond film "Never Say Never Again," and in 1989 co-starred with Steven Wright in the Academy Award-winning short film "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings." He was recently seen in Nocholas Roeg's "The Witches" alongside Angelica Huston, in which he is once again cast as a villian, and all across the world in his "Bean" film.