by Graham Pierrepoint
“I’m sixty-f***ing five,” veteran actor Liam Neeson advised at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this week. “Audiences are eventually going to go 'Come on'.” His statement marks an announcement that will surprise many – as Neeson confirmed his intention to refrain from making any more action movies. It’s the end of what is, on paper, a fairly bizarre era – as the actor was hardly known for big action roles two decades ago, and was already a household name across the world – but it was with the Taken franchise that the star found himself launched into a weird new world of popularity.
While younger viewers will likely know him best for his ‘particular set of skills’ in the aforementioned Taken movies – big, brassy action thriller focused around kidnapping and vengeance – he of course came to fame through cult roles such as Darkman and Michael Collins – though he would make his career breakthrough as part of Steven Spielberg’s award-winning Schindler’s List in 1993. His move from Hollywood blockbusters into cult B-movies was an odd one – but it is one that has served him well for the good part of a decade. An actor celebrated for bringing a certain kind of tortured soul to his performances, watching the star take vengeance on kidnappers and shooting down bad guys was a rather odd spectacle for a while.
Now, however, it seems that Neeson is ready to get back to doing what he always, arguably, did best – acting beyond a few shoot outs and explosions. To many, too, he is Qui-Gon Jinn from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – but again, this appears to be the sort of movie that the versatile actor is set to be putting behind him. Big, daft action movies will always have a draw – and for Neeson, moving into them was a lucrative move that has certainly kept his name fresh in the minds of moviegoers.
Neeson hasn’t always done big, serious drama – he bizarrely brought Hannibal Smith back to life in the movie adaptation of The A-Team, and ducked off-screen to voice Good Cop/Bad Cop in riotous family animation The Lego Movie. Therefore, it can hardly be said that the actor has had a ‘typical’ movie – his is an IMDb page full of weird and wonderful pictures that perhaps illustrate quite how versatile he is. While he may not be keen to focus on explosions and shoot-outs for future projects, we certainly hope he’ll stick around and give us some more award-winning performances in the years to come.