skip navigation
Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Also Known As: William John Neeson Died:
Born: June 7, 1952 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: United Kingdom Profession: actor, forklift operator, architect's assistant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

ed "Battleship" (2012) and "The Dark Night Rises" (2012), the culmination of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy. Later the same year, "Taken 2" (2012) brought back Bryan Mills in a new kidnapping drama. Neeson next starred in "Third Person" (2013), a romantic drama from writer-director Paul Haggis before returning to action thrillers with the airplane-set cat and mouse game "Non-Stop" (2014). He showed off his comedic side with several voice roles in the smash animated hit "The LEGO Movie" (2014), followed by a good-natured satire of his action-film persona as a legendary gunslinger in Seth MacFarlane's "A Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014). while others praised the actor's magnetic and emotional portrayal. That same year, he took on another legend of literature, this time portraying Victor Hugo's timeless and noble victim of injustice Jean Valjean in Bille August's feature adaptation of "Les Miserables" (1998). Again his gentle, but intense presence and air of experience made him a natural choice for the role.Neeson landed his highest profile role to date, playing Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn in the much-anticipated prequel "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999). In terms of the...

ed "Battleship" (2012) and "The Dark Night Rises" (2012), the culmination of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy. Later the same year, "Taken 2" (2012) brought back Bryan Mills in a new kidnapping drama. Neeson next starred in "Third Person" (2013), a romantic drama from writer-director Paul Haggis before returning to action thrillers with the airplane-set cat and mouse game "Non-Stop" (2014). He showed off his comedic side with several voice roles in the smash animated hit "The LEGO Movie" (2014), followed by a good-natured satire of his action-film persona as a legendary gunslinger in Seth MacFarlane's "A Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014).

while others praised the actor's magnetic and emotional portrayal. That same year, he took on another legend of literature, this time portraying Victor Hugo's timeless and noble victim of injustice Jean Valjean in Bille August's feature adaptation of "Les Miserables" (1998). Again his gentle, but intense presence and air of experience made him a natural choice for the role.

Neeson landed his highest profile role to date, playing Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn in the much-anticipated prequel "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999). In terms of the world's chronology, Neeson had the distinct honor of being the first person ever to utter the words "May the force be with you." Neeson eagerly pursued the role, having been interested in being a part of the "Star Wars" universe for many years. While acting against several computer-generated characters added in editing - and given some uninspired dialogue - Neeson brought a quiet grace to his role and managed to keep the film from becoming a soulless special effects vehicle alongside castmates Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L Jackson and newcomer Jake Lloyd. Later that summer, he undertook a more sinister role, playing the professor who conducts psychological studies on a diverse trio of individuals in the remake of the "The Haunting" (1999), a modern adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House. Neeson also starred as a retiring DEA agent faced with one last exasperating case in the dark romantic comedy "Gun Shy" (2000), co-starring and produced by Sandra Bullock.

While Neeson did not appear in the subsequent "Star Wars" installments - save for a brief voice-over cameo in "Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002) - he did co-star with Harrison Ford in "K-19: The Widowmaker" (2002), adroitly playing a noble, sensitive Russian submarine captain who clashes with his stern taskmaster and superior (Ford) when their vessel becomes the subject of a nuclear accident with international repercussions. Neeson also more than held his own with Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz in Martin Scorsese's epic crime saga, "Gangs of New York" (2002). The actor played DiCaprio's father and the leader of the Dead Rabbits gang in the opening of the film, which portrayed the violent gang warfare between the natives of New York and ethnic immigrants in the middle of the 19th century. Dialing down to a more sensitive mode, Neeson appeared in the large ensemble of writer-director Richard Curtis' multi-arc romantic comedy "Love Actually" (2003), effectively playing a recently widowed stepfather who struggles to forge a deeper relationship with his late wife's son (Thomas Sangster).

Neeson gave a bravura performance as the noted sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in writer-director Bill Condon's biopic "Kinsey" (2004) opposite Laura Linney, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor, though he was snubbed for a nomination at the Oscars. The following year, he appeared in the epic historical drama, "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005), which took place in the relative calm between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades of the 12th century. Neeson played Godfrey of Ibelin, a Crusader knight who calls upon his long-lost son (Orlando Bloom) to help him defend Jerusalem from Muslim invaders. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film provoked little outrage for its subject matter despite a post-9/11 world and treated Muslims - usually easy bad guy fodder for Hollywood - with fairness. Meanwhile, Neeson was appropriately ambiguous in the role of the malevolent Henri Ducard, a mysterious member of the League of Shadows and a key figure in Bruce Wayne's early transformation into the Dark Knight (Christian Bale), in the excellent franchise reboot, "Batman Begins" (2005).

In "Breakfast on Pluto" (2005), Neil Jordan's romp through the cultural dustbin of 1970s London as seen through the eyes of Patrick "Kitten" Braden, a transvestite and suspected IRA bomber (Cillian Murphy), Neeson played Father Bernard, the parish priest in the Irish village where Braden was born and reared. Neeson next provided the voice of Aslan the Lion in the much-anticipated fantasy adventure, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005), adapted from the Christian-themed novel by C.S. Lewis. Following a turn as a Civil War colonel hell-bent on taking revenge in "Seraphim Falls" (2006), Neeson was one of several celebrities taking turns to narrate "Trumbo" (2008), a documentary look at screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted in the late 1940s by the House Un-American Activities Committee and who later posthumously earned an Academy Award for "Roman Holiday" (1953). Neeson then played a former government operative hunting down his daughter's kidnappers across Europe in the suspense thriller "Taken" (2009).

It was while filming Atom Egoyan's "Chloe" in March 2009 that Neeson learned his wife had taken a fall on a beginner's ski slope at Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. He rushed to her side from his Toronto set, eventually flying back with her to New York, where Richardson was checked into Lenox Hill Hospital, amidst a flurry of rumors as to the exact nature of her injury. Keeping vigil with Neeson at the hospital were their two sons, Richardson's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and her sister, Joely Richardson. On March 18, 2009, two days after the accident, Richardson was taken off life support following confirmation that she was officially brain dead.

As sympathy for Neeson and Richardson's family poured in, the grieving actor focused on his work while raising their children as a now single father. The erotic character study "Chloe" (2009) opened to tepid reviews, but Hayao Miyazaki's animated "Ponyo" (2009), for which Neeson provided the voice of the titular fish-girl's father, won raves. A bizarre and colorful take on Hans Christian Anderson's "Little Mermaid" fairy tale, "Ponyo" enjoyed the warm reception afforded Miyazaki's films and gave Neeson a successful project seen around the world. The actor had less luck with the weakly received psychological thriller "After.Life" (2009), where he played a mysterious funeral director helping Christina Ricci navigate the aftermath of her death, but he notched a worldwide blockbuster with "Clash of the Titans" (2010). An amped-up remake of the campy 1981 fan favorite, "Titans" saw Neeson ruling Mt. Olympus as Zeus and bellowing "Release the Kraken!" Fans of 1980s pop culture also enjoyed Neeson breathing life back into another of the decade's hits, playing John "Hannibal" Smith in the big-budget 2010 take on the 1980s TV series, "The A-Team." Chomping a cigar with a twinkle in his eye much like his TV counterpart, the late George Peppard, Neeson led the newest incarnations of the famous foursome through a big-budget, action-packed adventure highly anticipated by fanboys. The deep-voiced actor closed out the year by reprising his role as the lion king Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (2010).

Neeson starred in two films in 2011, the identity-theft thriller "Unknown" (2011) and Joe Carnahan's survival thriller "The Grey" (2011). The sequel "Wrath of the Titans" (2012) was followed by two high-profile summer pictures, the critically-derid

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Monster Calls, A (2016)
3.
4.
5.
6.
 Entourage (2015)
7.
 Ted 2 (2015)
8.
 Silence (2015)
9.
 Run All Night (2015)
10.
 Taken 3 (2015)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in Ballymena, Northern Ireland
1961:
At age nine, joined a boxing team run by a priest
1970:
Quit boxing as a middleweight, following a blackout after a bout
:
Planned to become a teacher, before answering an ad placed by the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast
1976:
Made professional stage debut in "The Risen People" at Lyric Player's Theatre in Belfast
1976:
Stayed with the Lyric Players' Theatre repertory company for two years
1978:
Joined the Abbey Theatre after moving to Dublin
1979:
Made educational film debut as Jesus of Nazareth in a film based on John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" (filmed for evangelical Bible students in Ireland)
1980:
Played Lenny in the Abbey Theatre production of "Of Mice and Men"; spotted by director John Boorman who later cast the actor in "Excalibur"
1981:
Feature film debut, as Sir Gawain in Boorman's "Excalibur"
1984:
U.S. TV debut, the CBS miniseries "Ellis Island"
1984:
Co-starred as Blackie O'Neill in the syndicated miniseries "A Woman of Substance"
1986:
Reprised role of Blackie O'Neill in the syndicated miniseries sequel "Hold That Dream"
1985:
Acted in the TV-movie "Merlin and the Sword" (CBS)
1987:
Moved to Los Angeles, CA
1987:
Featured as a deaf-mute man falsely accused of murder and defended by Cher in "Suspect"
1988:
Landed featured role in "The Good Mother" opposite Diane Keaton
1990:
Made feature starring debut as the titular tortured antihero of "Darkman"
1992:
Broadway debut in a critically-acclaimed perfomance in "Anna Christie" opposite Natasha Richardson
1992:
Featured in Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives"
1993:
Breakthrough screen role as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List"; received Best Actor Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations
1994:
Co-starred with Natasha Richardson and Jodie Foster in "Nell"
1995:
Played title role in the Scotland set historical adventure "Rob Roy"
1996:
Played a father whose teenaged son is charged with murder in "Before and After"; co-starred Meryl Streep
1996:
Starred as the title revolutionary in Neil Jordan's controversial film "Michael Collins"
1998:
Returned to Broadway playing Oscar Wilde in David Hare's drama "The Judas Kiss"
1998:
Starred as Jean Valjean in Bille August's adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic tale of injustice "Les Miserables"
1999:
Cast in featured role as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in "Star Wars: Episode I ¿ The Phantom Menace"
1999:
Portrayed a professor who conducts psychological experiments in Jan De Bont's remake of "The Haunting"
2002:
Returned to Broadway in "The Crucible" opposite Laura Linney
2002:
Appeared in the highly anticipated Martin Scorsese film "Gangs of New York"
2003:
Played a widower in Richard Curtis' ensemble comedy "Love Actually"
2004:
Played the title role in Bill Condon's "Kinsey"; received Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations
2005:
Cast opposite Orlando Bloom in Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven"
2005:
Played Batman's mentor Henri Ducard in "Batman Begins," directed by Christopher Nolan
2005:
Starred alongside Cillian Murphy, as the priest who fathers him in Neil Jordan's "Breakfast on Pluto"
2005:
Voiced Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"; feature based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
2007:
Co-starred with Pierce Brosnan in the Western "Seraphim Falls"
2008:
Reprised role as the voice of Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
2008:
Played a retired CIA operative whose daughter is kidnapped in "Taken"
2010:
Co-starred with Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried in Atom Egoyan's erotic thriller "Chloe"
2010:
Portrayed Zeus, the leader of the Gods of Mount Olympus, in a remake of "Clash of the Titans"
2010:
Starred in the feature film adaptation of "The A-Team" as John 'Hannibal' Smith, originally played on the 1980s TV series by George Peppard
2010:
Reprised role as the voice of Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"
2012:
Starred in the adventure thriller "The Grey," directed by Joe Carnahan
2012:
Reprised role of Zeus in the fantasy adventure sequel "Wrath of the Titans"
2012:
Returned to Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise as Ra's Al Ghul in "The Dark Knight Rises"
2012:
Reprised role in action sequel "Taken 2"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Queen's University: -

Notes

Made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in December 1999

Neeson suffered a broken pelvis when his motorcycle collided with a deer near his upstate New York home on July 11, 2000.

"Doing ['Schindler's List'] made me aware of the importance of what you say on a 20-foot screen that 20 million people are going to see. There's a responsibility. It's not that I wanted to play good guys all the time. But it made me wary of doing a piece of trash just because it had a large budget. Not that there's anything wrong with entertainment, and Hollywood will churn that out regardless. It's just that I was suddenly made aware of the responsbilities I have as an actor."---Liam Neeson quoted in Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1994.

"It comes to the point where you feel raped, where nothing is private and everybody and his fucking mother knows something about my personal life. You come away feeling cheap and tacky."---Neeson on the tabloid press to USA Today, April 3, 1995.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I get a chance to do something I love and they pay me lots of money for it. This is an honor to sit with you in this beautiful hotel in Los Angeles. It should be wintertime, man. I should be working in some factory in Belfast. But I'm not. I give thanks for that."---Neeson quoted in Movieline, May 1999.

"There's actors who want to know what their character had for breakfast last Tuesday. I'm not from that school. I had this amazing costume, half samurai, half Arthurian, and just having that on I got the guy. I knew how he stood. So do I know this world? Yes, I do. But if I have to describe it, I can't."---Neeson on how he as an actor approached Qui-Gon Jinn, his character in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" to Movieline, May 1999.

In perhaps a pique of anger, he reportedly told Jeannie Williams of USA Today that he was quitting movie work. Neeson later backtracked claiming it had been prompted by overwork.

"I don't set out to play real people; what usually motivates me is the quality of the writing. But yeah, I guess I may subconsciously seek them out. These are people who stand for something, something that is good to remind audiences of; they had a code of ethics that you perhaps don't find anymore."---Neeson on playing historical characters such as Oskar Schindler and Alfred Kinsey to The Observer, October 13, 2002.

"We're all groping our way through life and hoping we'll be accepted and tolerated. And, God bless people like Kinsey who can kind of shine a light into a murky area of our humanity."---Liam Neeson talking about Alfred Kinsey, who he portrayed in "Kinsey" to Cynthia McFadden of ABC's Primetime Live, October 14, 2004.

"I thought I'd be the pipe-smoking, roaring-fire, cardigan-wearing dad, and I became totally frozen," he admits. "I looked at my wife with pleading eyes: 'You go first!' She went first."---Neeson, on how he reacted when he sons asked him about sex, quoted to People, November 22, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Helen Mirren. Actor. Met while making "Excalibur," together from 1981 to 1985.
companion:
Julia Roberts. Actor. Met while making "Satisfaction," together from 1988 to 1990; later co-starred in "Michael Collins".
companion:
Barbra Streisand. Actor, singer. Dated briefly.
companion:
Jennifer Grey. Actor. Dated briefly.
companion:
Brooke Shields. Actor, former model. No longer together.
wife:
Natasha Richardson. Actor. Met when they appeared together on Broadway in "Anna Christie"; married on July 3, 1994; mother of Micheal and Daniel Neeson.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Barney Neeson. Custodian. Deceased; worked in a boys' primary school.
mother:
Kitty Neeson. Cook. Worked in a girls' grammar school.
mother-in-law:
Vanessa Redgrave. Actor.
sister:
Elizabeth Neeson.
sister:
Bernadette Neeson. Teacher. Has six children.
sister:
Rosaleen Neeson.
son:
Micheal Richard Antonio Neeson. Born on June 22, 1995; mother, Natasha Richardson.
son:
Daniel Jack Neeson. Born on August 28, 1996; mother, Natasha Richardson.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Liam Neeson: The First Biography" St. Martin's Press

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute