We live in a dark time—dangers are plenty, evil is epidemic. But keeping these treacheries at bay is a colossal force of good. A dominating falcon of purity, might and wonder. And a pretty good actor, too. Of course I am referring to the masterful Liam Neeson—an actor who has delivered fantasy, historical drama, and action-packed excitement with a charm and fervor unparalleled in contemporary cinema.
This Friday, Neeson will reaffirm his apex of indomitability via a subarctic faceoff with a ravenous wolf pack in The Grey. And though perhaps there is nothing more quintessentially Neeson than a plot like this, the actor’s life and career have taken him through a variety of characters and worlds, dating back to his pre-performing days in Ireland.
Neeson’s career prior to acting is famously colorful. The young man supported himself as a forklift operator, a truck driver, and, most interestingly, a boxer. Neeson has stated publicly that he recalls giving up professional fighting shortly after undertaking a match with a broken nose, which caused him to black out.
Although he had been experienced with stage acting from an early age, Neeson’s first film role came at age twenty-nine, in 1981. Neeson played Sir Gaiwan in John Boorman’s Excalibur, a film that starred Helen Mirren and Nigel Terry.
Six years later, Neeson earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of a deaf and mute Vietnam veteran in Suspect, opposite Cher and Dennis Quaid. But the actor’s name really came to the public’s attention after the 1990 action/sci-fi, Darkman. Neeson played a mentally unstable scientist who adopted the masked vigilante persona of “Darkman” after suffering grotesque disfigurement at the hands of a group of criminals.
Through the ‘90s, Neeson’s career flourished. He and his wife Natasha Richardson starred alongside Jodie Foster in Nell. But the role to which Neeson truly owes his years of celebration is Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Since 1994, there has, arguably, not been a single movie that has lived up to the terrific power that Schindler’s List embodied—this is due to the heavy subject matter and the artistic vision of director Spielberg, but also in no small part to the magnificent performance of Neeson as the hero to the Jewish people that was Oskar Schindler.
After this, Neeson found praise for roles like the title character in the period piece Michael Collins, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. Three years later, Neeson lived out every young boy’s dream by engaging in battle alongside Obi Wan Kenobi as the sage Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The turn of the century rewarded Neeson with a slew of intriguing roles. The biopic film Kinsey proved that the actor who has come to be synonymous with bravado and might could also play intellectual, introspective and progressive characters.
Again, Neeson signed on for a dream role of children anywhere: playing the first major villain in Christopher Nolan’s magnificent reimagining of the Batman universe: Ra’s a Ghul (passing himself off as a role model to the Dark Knight until his malevolent intentions are eventually discovered) in 2005’s Batman Begins.
Finally, we recall with enthusiasm the exciting action thriller Taken, in which Neeson had a grand old time touring Europe on a quest to rescue his daughter from a dastardly kidnapping ring. Whereas another performer might have carried this role as your run-of-the-mill action hero, Neeson’s special flair made Taken one of the most fun and adventurous pictures of 2008.
And now, we await The Grey, which promises both the wily adventure and introspective nature of which Neeson has proven himself an expert. Beyond this, we can predict more fun, more excitement, more drama, more history…there is nothing that can stop Liam Neeson. Not Sith Lords. Not the sexually conservative. Not wolves. Nothing.
Well, I guess Batman kind of did…but that doesn’t count.
What is your favorite Liam Neeson movie? Tell us your thoughts below!
We've witnessed Liam Neeson in just about every role imaginable. He's been a Jedi Knight, the world's most famous sexologist, and the hero who saved hundres of people from Nazi persecution. But there's one role I don't think many of us recall or even know about: the sexy IRA hitman on Miami Vice. Neeson stopped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and shared his big break on the 80s series, plus he played Taken 2 charades with Jimmy.
If video below does not play, watch the interview here.
While most have us have been atwitter about Elizabeth Banks' upcoming role as Effie in The Hunger Games or about her character's fate on 30 Rock now that King Jong Il has passed, but she's actually got other stuff going on, people. She stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman to plug her new movie, Man on a Ledge and if you're not convinced that you should give the movie your time, she's prepared to guilt us all by regaling us with the details of their shoot atop The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City during which she was armed with nothing more than extremely thin wires and bolts, which are very susceptible to human error and stupidity. Luckily, it seems she's lived to tell the story.
Finally, we have Stephen Merchant who created HBO's Life is Short along with Ricky Gervais. He stopped by Conan and before showing us that wonderful clip of Liam Neeson trying to be a comedian on the new HBO series, he took a moment to show us what it would look like if the lovely Kate Becknisale wore his huge, size 15 shoes.
Last night, Liam Neeson appeared on The Tonight Show and discussed his poor parenting in the upcoming Taken 2 and his career as a young boxer. Plus, he declared himself the biggest awards show drunk in Hollywood.
On The Late Show, David Letterman revealed the newest installment of one of his favorite segments: "Tom Hanks Tells Buddy Hackett Jokes." Tom Hanks flailing about the stage with an anyone-from-the-1940s accent makes up for the actual joke.
Woody Harrelson showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and discussed how his name slowed down his acting career, and tried to conjur some hazy memories from his recent trip to Amsterdam after shooting Rampart.
Finally, Rosie O'Donnell appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and told a story about getting personally invited to—and then harshly rejected from—P. Diddy's Christmas party.
Yahoo! Movies today debuted a brand-new trailer for Joe Carnahan's (The A-Team) upcoming thriller The Grey, starring Liam Neeson as an oilman who survives a plane crash in Alaska, only to find himself hunted by a pack of ferocious wolves:
Those poor wolves don't stand a chance. The Grey also stars Dermot Mulroney and James Badge Dale. It opens January 27, 2012.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
Liam Neeson represents the rare instance of an actor growing more badass with age. Click on the image below to peruse our Liam Neeson gallery:
When the trailer for The Hangover Part II came out, we did not see anything regarding Liam Neeson's cameo as the Bangkok tattoo artist (who we assumed was responsible for Ed Helms' incredible Mike Tyson tattoo). We accepted this though, because it wasn't like Todd Phillips was going to put the most exciting parts of the movie in the trailer -- especially since he knows we're going to see it anyway and it's not like he has to do anything fancy in order to get us to show up in the theaters. But it turns out that unfortunately, Liam Neeson's cameo in the movie was cut. Variety reported the reason for its removal, and it was because Phillips wanted to re-shoot the scene, but Neeson was not available. So the role was then handed off to Nick Cassavetes, who just gave Lindsay Lohan a job in his upcoming Gotti movie. But quite honestly, I think Phillips could have tried a little harder and taken a second jab at getting Clinton.
Aspiring Hollywood directors, listen up! Deadline reports that Taken 2 will begin filming with Liam Neeson in the spring of 2011, but there's a vital part of the production still missing: a director. So, you know, if you're in the mood to direct a mediocre-but-kind-of-exciting-at-times kidnap action thriller, send EuropaCorp your reel!
EuropaCorp is also toying with the idea of a Taken television series. Yeah, that's right. They want to take a movie that spent two hours painfully milking a kidnapping storyline we'd seen a million times before, subtract its only bearable part (Neeson), somehow stretch it out to a 12 or more episode arc, and put it on the tube. So yeah, this all makes perfect sense.
Now in semi-relevant-but-not-really news, EuropaCorp wants another television series based on a movie. The culprit this time? The Transporter -- the movie series that turned Jason Statham's typecast from a ballsy, badass driver to, well, a ballsy, badass driver. The 12-episode series is set to start shooting after the new year with a budget of $48 million and the studio hopes to air the first season in November 2011. And unless Statham somehow manages to majorly fuck up his entire career in the next three weeks, it's pretty unlikely that he'll star.