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​Pierce Brosnan re-ups for the spy genre

His name is Brosnan ... Pierce Brosnan. And he played secret agent James Bond in the 1997 movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" and three other films. A few days before this weekend's storm clouds gathered, our Lee Cowan traveled to Brosnan's island retreat -- for a Sunday Profile:

If you could pick a spot for a former James Bond to sit back and relax, you'd be hard-pressed to find a hideaway more perfect than Hawaii. A little surf, a little sand, perhaps a little martini -- shaken, not stirred, of course -- and if Pierce Brosnan is lucky, a little privacy, too.

When asked his favorite activity on the islands, Brosnan replied, "Just hang! Play golf, play tennis."

And how is his golf game? "Miserable. Tragic. Humiliating, but I love it."

Ever since his role as 007 made him a superstar, Brosnan has made Kauai his part-time home. It's the reward for a life lived as the world's most recognizable spy, and he's happy to share the beauty of it all -- he even let Cowan borrow his paddle board.

"It's a very elegant sport," Brosnan said. "I mean, you don't have to work that hard at it."

Pierce Brosnan (right) and correspondent Lee Cowan on the water at Kauai. CBS News

But while it may look like retirement, Brosnan is hardly resting on the laurels from his days in MI6.

"There's still a hunger, there's still a need and a desire to go out there and get better and to find that definitive role," he said, "where you do (click) I've nailed it. That's mine. All mine."

"And you don't think you've found that yet?" Cowan asked.

"Oh, you do, but you know, it doesn't last long on the taste buds. You want to do it again."

Pierce Brosnan in "The November Man." Relativity

And do it again, he has -- he's made seven films just in the last two years.

His latest, "The November Man," has him back in familiar territory playing a gracefully-aging agent -- lured back into the CIA for one final mission.

"This kind of gave us the opportunity to do what I wanted to do within the Bond movies," he said, "and certainly where I was going in the last Bond movie -- just to have a hard-nosed, badass character. Somebody who pulls no punches. Somebody where the blood is real."

"Did it take a little convincing to get back into the spy genre again?" Cowan asked.

"No, not a all," Brosnan replied. "It just seemed like a good idea to go into the espionage game again, to go back into that genre, that terrain."

And does he find it any easier, in his early 60s? "Oh God, no. The bones ache a little more."

Understandably so. For 10 years, over the course of four Bond films, Brosnan took all manner of punishment -- and dealt a few punishing blows, too. He admits he's a bit weary of talking about his life of theatrical espionage, but when the subject comes up it's hard to hide that unmistakable twinkle.

"It's all glorious, you know?" he laughed. "It's such a celebration. It's such a gift for any man ... It's such an iconic role, it's such a loved and cherished role.

"You can't please everyone, but you can certainly have a good time trying to do so."

Fans all have their favorite 007 -- it's a long and distinguished list of actors who've played him.

But they all have one thing in common: As hard as it is to fill James Bond's shoes, it may be even harder to leave them.

"Coming out the other end, you're going to have to be tough as ol' Boots to shake off the shackles of Bond, or redefine yourself as an actor. Try to."

Cowan said, "It's a bit of a deal with the devil, I guess, to play Bond."

"But a great one. It's a good deal if you get it right."

The silver screen's dapper Englishman is actually Irish. Brosnan was born into a Catholic household along the banks of the River Boyne. But his was a solitary childhood.

His father abandoned the family when Brosnan was only 2, making life nearly impossible for his mother in Ireland, who fled to London to find work.

"She wasn't going to take the nonsense of the Church, which shames you from the pulpit," Brosnan said, "and if you have a broken marriage, like she did, you know, they were very fast off the mark to stick it to you."

So Brosnan was raised by his grandparents -- and a few family friends -- until his mother finished nursing school, and finally sent for him. But in London as a young Irish country boy, Brosnan became the butt of jokes.

"You feel that bit of prejudice, being a Mick, being a Paddy. They couldn't say my name. They didn't want to say my name, Pierce. So I was known as Irish. Which I wore as an emblem," he said.

He admits to trying to disguise his accent: "You do, oh yeah. I mean, I certainly became South London. And everything was like 'Aw right, mate!' Yeah. So the Irish got buried. The culture of who I was, and the boy, got buried so I could assimilate, fit in."

His first love was drawing; he started out to be a graphic artist. To this day, he has a passion for painting. But it was acting he found himself. It was more than just an artistic outlet -- it was a necessity.

"Why'd you need it so much?" Cowan asked.

"Oh, that's a good question. I mean, from the childhood that I had, from being somewhat of an outsider. It made me happy."

The action/adventure path was set early. The first movie he ever saw in London was Sean Connery's James Bond in "Goldfinger." Coincidence, perhaps, but it left an impression.

When Brosnan got his first call for a movie, it was to play a scantily-clad assassin in "The Long Good Friday." "Show up Tuesday morning at the swimming baths, which I did, Speedo in hand, pick up a guy, and kill him!" he laughed.

He had a knack for intrigue -- and so did his wife, actress Cassandra Harris. They married in 1980, and a year later, she landed a part in -- what else? -- a Bond movie; she played Countess Lisl von Schlaf opposite Roger Moore in "For Your Eyes Only."

The couple would joke about his playing Bond some day -- but back then, a joke is all it was. Instead of a Secret Service agent, Brosnan first had to cut his teeth at a detective agency in the 1980s TV series, "Remington Steele." His leading-man looks and good humor would soon make Brosnan a bankable star.

Some roles fit like a glove -- take the art thief in "The Thomas Crown Affair."

But he was able to make fun of himself, too, as the stuffed-shirt opposite Robin Williams in "Mrs. Doubtfire."

He even broke into song in the musical, "Mamma Mia!"

"I would go around for weeks on end with my headphones in, singing 'S.O.S.' out there, to the waves," he said. "I'd be driving the kids to school singing 'S.O.S.'"

Cowan said, "I bet they loved that."

"Oh, they hated me!" he laughed. "They were all worried. They said, 'Dad, should you really be doing this?'"

There were, however, bumps in the road -- tragic ones that hit home hard. Brosnan's wife, Cassandra, succumbed to ovarian cancer at the age of only 43. He was forced to repeat the same nightmare years later when his stepdaughter, Charlotte, died of the very same disease. She was only 42.

Cowan said, "It does seem like you've had more than your fair share of heartbreak, and some very cruel similarities with your first wife."

"It's just life. It's just the way life goes, you know?" Brosnan said. "We all get dealt the suffering, at some time or another. It's just the tender beauty and heartache of life, you know?

"You have to really come out from underneath that mantle and find life again. And luckily, I did, in a great lady called Keely Shaye."

They've been married for 13 years now, and have two children of their own, who share their Garden Island sanctuary.

"This has become home ... and it would be hard to live without it," said Brosnan.

It all seems worlds away from his day job, where car chases and gun battles are waiting in exotic locales. For Pierce Brosnan, that makes for a pretty nice balance -- just like he has on his board.

"I still love to act, and I still love to pack my bags and go to far-flung places and make a movie," he said. "It's just, like, okay, this is great. This is beautiful. Idyllic. But, oh I gotta put the hat on and head out the door. You know? I get restless."

To watch the trailer for "The November Man," click on the video player below.

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