EXCLUSIVE: LIAM NEESON ON LIVING UP TO HIS TOUGH DAD IMAGE
Born in Northern Ireland, actor Liam Neeson’s work as the ultimate action man has taken him across the world. DAD.info caught up with him for a chat about his films and family life in New York, where he lives with his two sons, Micheál, 19 and Daniel, 18...
Hi Liam. How's family life in New York?
We're all good, and thank you for asking. My boys are getting bigger now… We've got a great family, a grand support system; I'm lucky enough to be able to work in a profession that I love doing. And for all that I feel very blessed every day.
You've been playing a lot of action hero roles in recent years, in the three Taken movies, and now your recent release, Run All Night. What's the bravest thing you've done in real life?
The bravest thing? Well, I climbed a tiny little mountain in Utah and I actually have a huge fear of heights, so that was brave for me! My son and I climbed this little peak – it was called Molly's Nipple – and it was only about 3,000 feet or something. I was really sh*t scared, especially getting near the summit and it wasn't pick axe time, but it was pretty steep. There were a couple of moments where everybody says, 'Don't look down!' But you have to look down, you just have to, but it was scary!
Why did you do it?
Because my son really wanted to do it and I thought, 'F**k it! I'd better go do it.' And my son went up like a mountain goat. But when I was up there, I was like, 'Ahhh!' But at least I made it.
In your film, A Walk in the Tombstones, you played a man who suffered from tremendous guilt and torment. Was that a difficult role to play?
No, because I understood the man. He's convinced he's failed people in the past, that he didn't do enough, and he has a great deal of guilt about it. And I think just being Irish, and being Irish Catholic especially, helps a great deal in playing that kind of man!
What kinds of attitudes or principles did you grow up with in Northern Ireland?
What I learned growing up was the importance of a work ethic. That's a real characteristic in the North, and my parents drilled it into my sisters and myself: Get a job, no matter what your profession is going to be. Get a job and provide for yourself and provide for your family.
Also, a man should be true to his word. And that he should defend his viewpoint, even if everyone else is against him. You should believe in yourself and be honest and authentic and respect others. Those are the qualities I value in life, and what I appreciate in most in other men in particular.
You've said in the past that work helped you with the grieving process after the tragic loss of your wife Natasha (Liam's wife, actress Natasha Richardson, sadly died in a skiing accident in 2009). How did it get you through what must have been such a difficult time?
It was the only thing that was really going to help me cope, because you just focus on the job, and you don't allow yourself to dwell in sadness. I still think about Natasha all the time; you don't get over something like that. My kids have also been the best support for me. Hopefully I'm the same for them, too. Work gives your life structure when you lose your way. That explains why I’ve deliberately worked a lot in recent times. Plus, there’s the fact that I’ve always had the feeling my run of good luck won’t last for ever.
The theme of family runs through a lot of your films – Run All Night and the Taken franchise particularly. Your sons are heading into the world and are off to college. How are you finding that?
They’re leaving the nest. But that’s what you want for your children. You want them to spread their wings and get out there and make something of themselves. So it’s bittersweet. But I want that for them, always have. I want them to see the world and have fun; have relationships. And settle down if they want. They’re kids though, they hopefully have another twenty years before they do that.
It’s different for guys. Women get their act together emotionally by their late twenties. They know who they are. Guys haven't got a f**king clue until they're at least 35. Actually, I'd say 40. So don't even think about marriage and kids until you're at least 37, 38.
Is that from your own experience?
It's just an observation from being on the planet 62 years. And probably a sweeping generalisation! But yes, I want them to have lives and loves. Girls with good qualities... and, of course, to be happy.
Liam's latest film, Run All Night, is in cinemas now.