02 Nov Liam Nielson – True Internationl Actor
Liam John Neeson (born 7 June 1952) is an Irish actor, who is 6’ 3” tall. He has been nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. Empire magazine ranked Neeson among both the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” and “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time”. He is one of the highest grossing actors of all time.
In 1976, Neeson joined the Lyric Players’ Theatre in Belfast for two years. He then acted in the Arthurian film Excalibur (1981). Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson starred in five films, most notably alongside Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in The Bounty (1984), and Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in The Mission (1986). He landed a leading role alongside Patrick Swayze in Next of Kin (1989).
Neeson rose to prominence when he starred as Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List (1993). He has since starred in other successful films, including the drama Nell (1994), the historical biopic Michael Collins (1996), the 1998 film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the epic space opera Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), the biographical drama Kinsey (2004), the superhero film Batman Begins (2005), the action thriller series Taken (2008–2014), the survival film The Grey (2011), and the historical drama Silence (2016). He also provided the voices of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy (2005–2010) and the titular monster in A Monster Calls (2016). In 2020, he was listed at number 7 on The Irish Times list of Ireland’s greatest film actors.
Raised Roman Catholic, he was named Liam after the local priest. The third of four siblings, he has three sisters: Elizabeth, Bernadette, and Rosaleen. Neeson said growing up as a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant town. In a 2009 interview, Neeson said, “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.”
In 1980, filmmaker John Boorman saw him on stage as Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men and offered him the role of Sir Gawain in the Arthurian film Excalibur. After Excalibur, Neeson moved to London, where he continued working on stage, in small budget films and in television. He lived with the actress Helen Mirren at this time, whom he met working on Excalibur.
Director Steven Spielberg offered Neeson the role of Oskar Schindler in his film about the Holocaust, Schindler’s List, after seeing him in Anna Christie on Broadway and he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, and helped the film earn Best Picture of 1993. (The best actor award went to Tom Hanks for his performance in Philadelphia.) Soon after these accolades, Neeson became an in-demand leading actor. He starred in the subsequent period pieces Rob Roy (1995) and Michael Collins (1996), the latter earning him a win for Best Starring Role at the Venice Film Festival and another Golden Globe nomination.
In 1999, Neeson starred as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Director George Lucas cast Neeson in the role because he considered him a “master actor, who the other actors will look up to, who has got the qualities of strength that the character demands.”
In 2005, Neeson played Godfrey of Ibelin in Ridley Scott’s epic adventure Kingdom of Heaven; Ra’s al Ghul, one of the main villains in Batman Begins; and Father Bernard in Neil Jordan’s adaptation of Patrick McCabe’s novel Breakfast on Pluto. In The Simpsons episode “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star” (2005), he voiced the kindly priest who (briefly) converts Bart and Homer to Catholicism. That same year, he gave his voice to the lion Aslan in the blockbuster fantasy film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In 2007, he starred in the American Civil War epic Seraphim Falls.
Neeson has done considerable voice over work in a variety of films and video games, as well. In 2008, Neeson starred in the action film Taken, a French-produced film also starring Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace, based on a script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and directed by Pierre Morel. This film series put him back on top. In 2011, Neeson starred in the action-thriller Unknown, a German-British-American co-production of a French book filmed in Berlin in early 2010, and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. This film led to a collaboration between Neeson and Collet-Serra on a series of similar action films including Non-Stop (2014), Run All Night (2015) and The Commuter (2018).
Neeson is vocal on many high profile somewhat political topics, such as gun control and abortion. As Neeson feels led to comment, he does. He holds citizenship in Ireland, America and Britian.
Neeson lived with actress Helen Mirren during the early 1980s. They met while working on Excalibur (1981). Interviewed by James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson said Mirren was instrumental in his getting an agent.
Neeson met actress Natasha Richardson while performing in a revival of the play Anna Christie on Broadway in 1993. They were married on 3 July 1994 and had two sons together. In August 2004, they purchased an estate in Millbrook, New York. On 18 March 2009, Richardson died when she suffered a severe head injury in a skiing accident at the Mont Tremblant Resort, northwest of Montreal. Neeson donated her organs following her death. Neeson quit smoking in 2003 while working on Love Actually. His mother Kitty died in June 2020, but because of travel restrictions due to COVID-19, he was unable to travel to Ballymena for the funeral.
Honors and awards
In March 2011, he was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Neeson is a patron of Belfast-based charity and film festival CineMagic, which encourages and helps young people to get involved in the movie industry.
Neeson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in her 2000 New Year Honours. The American Ireland Fund honored Neeson with their Performing Arts Award for the great distinction he has brought to Ireland at their 2008 Dinner Gala in New York City. In 2009, at a ceremony in New York, Neeson was awarded an honorary doctorate by Queen’s University, Belfast. On April 9, 2016, he was honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) at the Mansion House, Dublin, with Irish President Michael D. Higgins presenting the award. In 2017, Neeson was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 74 in the list of 200 Most Influential Philanthropists and Social Entrepreneurs Worldwide. In January 2018, he was awarded the Distinguished Service for the Irish Abroad Award by Irish President Michael D. Higgins, who described it as an award “for Irish people abroad who are making a contribution to humanity”.
Net worth $145 million.