Liam Neeson has become one of the leading international motion-picture actors today. Whether it is his Academy Award®-nominated role of Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s highly acclaimed Schindler’s List (1993), his award-winning portrayal of the legendary Irish Republican hero in Michael Collins (1996), or his role as controversial sex therapist Alfred Kinsey in the critically acclaimed Kinsey (2004), Neeson continues to display an acting range matched by few.
In January 2012, Neeson starred in the box-office hit The Grey. Directed by Joe Carnahan, this action-adventure featured an oil drilling team that struggled to survive after a plane crash that stranded them in the wild of Alaska. Hunting the humans was a pack of wolves that saw them as intruders.
In February 2011, Neeson was seen opposite Diane Kruger and January Jones in Unknown, a psychological thriller about stolen identity. Neeson also co-starred in the Warner Bros. remake of the 1981 film Clash of the Titans, which tells the myth of Perseus and his quest to battle both Medusa and the Kraken monster in order to save the princess Andromeda. A sequel is currently in the works for release in 2012.
In 2010, Neeson appeared in After Life, opposite Christina Ricci. The film involves a young woman caught between life and death and a funeral director who appears to have the gift of transitioning the dead. Additionally, he was seen in the remake of the popular television series The A-Team, alongside Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel; as an ex-con in Paul Haggis’ The Next Three Days; and as the voice of Aslan the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The year 2009 saw the debut of the BBC film Five Minutes of Heaven, which received rave reviews at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
In 2008, Neeson starred in Taken, the runaway box-office hit about an ex-soldier trying to track down the Albanian slave masters who have kidnapped his daughter. Neeson also reteamed with Laura Linney in Richard Eyre’s The Other Man. In May 2008, he reprised his role as the voice of Aslan in Disney’s box-office success The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the sequel to the 2005 hit The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That same year, he also returned to the stage at the Lincoln Center Festival in Gate/Beckett, directed by Atom Egoyan.
In 2006, Neeson graced the screen in the classic revenge drama Seraphim Falls, opposite Pierce Brosnan. In 2005, he appeared in Ridley Scott’s crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven, and co-starred in Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan.
In 2004, Neeson’s portrayal of Alfred Kinsey in Bill Condon’s Kinsey, co-starring Laura Linney, garnered him a Best Actor award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Prior to that, Neeson co-starred with Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Keira Knightley in the Working Title film Love Actually (2003), written and directed by Richard Curtis.
Neeson returned to Broadway in 2002, co-starring with his friend Laura Linney in Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible. Neeson’s performance as John Proctor earned him a Tony Award nomination.
In 2002, he starred opposite Harrison Ford in the true story of Russia’s nuclear submarine tragedy K-19: The Widowmaker, and in 2000, he starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the black comedy Gun Shy.
Neeson starred in the box-office phenomenon Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999) in the role of Qui-Gon Jinn, the Master Jedi Knight who bestows his “force”-ful wisdom upon Obi-Wan Kenobi and the young Anakin Skywalker. That same year, he starred opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones in Jan de Bont’s The Haunting.
In 1998, he starred as Jean Valjean in the screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, co-starring Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes; and played Oscar Wilde in David Hare’s play The Judas Kiss, which opened in London’s West End and subsequently on Broadway.
Neeson starred in the title role in Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins (1996) for which he received Best Actor honors at the Venice Film Festival, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama and London’s prestigious Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor. The film also received the highest honor in Venice, The Golden Lion award.
In 1993, Neeson received worldwide attention for his starring role in the Academy Award®-winning film Schindler’s List. In addition to receiving an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor, he was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.
The Irish-born actor had originally sought a career as a teacher after attending Queen’s University Belfast, and majoring in physics, computer science and math. Neeson set teaching aside and, in 1976, joined the prestigious Lyric Theatre in Belfast, making his professional acting debut in Joseph Plunkett’s The Risen People. After two years with the Lyric, he joined the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the famed national theater of Ireland. Neeson appeared in the Abbey Theatre Festival’s production of Brian Friel’s Translations, and a production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, for the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, England, where he received a Best Actor Award.
In 1980, John Boorman spotted him playing Lennie in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and cast him in the epic saga of the Arthurian legend, Excalibur. Following this motion-picture debut, Neeson has appeared in more than 40 films demonstrating a wide range of characters, including Dino De Laurentiis’ epic remake of The Bounty (1984), directed by Roger Donaldson and co-starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins; the critically acclaimed Lamb (1985), for which he received an Evening Standard Drama Award nomination for his haunting portrayal of a priest tormented by doubts about his faith; Andrei Konchalovsky’s Duet for One (1986), co-starring Julie Andrews; as a political terrorist in A Prayer for the Dying (1987), with Mickey Rourke and Bob Hoskins; and a Jesuit priest in Roland Joffé’s The Mission (1986), co-starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons.
Neeson received critical acclaim for starring as a deaf and mute Vietnam veteran, opposite Cher, in Peter Yates’ courtroom drama Suspect (1987); as a passionate Irish sculptor, opposite Diane Keaton, in The Good Mother (1988); and as scientist Peyton Westlake, whose disfiguring accident forces him into hiding, in Sam Raimi’s fantasy-thriller Darkman (1990).
Neeson next starred in David Leland’s gritty contemporary drama Crossing the Line, based on William McIlvanney’s acclaimed novel The Big Man about an unemployed Scottish miner desperate for money who is thrust into the high-stakes world of bare-knuckle boxing.
In 1992, he starred as a Nazi engineer in David Seltzer’s adaptation of Susan Isaacs’ best-selling novel Shining Through, opposite Michael Douglas; and as a disgraced policeman accused of murder in the erotic thriller Under Suspicion.
Neeson then continued to star in a succession of films, most notably playing the sensitive art historian vying for the affections of Mia Farrow and Judy Davis in Woody Allen’s controversial Husbands and Wives (1992).
His other credits include Ethan Frome (1993), with Joan Allen; Michael Apted’s Nell (1994), starring Jodie Foster and Natasha Richardson; Before and After (1996), with Meryl Streep; and Michael Canton-Jones’ Rob Roy (1995), co-starring Jessica Lange, in the title role.
Neeson made his Broadway debut in the Roundabout Theatre’s 1993 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s 1921 drama Anna Christie, co-starring Natasha Richardson, and received a Tony Award nomination for his performance.
This biography/filmography of Liam Neeson is courtesy of Universal Pictures and the film, Battleship