Liam Neeson Bio: In His Own Words – Video Exclusive, News, Photos
Liam John Neeson (born June 7, 1952; age: 65) is an Irish-born actor. He is best known for his leading role in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning film Schindler’s List (1993).
Among Neeson’s other famous films are Michael Collins (1996), Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999), Batman Begins (2005) and the Taken action thriller trilogy (2008-2015).
LIAM NEESON BIO: EARLY LIFE
Neeson was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, to mother Katherine “Kitty” and Bernard “Barney” Neeson. He grew up Roman Catholic, and was named after the local priest.
Neeson has three sisters: Elizabeth, Bernadette, and Rosaleen. He said being raised Catholic in a predominantly Protestant led him to become a very cautious person, and that he event felt like a “second-class citizen” of the town.
In a 2009 interview, Neeson said of the Troubles conflict, that included the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry, Northern Ireland: “I never stop thinking about it [the Troubles]. I’ve known guys and girls who have been perpetrators of violence and victims. Protestants and Catholics. It’s part of my DNA.”
When he was 9, Neeson started taking boxing lessons and eventually became an amateur senior boxing champion.
Neeson first starred in a school play at the age of 11 but his real interest in acting was inspired by Ian Paisley, a politician who was the founder of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Neeson would sneak into Paisley’s Presbyterian church.
In 1971, Neeson started a degree in computer science and physics at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, although he eventually left to work at the Guinness Brewery.
LIAM NEESON BIO: EARLY CAREER
Neeson played several small roles on the stage in the 1970s and 1980s. After director John Boorman saw him portray Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men in 1980, Boorman offered Neeson the role of Sir Gawain in the film Excalibur, which was released a year later.
After starring in Excalibur, Neeson moved to London and continued working on stage and in low-budget films and in television series. During this time, he began dating and lived with Helen Mirren, whom he met while filming Excalibur.
Neeson went on to star alongside Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson in 1984’s The Bounty and with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in The Mission (1986).
In 1986, he also starred opposite Cher and Dennis Quaid in the courtroom drama/mystery film Suspect, and received strong reviews for his performance in the movie.
In 1990, Neeson played the lead role in Sam Raimi’s superhero film Darkman. Three years later, he starred alongside his future wife Natasha Richardson in the Broadway play Anna Christie. The pair collaborated again on the 1994 drama film Nell, which also starred Jodie Foster.
LIAM NEESON BIO: SCHINDLER’S LIST AND RISE TO FAME
Neeson starred in one of his most acclaimed roles to date as Nazi factory employer Oskar Schindler in Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust film Schinder’s List. For his performance, Neeson was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, among other accolades. The film won several Oscars, including Best Picture.
After this, Neeson starred in the 1996 historical drama Michael Collins, in which he played the eponymous Irish patriot and revolutionary who died in the Irish Civil War of the 1920s.
He also played Jean Valjean in the 1998 film version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, which also starred Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes.
Neeson’s first major blockbuster role was as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace. George Lucas chose Neeson for that part because he considered the actor to have great skills and presence, and called him a “master actor, who the other actors will look up to, who has got the qualities of strength that the character demands.”
Although Star Wars: Episode I received mixed reviews, it was one of the biggest box office successes of the sci-fi franchise.
Neeson’s next major film appearance was in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 period drama Gangs of New York as the father of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s character. He then starred in the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually as a widowed writer who is the father to a young son.
Neeson then earned much acclaim for his role as American biologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey in the 2004 biopic Kinsey, which also starred Laura Linney, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton and John Lithgow. Neeson was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama for his performance.
In 2004, Neeson hosted an episode of the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live.
In 2005, he played Ra’s al Ghul, one of the villains in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Also in 2005, he voiced Aslan the Lion in the fantasy film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He reprised that role in the following two Chronicles of Narnia films: Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010).
Neeson was also nominated for a Tony Award for his role as John Proctor opposite Linney in the 2002 Broadway revival of The Crucible.
Neeson then played Alistair Little in the BBC Northern Ireland/Big Fish Films television drama Five Minutes of Heaven, which is based on true story of a young Protestant who is charged with killing a Catholic boy during the time of The Troubles.
LIAM NEESON BIO: TAKEN FILMS AND LATER SUCCESS
Neeson starred in the action thriller film Taken in 2008, the first of many action flicks he has starred in during the last few years. The French-produced film, directed by Pierre Morel and written by Luc Besson, is about a retired CIA agent who is forced to use his skills again when his teenage daughter is kidnapped in Paris by Albanian mobsters and sold as a sex slave.
Taken was a worldwide box office hit, and earned significantly more than its production budget. Neeson also voiced a character in the English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki’s 2009 anime film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.
In 2010, Neeson played Greek god Zeus in the remake of the classic 1981 film Clash of the Titans. That same year, he starred in two more films: the erotic thriller Chloe, which also starred Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore, and The A-Team, a spin-off of the 1980s television series of the same name.
In 2011, Neeson starred in the German-American thriller Unknown about an American man whose identity is stolen from him in Berlin. The film was compared to Taken.
Neeson was set to re-team with Spielberg for the 2012 historical drama Lincoln, but Neeson eventually turned down the role of Abraham Lincoln, saying he felt he was too old to play the American President. Daniel Day-Lewis went on to play Lincoln.
In 2012, Neeson starred in several films. He played the lead role in the survival thriller The Grey, reprised his role as Zeus in Wrath of the Titans, and also starred in the sci-fi action film Battleship, based on the board game of the same name.
Neeson then reprised his role as Bryan Mills in Taken 2, also in 2012.
In 2013, Neeson starred in the romantic drama Third Person with Olivia Wilde, James Franco and Mila Kunis.
Neeson then went on to star in several more action films in the next two years: Non-Stop and A Walk Among The Tombstones in 2014, and Taken 3 and Run All Night in 2015. Neeson reunited with Unknown’s Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra for Non-Stop and Run All Night.
Among the recent non-action films Neeson has starred in are the animated films Khumba (a South African movie), The Nut Job (both 2013), The LEGO Movie and The Prophet (both 2014).
Neeson also played the villain in Seth MacFarlane’s 2014 western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. In 2016, he voiced the titular Monster in the Spanish-produced movie A Monster Calls, and also played a priest alongside Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver in Scorsese’s historical drama Silence that year.
Neeson also had cameos in two 2015 films: as himself in the Entourage movie and in Ted 2 as a supermarket customer.
In 2017, Neeson starred in the biographical drama Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. Neeson played the titular Mark Felt, the FBI agent who became know as “Deep Throat” and helped expose Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal.
In September 2017, around the time of the release of Mark Felt, Neeson announced that he is retiring from action films, citing his “too old” age of 65.
Neeson’s last two action films are set to be released in 2018: the thriller The Commuter, which is directed by Collet-Serra and set for release in January, and Hard Powder, another thriller that is a remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance.
Neeson is also set to star in the 2018 heist film Widows.
LIAM NEESON VIDEO INTERVIEW: TAKEN
In February 2009, Neeson sat down with uInterview for an exclusive interview about the first Taken film. He took questions from fans about the making of the movie.
“There were a couple of men I met, yes, before we started shooting who had done some shady stuff for governments in their past,” Neeson said about government agents he had met with before shooting the film to prepare for his role as an ex-CIA operative. “A couple of the stories they told me would literally make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
Neeson also revealed that he did all his fight scenes, but not all the stunts.
“I did want to do all the fights myself, which I did,” he said. “The stunts — I left that to my stunt double, Mark Vanselow. I was thrilled to do it! It’s something I don’t often get the chance to do.”
LIAM NEESON: MARRIAGE TO NATASHA RICHARDSON, HEIGHT, WEIGHT, SOCIAL MEDIA, QUOTES
Neeson is 6-foot-4 and weighs approximately 211 pounds. His Instagram handle is @liam_john_neeson. He does not have a verified Twitter handle.
Neeson met his wife Richardson while acting in a revival of the Broadway play Anna Christie in 1993. They were married in July 1994.
On March 18, 2009, Richardson died after sustaining a severe head injury in a skiing accident at the Mont Tremblant Resort near Montreal, Canada.
She and Neeson had two sons together, Micheál Richard Antonio (born June 22, 1995, in Dublin) and Daniel Jack (born August 27, 1996, in New York City).
Neeson was a heavy smoker early in his acting career, although he reportedly quit in 2003 while working on Love Actually. He revealed in August 2009 that he had become a naturalized American citizen, and cited the outpouring of support from friends in the U.S. after the death of his wife as one of the reasons for his decision to take dual citizenship.
Since March 2011, Neeson has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and has traveled to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan to meet with young children as part of his humanitarian efforts with the organization.
He is also an ambassador of Belfast-based charity and film festival CineMagic, which promotes the participation of youth in the film industry.
In 2012, Neeson’s publicist refuted reports that claimed Neeson was considering converting to Islam. In fact, the actor remains Catholic but admitted he grew fond of the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer he often heard while shooting Taken 2 in Istanbul.
“By the third week, it was like I couldn’t live without it,” said Neeson of the prayer. “It really became hypnotic and very moving for me in a very special way. Very beautiful.”
Neeson also said he was very interested in learning about the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
After the shootings at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, Neeson called U.S. gun laws a “disgrace” in an interview.
Neeson also narrated a video clip for Amnesty International in 2015 in support of legalizing abortion in Ireland.
Neeson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.
“Kinsey’s quest was really for us all to be tolerant and accepting of each other.”
“I love doing my own stunts but it’s hard.”
On the actor who played his son in Love Actually: “I love working with children and this young boy, Thomas Sangster, is quite a remarkable young actor. He raises your game, you know. He certainly raised mine.”
“I’m still a proud Irishman, of course, but I’ve become an American citizen. I’m very, very proud of that.”
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