Peter York On Ads: He may not be interesting, but Pierce sells us face gunk because he's worth it

Click to follow
The Independent Online

We all secretly like the idea of the completely unutterable wonderfulness of wonderful people, although Brits don't believe it for a minute. Not only staggeringly beautiful, stonkingly rich and famous but also caring, thoughtful, giving and accomplished. Brad and Angelina having so much spare love to give. George Clooney is practically an Alternative Democratic President. In the studio-system years, film stars' biographies were scripted for them – invented, like their names, by company publicists. Now stars are independent brands with their own managers and publicists. They've got a lot more say in their stories and they've really revved up the rhetoric. A bit deep. And a little bit political, as Ben Elton used to say. And an awful lot of Global Caring.

Younger British actors are mostly terrible in print. They've usually got that desperate wish to dull down, born of doing something they feel is silly and unmanning – pretending to be other people under direction from real Alpha males. So they're always on about their essential Lad Lite off-screen lives, their scruffiness (they're always interviewed in jeans), their indefatigable matey provincialness and their football loyalties. It's never worth reading a male actor's profile, and only occasionally a female one's.

Which brings us to Pierce Brosnan. Is Pierce Brosnan interesting? Very black-Irish – regular handsome for sure. Sad life, with particular appeal for caring lady viewers, certainly. Filled a gap as James Bond respectably enough. But interesting? Women don't find him remotely sexy – like Craig or Connery – and he doesn't feature in most men's inner lives. Except in one sense: he's 55 and those looks have held up terribly well, so there's an unacknowledged wry jealousy that can't easily speak its name from balding beer-belly Dad contemporaries. In research, that means he's probably the ideal spokesperson for L'Oréal Men Expert Skincare. Middle-aged, unexciting, unambiguous. L'Oréal's new commercial introduces Brosnan as a roundly wonderful actor, sportsman and environmental campaigner who knows there's more to life than making films. Like riding across a beach in an absurdly 1965-ish shot, finding time for himself and, of course, keeping up with skincare developments. Vita-life is added-value double-lifting moisturiser gunk.

This is formulaic, American-global advertising and its corny old tropes look far sillier on a man. Particularly to a British audience.