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Death Wish - Liam Neeson Interview

Author: Gaynor Flynn
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Acting vet Liam Neeson has played all manner of characters, but you’ve never seen him as thoroughly badass as in new Luc Besson-penned thriller Taken. 3D’s Gaynor Flynn spoke to the Irishman about his new role, performing his own stunts, and what it’s like being an action man at 56.

Acting in films for over 25 years, Liam Neeson is continually drawn to playing individuals “who stand for something.” But in his latest film, Taken, he’s opted for something completely different: part Terminator, part Jason Bourne, he’s an ex-Government operative or “preventer” who relentlessly pursues an underworld group of kidnappers that have abducted his daughter (Lost’s Maggie Grace). It’s fast, furious and very bloody.

What attracted you to this role-
I liked the idea of making a thriller that had good pace and aimed high on an emotional level.  Above all, we see Bryan [his character] as a father who idolises his daughter. But then, even though it's never been a fantasy of mine to play [an action hero], one gets a real kick out of shooting real movie baddies and driving like a racing car driver.

What’s your process for choosing roles-
I’m always motivated by script. That’s my sole criteria and it’s either something that gets under my skin or it doesn’t.  And with this script I just loved the action of it. I loved the fact that I was being asked to do it.  I was 54 years of age then, and I thought well, you know, in a few years time I’m never going to be asked to do this sort of stuff again.

What did you do to get into this guy’s headspace-
I have no real process. As I say I’m just always motivated by the script and what’s required from me on a scene by scene basis and I trusted Pierre Morel my director.

What was it about Pierre that appealed-  After all you’ve worked with
Spielberg, Scorsese, Neil Jordan, the best of the best and he’s relatively new.  Was that a concern-
No not at all. Pierre has had movies in his blood for a long time and is hugely experienced, especially as a director of photography. I particularly liked the originality of District B13, which showed he had a director's eye and an incredible sense of rhythm and energy.

Did you empathise with Bryan as a father-
I did yeah. I’ve got two sons and it was easy to use an imaginative leap to figure out how I would feel if one of my children was kidnapped or taken. I found this particularly interesting territory, because I'm traditionally against violence, especially the kind of violence Bryan resorts to in the movie. But it's a case of ‘them or me’ and Bryan takes that situation to its logical conclusion.

You had to undergo some pretty rigorous training for this role. Can you talk about that-
I keep pretty fit, but I had to crank up the level and intensity of my training.  I had to get together with a couple of guys in Paris and learn these different fight techniques known as parkour (a propulsive fighting style) which we had to keep doing everyday because there was so many fights in the thing. So it was pretty exhausting I have to admit.

Would you like to make more action films-
I like them every now and then. I’ve done a few what I could call ‘cowboy in armour’ films and they’re always good fun. It’s play-acting with shields and spears and swords and stuff; it’s like being a kid again.

You start filming Abraham Lincoln in January with Steven Spielberg.  The last time you two collaborated you received an Oscar nomination.  Do you think that could happen again-
Oh I don’t know, but I was very impressed with Schindler’s List. I thought it was incredibly strong and very timely too.  And I thought Steven did an extraordinary job; it was a terrific film and I was very proud to be a part of it.

Taken is in cinemas 14 August. More information from .