Born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, Liam Neeson worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St Mary's Teaching College, Newcastle upon Tyne. However, in 1976, Neeson joined the Belfast Lyric Players' Theater and made his professional acting debut in the play "The Risen People". After two years, Neeson moved to Dublin's Abbey Theater where he performed the classics. It was here that he was spotted by director John Boorman and was cast in the film Excalibur (1981) as Sir Gawain, his first high-profile film role.
Throughout the 1980s Neeson appeared in a handful of films and UK TV series - including The Bounty (1984), "A Woman of Substance" (1984), The Mission (1986), and Duet for One (1986) - but it wasn't until he moved to Hollywood to pursue larger roles that he began to get noticed. His turn as a mute homeless man in Suspect (1987) garnered good reviews, as did supporting parts in The Good Mother (1988) and High Spirits (1988) - though he also starred in the best-to-be-forgotten Satisfaction (1988), which also featured a then-unknown Julia Roberts - but leading man status eluded him until the cult favorite Darkman (1990), directed by Sam Raimi. From there Neeson starred in Under Suspicion (1991) and Ethan Frome (1993), was hailed for his performance in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives (1992), and ultimately was picked by Steven Spielberg to play Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List (1993). The starring role in the Oscar-winning Holocaust film brought Neeson Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor.
Also in 1993, he made his Broadway debut with a Tony-nominated performance in "Anna Christie", in which he co-starred with his future wife Natasha Richardson. The next year, the two also starred opposite Jodie Foster in the movie Nell (1994), and were married in July of that year. Leading roles as the 18th century Scottish Highlander Rob Roy (1995) and the Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins (1996) followed, and soon Neeson was solidified as one of Hollywood's top leading men. He starred in the highly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) as Qui-Gon Jinn, received a Golden Globe nomination for Kinsey (2004), played the mysterious Ducard in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005), and provided the voice for Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).
Neeson found a second surprise career as an action leading man with the release of Taken (2008/I) in early 2009, an unexpected box office hit about a retired CIA agent attempting to rescue his daughter from being sold into prostitution. Less than two months after the release of the film, however, tragedy struck when Richardson suffered a fatal head injury while skiing and passed away days afterward. Neeson returned to high-profile roles in 2010 with two back-to-back big-budget films, Clash of the Titans (2010) and The A-Team (2010), and returned to the action genre with Unknown (2011), The Grey (2011), Battleship (2012), and Taken 2 (2012), as well as the sequel Wrath of the Titans (2012).
Neeson was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1999 Queen's New Year's Honours List for his accomplishments in film and television. He has two sons from his marriage to Richardson.
|Natasha Richardson||(3 July 1994 - 18 March 2009) (her death) 2 children|
In his career's recent years, Neeson has very often taken roles in which he is a mentor/trainer/father figure to a younger man, as in, for example: Batman Begins (2005), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Gangs of New York (2002) and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). His character often must die early in the movie and/or the student's life so that the young man can apply the Neeson character's lessons to his own ongoing struggle.
Frequently portrays characters based on real people. (e.g. Rob Roy, Oskar Schindler, Michael Collins, Alfred Kinsey)
Towering height and slender frame
Deep gravelly voice
Northern Irish accent
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#74). 
He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of British Empire) in the 2000 Queen's Millennium Honours List for his services to drama.
Children, with Natasha Richardson: Micheal Richard Antonio Neeson (born on June 22, 1995) and Daniel Jack Neeson (born on August 27, 1996).
Loves fly fishing.
Was a boxer as a teenager in Northern Ireland, which resulted in getting his nose broken at the age of 15. Nevertheless, he went on to win the Irish Youth Championship. However, a brief blackout after one of his fights caused him to give up the ring for good.
Won a libel case against newspapers who claimed that his marriage was in trouble. [October 1998]
Ranked #69 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Was considered for the role of James Bond in GoldenEye (1995).
Attended Queen's University of Belfast for a short while to study physics and computer science, but flunked out.
Nominated for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a play for role in "The Crucible" in May 2002.
Was connected to David Lean's production of "Nostromo", but he withdrew before pre-production began and Lean's subsequent death.
He was considered for the role of Van Helsing in Dracula (1992) (and reportedly he very much wanted the role), however, he was turned down when Anthony Hopkins showed an interest in the role and ultimately got it.
Brother-in-law of Joely Richardson.
Has worked together repeatedly with Laura Linney, including in Kinsey (2004), Love Actually (2003), and in a Broadway revival of "The Crucible", having played husband and wife in Kinsey (2004) and "The Crucible". The two have joked about feeling like "an old married couple".
Wanted to be in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) so badly, he didn't even bother reading the script.
Graduated from the Gaiety School of Drama in Dublin, Ireland.
A member of the Dublin Shakespeare Theatre Festival where his past credits include "Hamlet", "King Richard II" and "All's Well That Ends Well".
He recalled his most embarrassing moment in acting as, relatively early in his career, he auditioned for the role of Fezzik, the giant, in The Princess Bride (1987). Director Rob Reiner had a look of disgust on his face when he realized that Neeson was "only" six-feet-four and André the Giant ended up getting the role.
Was chosen for the role of Gawain in Excalibur (1981) primarily because director John Boorman wanted a large man in the role for the duel between Gawain and Lancelot (Nicholas Clay). It was on this film where he met Helen Mirren, who was playing Morgana.
Auditioned for, and was accepted by, the Bristol Old Vic Drama School in England, but decided to attend the Gaiety School of acting instead so he could stay active with the Dublin Shakespeare Festival while in school.
Is an honorary board member of the CDS (Conference of Drama Schools) in England, which also includes Sir Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Jeremy Irons (to name a few). The board oversees all drama schools in England.
Was very active with the Royal National Theatre in London during the 1990s where he performed a wide range of Shakespeare's works.
It was his role in Shining Through (1992) as a high Nazi party official that got him noticed by Steven Spielberg, and that eventually led to him being cast as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List (1993).
Schindler's List (1993) is ranked #3 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
Was considered for the part of Dracula in the cult classic The Monster Squad (1987).
In an interview with the BBC, he said that Northern Irish Protestant minister Ian Paisley influenced his decision to become an actor. He use to sneak into the church in his hometown Ballymena and watch Mr. Paisley preach. "He had a magnificent presence and it was incredible to watch this six foot-plus man just Bible-thumping away. It was acting but it was also great acting and stirring too.".
On 16 March 2009, his wife Natasha Richardson suffered a brain injury in a skiing accident. On 18 March 2009, she died in hospital. Liam interrupted filming of his movie Chloe (2009) in order to be by her side in the hospital.
Received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Queen's University of Belfast, at the British consulate on May 6, 2009 in New York.
Appeared with Daniel Day-Lewis in The Bounty (1984) and Gangs of New York (2002). He later appeared on stage as John Proctor in a 2002 production of "The Crucible," a role played by Day-Lewis in the 1996 film. After dropping out of Steven Spielberg biography of Abraham Lincoln, he was subsequently replaced by Day-Lewis.
Regarding some rumors saying that he "felt like a puppet while working on Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)", Neeson said "That's simply not true" and that he had "absolutely no misgivings" about being in "Star Wars", adding that Lucas was was "very good" to work with. "He was clear about what he wanted", said Neeson.
Suffers from acrophobia ("I get dizzy on a thick carpet" he once quipped to Jay Leno).
Neeson is a National Goodwill Ambassador to Ireland.
Is a fan of Boxing and said that Muhammad Ali was the most famous boxer he ever met. Was an amateur boxer which he started at the age of 9 and had his last fight at the age of 17 years old.
I never did think of myself as handsome--terribly attractive, yes, but not handsome.
I think I realized there were two communities in Northern Ireland when I was about nine or 10, not because there was any trouble but because in certain years my parents would keep us indoors on the 12th of July. I couldn't figure that out, because all my mates were out dancing in the streets and I wanted to go out and join them. So it was then that I sensed a "them and us" attitude.
No, I don't get obsessed with acting. Because in the past when I have got obsessed about it, it really got in the way of the creative process. I've learned to hang the character on the coat-peg at the end of the day, and when I leave in the morning I pick it up again. And I had to work at that because the other way lies a strange sort of madness.
Laid-back? My wife said that? Well, I guess I am. It takes a lot to get me riled.
[on the widespread unemployment of actors and their fear of it] The truth is I love the insecurity part of it, it keeps me on my toes. I think you become bland and predictable without the stress and angst. There's a certain lethargy that sets in.
Before Schindler's List (1993), I wouldn't have believed movies had a lot of power for social change. But having seen what happened with "Schindler's List", and touring the world with it, it really made me realize the power of images.
Some mornings you wake up and think, "Gee, I look handsome today." Other days I think, "What am I doing in the movies? I wanna go back to Ireland and drive a forklift".
Acting is invigorating. But I don't analyze it too much. It's like a dog smelling where it's going to do its toilet in the morning.
In Los Angeles, it's like they jog for two hours a day and then they think they're morally right. That's when you want to choke people, you know?
I grew up in Northern Ireland, of course. Lived all through the Troubles; saw violence, the results of violence, at first hand. It's always terrified me and fascinated me. So it was a gut reaction, something about how that rage can eat you alive. I can understand that. I haven't known it myself, but I knew guys who did. Some of them aren't on this planet any more because of it.
(on the state of his family after the death of Natasha Richardson) We're doing good. To be honest, we're taking each day as it comes.
[on performing with Ralph Fiennes] On Clash of the Titans (2010) we found it hard to act with each other. So I would look at his forehead and he would look at my forehead, because sometimes, if we made eye contact, it got quite silly. We were more restrained on Wrath of the Titans (2012) because we had deeper, darker issues to act.
Even with action films, the fundamental for me is the writing. I adore writers, no matter what the genre is, and if it is a well-written piece of material then I am always very interested.
Just look at the success of Taken (2008/I), for example. I thought it was going to be a straight-to-video release. That is actually one of the reasons I did it, to be honest. I felt like spending three months in Paris, I'd get to do all this physical stuff that no one would think of me for, and that the film would go straight to video. Then it became this big success. I was a tiny bit embarrassed by it, a tiny bit, but then people started sending me action scripts.
[on Darkman (1990)] [The film] has rabid fans, especially in the black community, I've found. It's always the black dudes who are stopping me and giving me a high five. I saw Spider-Man (2002), and a lot of it was shot-for-shot Darkman.
[on Schindler's List (1993)] I did a lot of research, but I found it was best not to do too much because I was playing a guy who lived in 1942, '43. If I'd read all the Holocaust literature, it would have played into my performance. Ignorance was bliss, certainly for Schindler.
[on Nell (1994)] I was a bit disappointed in the film. I felt it should have been rougher and cruder and darker and colder. There was too much of a glow surrounding the movie. I thought Jodie [Foster] was very good, but, I mean, that house she lived in, that was, like, something out of Swiss Family Robinson! There should have been plastic chairs and windows with bits of newspaper stuck in them to stop the draft.
[on working with Julia Roberts in Michael Collins (1996)] I was surprised at first [when she was cast]. I thought, surely there's an actress in Ireland who can [play the role]; Neil [Jordan] doesn't need this star power. I thought maybe he was going to shoot himself in the foot. But she was very committed to doing it. I thought she was terribly good and I was very proud of her.
[on Gangs of New York (2002)] Martin [Scorsese] was interested in me for the part of Monk, that Brendan Gleeson played. But when I read it, I said, 'No, I want to play this Priest Vallon character. It's a showier part.' It was the perfect cameo, I think. You come in, do a bit of physical stuff, and then they talk about you for the rest of the movie. Meanwhile, I'm back home with my wife and kids, and they're still talking about me. It's great!
(April 2002) Starring on Broadway in "The Crucible"
(February 2004) Filming Kingdom of Heaven (2005) in Spain.
(June 2008) New York City, New York
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