I was having drinks with my fiancée the other night, being my usual romantic self, talking about how UFOs are here and probably infiltrating our civilization right now. I asked her what she thought about extraterrestrial life visiting us from beyond the stars, to which she responded with “when did Pierce Brosnan stop being sexy?”
The mental connection must’ve been because Pierce Brosnan was once out-of-this world dreamy. Or she wasn’t listening to me in the first place
Bitter that my conversation about UFOs had been thoroughly high-jacked, I responded “Pierce Brosnan was never sexy. His best role was the unlikable other-man in Mrs. Doubtfire. He wasn’t even a good Bond. I’m the only one who is sexy to you. Pierce Brosnan.” I said this last part in a petulant, undignified tone.
Pffff…every other man alive in 2001 must’ve been pretty ugly
Temper tantrum notwithstanding, let’s figure out if and when Pierce turned the page from “suave British charmer” to “old”. We’ll do it in terms of his career, because people are more familiar with his movies than his age, and it allows me to make fun of his film choices. Because this smug bastard needs to be taken down a peg.
I could watch this all day
1995-2002: The Bond Years – Peak Attractiveness
I guess we might as well start here. Pierce Brosnan first played James Bond in GoldenEye in 1995, and even his harshest critics can’t say he wasn’t sexy then. In a simplified sense, men’s attractiveness can be broken down broadly to three themes – physical attractiveness, personality, and social status/resource attainment. In other words, looks, personality, and money. Also, you can trust what it says in that link above, because it’s a book chapter written by one of the greats of science, me.
Let’s see Pierce Brosnan write one of these bad boys
Anyways, Pierce Brosnan looked pretty good during the Bond Years. He was 42 in 1995, and his strong, angular features and chiseled physique indicated a high-testosterone level. These testosterone signals are sexy to other people because it shows his genes can handle the immunosuppressive effects of all that rugged, masculine testosterone. They also signal physical strength and dominance, which scares other men away from making a move on one of his many, many Bond ladies.
This scene brought to you by the power of testosterone
He was People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2001, so I guess he was still in peak attractiveness by that point, at age 48.
2002 – 2008: Romantic Comedies and Dramas – Personality Shines Through
Brosnan followed up his Bond years with a bunch of movies (Laws of Attraction, The Matador, Married Life, Mamma Mia!) that relied much more on Pierce Brosnan being suave and rakish and less on Pierce Brosnan breaking people’s necks. He was now in his early-to-mid 50s, and even though his wasn’t in his physical prime, the internet tells me he was still widely considered sexy.
Still sexy, despite the fact his own Wikipedia pages says his singing sounds like “the sound of a water buffalo, a donkey, and a wounded raccoon.”
In this period, Brosnan’s sexiness was attributable to his personal charm. Men’s attractiveness is partly based on personality. Loving, caring personality traits are literally sexy in men, as is the quality of being a good father. Theoretically, this is because guys who have these qualities are better romantic partners, and less likely to get a woman pregnant and then run off to leave her raising a child alone. Mamma Mia! era Brosnan exhibited this sort of gentle lovingness in his movies, which is why they chose him to end up with Meryl Streep, instead of Colin Firth.
He would’ve helped raise Sophie if you had told him about her, Donna
To drive that point home, Brosnan received some publicity for his charitable and environmental causes during this period, and even built a playground for poor school kids in Hawaii in 2007. What a charmer. If only he put that much effort into learning to sing.
I wasn’t kidding about that Wikipedia article
2009-2015: More Romantic Comedies – Money, Money, Money
By 2009, Pierce Brosnan was mostly showing up in rom-coms, and at age 60, was still considered sexy. During this time, he made I Don’t Know How She Does It, Love is All You Need, The Love Punch, and Some Kind of Beautiful in a 6 year span. His roles in all these movies have one thing in common – he’s a wealthy man. He’s a typical successful businessman or professor in every one. And, stereotypical or not, money makes a man more attractive. Humans evolved to find people who are good at “resource acquisition” attractive, as their “resources” (money, in modern times) could mean their partners live in luxury. Pierce Brosnan has a net worth of about $80 Million.
These two things are not a coincidence
Money isn’t the most important factor driving attractiveness, but it does help. Especially if you have $80 Million.
Pierce Brosnan is now 65 years old. People of any age can be attractive, and of course Pierce still has his charm and money, but his recent roles suggest he’s moved on from “attractive guy” roles to “wizened mentor” roles. He played a bearded old detective in Spinning Man, a bearded King Louis XIV in an upcoming movie called The King’s Daughter, and a bearded guy in this weird ad for chewing tobacco.
When you’ve got a white beard and advertise chewing tobacco, you’re no longer a sex symbol
And that’s okay. Attractiveness is theorized to help pass on genes, and at this stage of his life, Pierce Brosnan should not be passing on his genes anymore. He’s settled into his perma-beard lifestyle. He doesn’t have to be hot anymore.
And so, there it is. I get to tell my fiancée that Pierce Brosnan stopped being hot sometime around 2016.
I wonder how much of this I’ll get to tell her before she stops listening.