‘I Can’t Friggin’ Believe It!’ Liam Neeson Opens Up on His Remarkable Career, Losing His Wife and the Pastime That Brings Him Bliss

Recently turning 100, Liam Neeson. That’s movies rather than years. The 69-year-old Irish actor wrapped up his 100th movie in December. Regarding the achievement, he exclaims, “I can’t frickin’ believe it!” “I’ve done 100 movies, and for the first time in my life, I can say I’m really, really proud of it! Simply extraordinary.

He has played nearly every role imaginable over the course of a career spanning four decades, including a homeless veteran in Suspect, a groundbreaking sexologist in Kinsey, an Irish revolutionary in Michael Collins, a Star Wars Jedi in Luke Skywalker, a German industrialist in Schindler’s List, a troubled detective in A Walk Among the Tombstones, and a father searching the globe for his missing daughter (Taken). He joins the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliott Gould, James Caan, and James Garner as the newest Hollywood celebrity to play the renowned fictional detective Philip Marlowe in his next film, Marlowe, which is set to come out sometime next year.

Speaking to Parade from his home in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, where the sun is really shining, Neeson declares, “I believe in making hay while the light shines. He claims that the early spring-like day highlights the wonderful flowers in his yard. “My tiny daffodils are just now poking their heads above the surface. It’s wonderful.

Since his wife Natasha Richardson, a Tony Award-winning actress, passed suddenly 13 years ago, actor Liam Neeson has been looking for happiness wherever he can find it. One such place is the home he lives with his sons Micheál, 26, and Daniel, 25, where he enjoys taking in the flowering flowers.

He will be back on film this month in Martin Campbell’s action thriller Memory (out in theaters on April 29). He portrays Alex Lewis, an assassin who is battling early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and who becomes his own target when he declines to carry out a hazardous criminal organization’s job assignment. After watching the 2003 Belgian movie adaption based on a book, Neeson became interested in the project because “the story just totally gripped me,” he adds. While avoiding the FBI agent (Guy Pearce) in the heart of it all, Alex must locate the individuals who hired him before they locate him. This is despite his memory issues.

In order to include subtle symptoms of the condition, such as a stutter and overall vagueness, Neeson performed extensive research on Alzheimer’s and dementia for the role; when production began, he questioned his director about whether he was going too far. He instructed him, “Please tell me to take it back if you see anything that appears too much or too huge, or if I’m placing quotation marks around this disease too often.” He was particularly concerned with accurately portraying a character with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease because two of his friends back in Ireland also have the condition. Neeson remarks about the older brother of his character who also has late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, saying, “You see in the film what he’s going to end up like.” “Alex’s fate will be the same as that.”

Of fact, everyone occasionally experiences memory problems, including Neeson. He says, “I have to write things down, you know. He fights names now and then. When it comes to treasured recollections, however, “I can recall those quite vividly, especially things from when I was a youngster and things my mum or dad said.”


In the ten years prior to the start of the political war known as “The Troubles,” Neeson was reared as the third of four children in a Catholic working-class family in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. It was essentially a two-up two-down tiny terrace house, he claims. “I’m not going to say we lived in a shoebox,” he continues. However, despite the fact that both of my parents were employed, money was never easy to come by. While Neeson’s mother Katherine (“Kitty”) spent more than 30 years “helping serve out the meals for the youngsters at lunchtime, ceaselessly washing dishes” at the school, his father Bernard worked as an elementary school caretaker.

Neeson was raised with a strong work ethic by his parents. Beginning at age 15, he adds, “I was either working on building sites or at a bottling factory” during the summer and school breaks. The notion of using free time “to lounge around? Bollocks to that. He also helped out on his uncle’s farm by feeding the cows and pigs, and he later reflected that, despite how laborious it all seemed at the time, it had been a “wonderful period.” He still found time to do what he loved despite cutting hay that appeared to go on for kilometers.

Neeson, an amateur boxer from the age of 9 to 17, also watched as many matinee movies as he could, soaking up Westerns by Audie Murphy and comedies by Laurel & Hardy and the Three Stooges. He began acting in school productions at the age of 11, despite his aversion to being the center of attention. “I’ve always been timid, and I still am, but I loved being on stage because it made me feel like God, people are looking at me and listening to me. That really buzzed me. Yes, he is aware that it is rather paradoxical—the quiet boy who embraced the spotlight. He’s still a little reserved nowadays, or at the very least avoids bragging. He laughs, “I don’t go around saying to someone, ‘I’m an Irish living legend.'”

He was smitten with performance, but he also attended Queen’s University in Belfast to study physics and math. He applied to acting schools but was unable to pay for them, so he chose to pursue teacher training instead. He then started working as a reprographic assistant, making copies in an architect’s office. But at the age of 24, he made a crucial call that altered the course of his life.

As chance would have it, the renowned playwright Mary O’Malley answered the phone when he called Belfast’s Lyric Theatre looking for a potential job. She inquired about his height (6-foot-4), and then scheduled an audition for him the next week. Despite not being particularly talented, Neeson received his first acting contract: “I don’t believe I was that good, but I guess she sensed some type of enthusiasm or something.” His feet never touched the ground as he made his way to the railway station to return home, he recalls. “At that time in Belfast, there were army checkpoints all over, and I was shaking hands with soldiers!”

After switching from theatre to film, Neeson finally met and lived with Helen Mirren, an actress, in the early 1980s. He kept up his steady career, and they shared a home in London for four years. After a number of movies and plays, he finally had his big break in 1993 when he played in Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. He also received a Tony nomination for his performance in the Broadway play Anna Christie. He also met Richardson, his future wife, in that year.

For the following 15 years, Neeson also appeared in Rob Roy, Love Actually, Batman Begins, and other films. After then, his career entered a new chapter.

Source: parade.com


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