Actor of the Week: Liam Neeson
It’s been 6 weeks since we launched Actor of the Week and it’s been a hit, which leads me to this weeks new edition, Liam Neeson. Neeson is a brilliant actor who has played many diverse roles during his career, even if recently he has been slightly type-casted due to his incredible portrayal of Bryan Mills in Taken.
Liam Neeson, born in Northern Ireland, has been acting way before my time, starting his movie career off, back in 1981, in one of the many adaptations of the sword in the stone story, Excalibur, where he played Gawain. This was a very minor role in comparison to the roles he would take further down the line, such as starring in films alongside Patrick Swayze in Next of Kin as well as supporting Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in The Bounty, but the movie he really cemented himself in Hollywood was in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, where he played Oskar Schindler, a German who was apart of the Nazi’s but was responsible for saving the lives of 1200 Jews. Neeson was nominated for an Oscar for this role, with the film also winning Best Picture that year.
As Neeson’s career continued he starred in films like Rob Roy, which was actually the first film I saw Neeson in, and loved him straight away as well as acting alongside the legendary Meryl Streep in Before and After, until his career spiked again, where he was given a role in the Star Wars prequels as Qui-Gon Jin. Qui-Gon was a Jedi Master, responsible for finding and recruiting Anakin Skywalker AKA Darth Vader, as well as training Obi-Wan Kenobi to Jedi Knight status. Neeson was only in one of the three prequels, but his character will be remembered forever. I am a huge Star Wars fan, therefore Neeson playing such a crucial character in the saga resonates well for me, even if Qui-Gon was a bit stupid due to being somewhat responsible for Anakin's transformation to Darth Vader. This role as the Jedi Master only shows off how diverse Liam is as an actor.
I could go on forever talking about all the films Neeson has been apart of, such as Love Actually and K-19 but the one role that is huge for us here at Life of Films is his portrayal of Ducard aka Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins. The Dark Knight trilogy is the heart of Life of Films, therefore you can understand just how much love we have for Neeson’s villain. I think him and Nolan (Director) did brilliantly at revitalising the bad guy in a hero film, firstly by being Bruce Wayne’s mentor until Bruce saw him for who he really is, but secondly that it wasn’t his strength or fighting ability that drove him, it was his belief in standing for something more than personal gain, which in turn Batman learnt from but used to help save Gotham, where as Ra’s felt Gotham needed to be destroyed to save the rest of the world. It just gave the villain more wait, then just the standard, something bad has happened to him, therefore wants revenge on the world. Ra’s actually feels he is saving the world, but by doing it in a negative way. All very compelling stuff.
This leads me to the film that everyone would associate with Liam Neeson, and this is Taken. Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired and divorced CIA agent, just wanting to watch his daughter grow up, until she is kidnapped and is put en route to be a part of the human trafficking world therefore leaving Bryan no choice but to blow the dust off his CIA background and rescue his daughter before she is sold and lost forever. This is a brilliant film, showing a father with a “particular set of skills” stop at nothing to rescue the one good thing left in his life. This film has probably one of the most iconic scenes in recent film history as well, where Bryan tries to reason with one of the kidnappers. Check out the scene below...
Within this article I have only mentioned some of Neeson’s career highlights, but he has plenty more films out there, which just shows how good he really is, therefore being an obvious choice for our Actor of the Week segmant. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it, as Neeson is one of the best around, and as a film lover myself, I have an incredible amount of respect for him.