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William John "Liam" Neeson, OBE (born 7 June 1952) is an Irish actor, who has been a U.S.marker citizen since 2009. 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 Hollywoodmarker blockbusters, including Darkman, Rob Roy, Kingdom of Heaven, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Taken. 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.

Early life

Neeson was born in Ballymenamarker, County Antrim, Northern Irelandmarker, the son of Katherine "Kitty" (née Brown), a cook, and Barnard "Barney" Neeson, a caretaker at the local Catholic girls' 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 fancied 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. And his Baptism skills are second to none."

While at University, Neeson`s abilities as a talented football 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.

Neeson was enrolled in 1971 as a Physics and Computer Science undergraduate student at Queen's University Belfastmarker in Belfast, Northern Ireland, before leaving to work for Guinness.


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 Newcastlemarker for two years before again returning to his hometown. 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. He had a speaking role in Airplane, the Movie. Following a bet from co-workers at the architects' office where he worked, Neeson successfully auditioned at the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfastmarker. After two years there, Neeson moved to Dublinmarker 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 Irelandmarker. Neeson acted in several other Project productions and joined the Abbey Theatremarker in 1978. In 1980, filmmaker 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 Londonmarker, 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 Hollywoodmarker in order to star in high-profile roles. That year, he starred alongside Cher and Dennis Quaid in Suspect. The role would bring Neeson critics' applause, but it was 1990's Darkman that would bring his name to the 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 Broadwaymarker 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.

Star Wars

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 16 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.

Other Work

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.marker and read Lincoln's personal letters. He also visited Ford's Theatremarker, where the President was shotmarker. 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".

In the director's commentary of the 2007 Transformers DVD, Michael Bay said that he had told the animators to seek inspiration from Liam Neeson in creating Optimus Prime's body language.

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 traveling 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 Albania Airways in Albania and Belfast with Alan Woods and Ciaran 'The Hulk' Colgan. He also provided a voice for the film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which received an August 2009 release. In June 2009, it was reported that Neeson is in talks to take on the part of John "Hannibal" Smith in a spin-off movie from the TV series The A Team.

Personal life

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 Resortmarker in the Canadianmarker province of Quebecmarker. Richardson and Neeson have two sons: Micheál (born 1995) and Daniel (born 1996). Neeson lives in Millbrookmarker, New Yorkmarker. In August 2004 Neeson and his late wife purchased an additional 16 acres next to their estate.

Neeson was offered the 'Freedom of the Town of Ballymena' by Ballymena Borough Councilmarker, 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, the offer was withdrawn. 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.

In August 2009, Neeson stated on ABC's Good Morning America that he had been naturalized as a United States Citizen.


Year Film Role Notes
1978 Pilgrim's Progress Evangelist And Jesus Christ
1981 Excalibur Gawain
1982 Merlin and the Sword Grak alternate title Arthur the King
1983 Krull Kegan
1984 The Bounty Charles Churchill
Ellis Island Kevin Murray
1986 The Mission Fielding
Lamb Michael Lamb
1987 Suspect Carl Anderson
A Prayer for the Dying Liam Docherty
1988 Satisfaction Martin Falcon
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
Volpi Cup
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Before and After Ben Ryan
1998 Les Misérables Jean Valjean
Everest Narrator
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
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
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
2007 Seraphim Falls Carver
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)
Taken Bryan Mills
2009 Five Minutes of Heaven Alistair Little
Ponyo Fujimoto voice
After.Life Eliot
Chloé Unknown
2010 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
2011 Lincoln Abraham Lincoln
The Red Circle pre-production


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