Liam Neeson: ‘60 is the new 40’By Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—Liam Neeson cringed, shaking his body a bit as he spat out the names of his new film’s co-stars as if they were the most unattractive women on earth: “Olivia Wilde—ugh! Mila Kunis—ugh!”
Liam, of course, was joking about his good fortune of being cast with two of filmdom’s hottest actresses in writer-director Paul Haggis’ “Third Person.” “Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?,” the actor deadpanned in our recent interview at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Battery Park, New York. “I’ve got a couple of bed scenes with Olivia—so, yep, the push-ups continue.”
The actor, blessed with the Irish sense of humor, finds himself an action star and having sex scenes at age 60. “Well, 60 is the new 40, right?” he asked aloud. “That’s what everybody tells me.” To his credit, the NY resident does still look boyish. To keep fit for those roles, Liam follows an exercise regimen: “When I’m in the city, I do eight miles around the park with a walking partner. I do an extra loop—and the usual boring push-ups and sit ups.”
Liam is back as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent with his “particular set of skills,” in “Taken 2,” the sequel to the surprise 2008 hit. In the first “Taken,” which marked a departure from Liam’s usual dramatic films, his character’s daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), was abducted. This time, it’s his wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), who’s “taken” in the film mostly shot in Istanbul. To paraphrase his memorable line in the original film, Liam’s character will look for the abductors, find them and…you get the drift.
The success of “Taken” meant that Liam was deluged with action-movie roles. “I was sent quite a few action scripts, some of which I did,” he said. “The others I didn’t. But, they’re still sending scripts to me. Hollywood loves pigeonholing everybody, so suddenly, I get pigeonholed again.”
Asked how he celebrated the big 6-0 milestone, the three-time Golden Globe Best Actor nominee answered, “I’ll name drop: I was with my pal. Bono. We had a very quiet dinner at The Waverly Inn with some buddies. Matthew Broderick was there. There were about 15 of us. It was lovely.” Liam said “very quiet” in a winking tone, of course, as he did too when he told us, demonstrating drinking with an imaginary glass with his hand, “Lots of Perrier water was consumed.”
The actor was Steven Spielberg’s original choice to play the title role in “Lincoln” which eventually went to Daniel Day Lewis. He sounded matter-of-fact when he recounted why Daniel ended up with the part and, now, strong Best Actor buzz.
Liam recalled. “I was doing the first ‘Taken’ when I was preparing for ‘Lincoln.’ I was fluctuating in weight. I was dropping weight when I thought we were getting close to shooting, and then we weren’t. Then, I was putting weight on again.”
Joking once more, Liam cracked, “I called Steven one day and said, ‘Steven, please call Daniel Day Lewis if you haven’t already done so.’” He added, “Steven made the right choice.”
On whether his two sons with his wife, the late actress Natasha Richardson—Michael, 17, and Daniel, 16—are showing any interest in acting, Liam said, “No. I am relieved, because if you’re the son or daughter of actors and actresses, it’s double pressure, because more is expected from you.” Triple pressure, considering that their grandma is Vanessa Redgrave and great grandpa was Sir Michael Redgrave.
Liam stressed, “I am relieved, because for every successful actor or actress, the name of the game is rejection. You go to an audition, and you’re too tall, too Irish, your nose…somehow, you’re not quite right. I don’t want my kids to feel that.”
We told him that in our interview with actor Benjamin Walker, we were struck by their resemblance. After all, Benjamin (who is married to Meryl’s daughter, actress Mamie Gummer) played the younger version of Liam’s titular character in “Kinsey.” “I had lunch with him, his new wife, and Meryl,” Liam volunteered. “I don’t think he’s uncannily like me. He’s developed into a really good actor. He seems to have a wonderful future. He’s going to do ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,’ with Scarlett Johansson.”
Told that the “Taken” movies may scare some Americans from traveling because of the depiction of abduction, Liam said, “I’ve had quite a few people come up when the first film came out and say, ‘I’m glad my son or daughter’s never going anywhere near Europe.’ That’s so sad, because kids have to travel. They have to experience different cultures. So, it grieves me when I hear that, even though they’re being complimentary.”
When we returned to the topic of Haggis’ “Third Person,” at first, he balked at giving away the story. “It’s going to shoot in Italy,” he said. “How can I describe it without spoiling it for you? I play a successful writer who’s getting over the death of his child—and there are these other characters who are kind of not related to each other.”
Finally, he spilled some beans. “I’ll tell you how it ends up,” he said. (Spoiler alert) “You will realize that all those other characters are figments of this writer’s imagination, because he’s trying to cope with his grief by placing these invented characters in a similar situation and what they would do (end spoiler alert).”
E-mail email@example.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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