No more action movies?: Liam Neeson celebrates his 70th birthday

When he was young, Liam Neeson wanted nothing to do with acting - his dream: to become a boxer one day.

No more action movies?: Liam Neeson celebrates his 70th birthday

When he was young, Liam Neeson wanted nothing to do with acting - his dream: to become a boxer one day. The actor, who celebrates his 70th birthday today, has pursued many careers before finally deciding on theatrical arts.

He was a boxer, a forklift driver and tried to be a teacher. Today, Liam Neeson, who celebrates his 70th birthday on June 7th, is best known as an action hero. He's experienced a lot in the past few decades, but now he's just "damn boring". At least that's what the actor thinks of himself.

It all began in the Northern Irish town of Ballymena when Neeson was born there in 1952, the third of four children of a cook and a school caretaker. At first it looked as if he could one day become famous as a boxer. He started the sport when he was only nine years old, but then dropped out around the age of 17.

The today's star, like two of his sisters, wanted to be a teacher. "Well, I was trying to be a teacher," Neeson told ESPN in 2012. It was "probably the most difficult job" he ever wanted to work in. But then an incident happened. While he was still studying, a 15-year-old student threatened him with a knife, the actor said. Neeson therefore hit him, which earned the 70-year-old a reprimand: "My direct reaction was to hit him, which I shouldn't have done, but I felt threatened."

Neeson broke off a degree in physics and computer science and worked for a while, among other things, as a forklift driver in a Guinness factory. However, he had already flirted with acting during his school days and finally decided in 1976 to go to the theater. Smaller roles in series and TV films followed before his career picked up speed.

The big international breakthrough came with Steven Spielberg's drama "Schindler's List" in 1993. In it, Neeson embodied the entrepreneur Oskar Schindler (1908-1974), who saved about 1,200 Jewish forced laborers from death during World War II. Liam Neeson received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his performance.

A good 100 engagements, including as a voice actor, have followed to this day. Neeson became part of the "Star Wars" universe as Qui-Gon Jinn, starring in blockbusters such as Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York". In 2008, Neeson cemented the image many fans have of him today. In the action thriller "96 Hours" he was seen as a father who has "very special skills". He had the eponymous number of hours to find his kidnapped daughter.

From then on, Neeson was particularly perceived as an action star. He might have been able to reach for the Holy Grail years earlier. After "Schindler's List" he had several phone calls with "James Bond" producer Barbara Broccoli, as the actor revealed in a conversation with moderator James Corden last year.

Although he wasn't offered the role of the secret agent at the time, he knew that a new Bond was being sought - and he was probably talking about appearing in "GoldenEye" instead of Pierce Brosnan. However, his future wife Natasha Richardson (1963-2009) had told him: "Darling, if you are offered James Bond and you play him, then you will not marry me."

Neeson chose love. He married Richardson, whom he met on Broadway in 1993, in the summer of 1994. Their son Micheál was born in 1995, followed a year later by another son, Daniel. They spent happy years as a family, but in 2009 there was a serious accident. The actress fell while skiing in Québec and died a little later as a result of a brain hemorrhage.

His wife died around 13 years ago, and the Irishman has never married. According to media reports, a two-year relationship with a PR agent followed between 2010 and 2012. In 2016, after an interview with the daily newspaper "Irish Independent", he was also said to have had a liaison with an "incredibly famous" actress. There was speculation that it could be Diane Keaton or Susan Sarandon. However, a spokesperson explained shortly thereafter that Neeson was only joking and the humorous tone was simply lost in the printed version.

In February he then made it public on Australian breakfast television that he had recently fallen unhappily in love. In "Sunrise," Neeson revealed that he made several friends while filming his new action thriller, "Blacklight." And: "I fell in love, but she was taken."

In addition, the 70-year-old has had to deal with further losses in recent years. According to media reports, the actor's nephew died in 2019 at the age of only 35. In the summer of 2020, his mother died just a day before his birthday.

Neeson also shocked with an interview in early 2019 in which he spoke of going mad with anger after a friend was raped many years ago. "She said it was a black man," Neeson told The Independent newspaper. For several days he then roamed the streets with a blackjack, hoping "that a 'black bastard' would come out of a bar and provoke me. So that I could ... kill him."

In the same interview, Neeson distanced himself from this way of thinking, but of course he was harshly criticized for it. A little later he also made it clear on "Good Morning America" ​​that he himself was shocked by this "primal drive". "I'm not a racist," the actor explained. He would not have reacted differently if his acquaintance had said at the time that it was a white Irishman, Scotsman or Briton.

Now, Liam Neeson has gotten to the point where he considers himself "boring as hell." "I think it will stop with the action films," he said in the "Today" interview, looking at his advanced age. "It has to stop. The audience isn't stupid. I'll let it go at some point."

He likes to go fly fishing, read a lot, gave up alcohol a little more than eight years ago and now only drinks decaffeinated coffee, he recently said on the Smartless podcast. That may not be exciting, but he certainly hasn't led a boring life to date.

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