Neeson at the TIFF premiere of The Other Man, September 7, 2008
|Born||William John Neeson
7 June 1952
Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
(1994-2009) (her death)
He is well known for his roles as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List, Michael Collins in Michael Collins, Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Alfred Kinsey in Kinsey, Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia film series and will play John "Hannibal" Smith in the 2010 A-Team movie. He has also starred in several other blockbusters, including The Dead Pool, Darkman, Rob Roy, Kingdom of Heaven, Batman Begins, Taken and Love, Actually.
He was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, and educated there and at Queen's University Belfast. He moved to Dublin after university to further his acting career, joining the renowned Abbey Theatre. In the early 1990s, he moved again to America, where the wide acclaim for his performance in Schindler's List led to more high-profile work. He is widowed and lives in New York with his two sons.
Neeson was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the son of Katherine "Kitty" (née Brown), a cook, and Bernard "Barney" Neeson, a caretaker at the local Catholic boys primary school (Ballymena Boys All Saints Primary School). He was called Liam, Irish for William, after the local priest. He was the third child in the family and the only boy among four siblings; his sisters are Elizabeth, Bernadette and Rosaline. At age nine, Neeson began boxing lessons at the All Saints Youth Club, and later became Ulster amateur senior boxing champion. It was at age eleven that Neeson first stepped on stage. His English teacher gave him the lead role in a school play, which he accepted because the girl he was attracted to would be starring. From then on, he kept acting in school productions for the following years. His interest in acting and decision to become an actor was also influenced by Ian Paisley whose church Neeson would sneak into. Neeson has said of Paisley that "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."
While at University, Neeson`s abilities as a talented footballer emerged, which resulted in him being spotted by Bohemian F.C. manager Seán Thomas. Neeson travelled to Dublin for a trial with the club, and featured briefly when he came on as a substitute in a game against Shamrock Rovers, replacing Tony O`Connell. Neeson was not offered a contract at the club and that remained his only performance in professional football.
After leaving the university, Neeson returned to Ballymena and worked in a variety of small jobs, from fork-lift operator at Guinness to truck driver. He also worked at a teacher-training college in Newcastle for two years before again returning to his home-town. Neeson would get his first film experience in 1978, playing Jesus Christ and Evangelist in the religious film, Pilgrim's Progress directed by Ken Anderson. Following a bet from co-workers at the architects' office where he worked, Neeson successfully auditioned at the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast, appearing in successful adaptations of plays such as Brian Friel's Translations. After two years there, Neeson moved to Dublin in 1978 after he was offered a part in a production at the Project Arts Centre. The play was Ron Hutchinson's "Says I, Says He", a drama about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Neeson acted in several other Project productions and joined the Abbey Theatre in 1978. In 1980, film-maker John Boorman saw him on stage, acting as Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men, and offered him the part of Sir Gawain in the upcoming Arthurian movie, Excalibur. After Excalibur, Neeson moved to London, where he continued working on stage, small budget movies and TV series. He lived with the actress Helen Mirren at this time, whom he met working on Excalibur. Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson starred in five films; most notably alongside Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in 1984's The Bounty and Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in 1986's The Mission.
In 1987, Neeson made a conscious decision to move to Hollywood in order to star in high-profile roles. That year, he starred alongside Cher and Dennis Quaid in Suspect. The role brought Neeson critical applause, but it was 1990's Darkman that would bring his name to public attention. Although the film was successful, Neeson's following years would not give him the same recognition. In 1993, he joined Ellis Island co-star and future wife Natasha Richardson in the Broadway play Anna Christie. (They also worked together in Nell, released the following year.) Director Steven Spielberg, impressed by his performance, offered him the coveted role of Oskar Schindler in the film about the Holocaust, Schindler's List. His critically acclaimed performance later earned him a nomination for a Best Actor Oscar; however, the award went to Tom Hanks for his performance in Philadelphia. Neeson also garnered BAFTA and Golden Globes nominations for Schindler's List.
Schindler's List established Neeson as a widely sought after leading actor. He later starred in period pieces Rob Roy (1995) and Michael Collins (1996), the latter earning him another Golden Globe nomination and a win for Best Starring Role at the Venice Film Festival. Neeson went on to star as Jean Valjean in the 1998 adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables and in The Haunting (1999) as Dr. David Marrow.
In 1999, Neeson starred as Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, in director George Lucas' Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. As it was the first Star Wars film to be released in over sixteen years, it was surrounded by a large amount of anticipation from the media. Despite several critics' and fans' beliefs that the film failed to live up to expectations, The Phantom Menace was an enormous box-office success and remains the most financially successful Star Wars film unadjusted for inflation. Qui-Gon's voice, provided by Neeson, would later be heard during a brief scene in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002). Qui-Gon was supposed to make an appearance in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) as a Force Ghost, and Neeson had hinted at involvement. However, he was ultimately unable to appear due to a motorcycle injury, and his character is only mentioned in the film.
He recited the Van Morrison song "Coney Island" on the 1994 Van Morrison tribute album, No Prima Donna: The Songs of Van Morrison. A single was also released with Neeson's version.
Neeson narrated the 2001 documentaries Journey Into Amazing Caves and The Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure. After being nominated for a Tony Award for his role opposite Laura Linney in The Crucible, Neeson teamed up with Harrison Ford in Kathryn Bigelow's submarine thriller K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) as Captain Mikhail Polenin and appeared in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York (with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Gleeson, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis). He also played a recently widowed writer in Richard Curtis' ensemble comedy Love Actually (2003). His role as Alfred Kinsey in Kinsey again put Neeson up for nomination for a Golden Globe Award but he lost out to Leonardo DiCaprio for The Aviator. In 2004, Neeson hosted an episode of the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live. He starred as a redneck trucker, Marlon Weaver, in an "Appalachian Emergency Room" sketch and a hippie in a one-off sketch about two stoners (the other played by Amy Poehler) who attempt to borrow a police dog in order to find their lost stash of marijuana. Despite vowing not to play any characters who were Irish stereotypes, Neeson did play a stereotypically Irish man named Lorken McArdle in the home makeover show parody "You Call This A House, Do Ya?" 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 as Father Bernard in Neil Jordan's adaptation of Patrick McCabe's novel, Breakfast on Pluto. Also in 2005, he voiced the role of a kindly priest on The Simpsons, who converted 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. A year later, he narrated the documentary Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity.
In 2007, Neeson starred in the American Civil War epic Seraphim Falls alongside Pierce Brosnan and Anjelica Huston. He is also set to star as Abraham Lincoln in a film directed by Steven Spielberg. In preparation for the role, Neeson visited Washington, D.C. and read Lincoln's personal letters. He also visited Ford's Theatre, where the President was shot. He again gave his voice to Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008). Neeson's voice is featured in the video game, Fallout 3 as the main character's father, James. The executive producer of the game, Todd Howard, said "This role was written with Liam in mind, and provides the dramatic tone for the entire game".
Neeson appeared as Alistair Little in the BBC Northern Ireland/Big Fish Films television drama Five Minutes of Heaven, which tells the true story of a young Protestant man convicted of murdering a Catholic boy during The Troubles.
He starred in the action movie Taken in 2008, which was a French film also starring Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace. It is based on a script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and was directed by Pierre Morel. Neeson plays a retired Central Intelligence Agency operative from their elite Special Activities Division who sets about tracking down his teenage daughter after she is kidnapped for sexual slavery while travelling in Europe. Taken was a huge worldwide box office hit, grossing $223,882,658 worldwide making over $200,000,000 its initial budget.
Neeson has just wrapped filming the psychological thriller After.Life with Christina Ricci and Justin Long. He also provided a voice for Hayao Miyazaki's anime film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which received an August 2009 release. In 2010 Neeson will play the Greek God Zeus in the remake of the 1981 film, Clash of the Titans. Neeson also stars in the erotic thriller Chloe, due to be theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics on March 26 2010. He will also take on the part of John "Hannibal" Smith in a spin-off movie from the TV series The A Team.
He has played several characters based on real people, including Schindler, Collins, and Kinsey, and is set to play Abraham Lincoln in a 2011 Steven Spielberg-directed biographical film based on the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Neeson was married to actress Natasha Richardson from 3 July 1994 until her death on 18 March 2009, when Richardson suffered a severe head injury sustained in a skiing accident at the Mont Tremblant Resort in the Canadian province of Quebec. Richardson and Neeson have two sons: Micheál (born 1995) and Daniel (born 1996). Neeson lives in Millbrook, New York. In August 2004 Neeson and his late wife purchased an additional sixteen acres next to their estate.
Neeson was offered the 'Freedom of the Town of Ballymena' by Ballymena Borough Council, but because of objections made by members of the Democratic Unionist Party (the D.U.P.) regarding his comments that he had felt like a 'second-class citizen' growing up as a Catholic in the town, he declined the award, citing tensions. Neeson continues to practice the Catholic faith and has raised his children as Catholics. He has also expressed admiration for The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola.
He was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (an OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in her 1999 New Year's Honours List. The American Ireland Fund honoured Liam Neeson with their Performing Arts Award for the great distinction he has brought to Ireland at their 2008 Dinner Gala in New York.
|1978||Pilgrim's Progress||Evangelist And Jesus Christ|
|1982||Merlin and the Sword||Grak||alternate title Arthur the King|
|1984||The Bounty||Charles Churchill|
|Ellis Island||Kevin Murray|
|A Prayer for the Dying||Liam Docherty|
|High Spirits||Martin Brogan|
|The Dead Pool||Peter Swan|
|The Good Mother||Leo Cutter|
|1989||Next of Kin||Briar Gates|
|1990||Darkman||Peyton Westlake/Darkman||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor|
|The Big Man||Danny Scoular|
|1991||Under Suspicion||Tony Aaron|
|1992||Husbands and Wives||Michael Gates|
|Leap of Faith||Will|
|Shining Through||Franz-Otto Dietrich|
|1993||Ethan Frome||Ethan Frome|
|Deception||Dr. Fergus Lamb||alternate title Ruby Cairo|
|Schindler's List||Oskar Schindler||Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
|1994||Nell||Dr. Jerome 'Jerry' Lovell|
|1995||Rob Roy||Robert Roy MacGregor|
|1996||Michael Collins||Michael Collins||Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
|Before and After||Ben Ryan|
|1998||Les Misérables||Jean Valjean|
|1999||The Haunting||Dr. David Marrow|
|Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace||Qui-Gon Jinn||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor|
|2000||Gun Shy||Charlie Mayo|
|2001||Journey into Amazing Caves||Narrator|
|2002||The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition||Narrator|
|K-19: The Widowmaker||Mikhail Polenin|
|Gangs of New York||'Priest' Vallon|
|Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones||Qui-Gon Jinn||voice only, uncredited|
|Evolution: What About God?||Narrator|
|2003||Love Actually||Daniel||Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast|
|Coral Reef Adventure||Narrator|
|2004||Kinsey||Alfred Kinsey||Irish Film Awards - Best Actor Film
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Male
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
|2005||The Simpsons||Father Sean||voice (The Father, The Son and The Holy Guest Star)|
|Kingdom of Heaven||Godfrey of Ibelin|
|Batman Begins||Henri Ducard/Ra's al Ghul||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|Breakfast on Pluto||Father Liam|
|The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||Aslan||voice|
|The Birth of Christ||Narrator|
|2008||The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian||Aslan||voice|
|The Other Man||Peter|
|Fallout 3||James (Dad)||Video game (voice)|
|2009||Five Minutes of Heaven||Alistair Little||Nominated — Irish Film & Television Award for Actor in a Lead Role (Television)|
|Clash of the Titans||Zeus|
|The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader||Aslan||voice|
|The A-Team||John "Hannibal" Smith |
|The Next Three Days||TBA|
|The Red Circle||pre-production|
|File:Liam Neeson at 2008 TIFF|
William John Neeson|
June 7, 1952
United Kingdom Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
|Spouse||Natasha Richardson (1994-2009)|
William John "Liam" Neeson OBE (born June 7, 1952) is an Irish actor, nominated for many awards including the Oscar. He is Famous for his role as Oskar Schindler in the 1993 movie Schindler's List, and after that he has appeared in several popular movie series, including the Star Wars prequel trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia and Batman Begins. He has also continued to play real-life characters, including Michael Collins and Alfred Kinsey.