These days the figure of Liam Neeson has re-emerged in the role it plays best: the action genre. Because although throughout his career he has tried himself in a variety of characters – from starwars a The Miserables-, he knows well – as well as the public – that putting himself in the shoes of honest men who fight for the good or to safeguard the integrity of someone, depending on the circumstances, is infallible. Relentless search, The passenger, relentless revenge Y Non-Stop: no exhaustconfirm this maxim of the Irishman, who these days does his thing in risk below zeroof Netflix.
There, the noble Liam is a truck driver who must embark on a journey to rescue some trapped miners, driving on an icy road and performing other adventures that will not be told here, avoiding spoilers.
However, not everything was rosy for Neeson before achieving that reputation that surrounds and shelters him. What he knew how to earn on his own merit brings with it a path of suffering and constant demands. Situations that marked him with fire since childhood. And with a controversial adolescence.
Liam was raised under the Catholic religion in a very strict way. Every Sunday, together with his parents and his three brothers, he went to mass, and during the week he carried out social actions in Bellymena, his birthplace, in Northern Ireland. “The Church had a great presence in our home. I was an altar boy when I was a child and I had the fantasy of being a priest, “he said in an interview for the CNN.
Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in a complex time. In those years Northern Ireland was crossed by violent social conflicts. There were two options: be Catholic or Protestant; in the middle, there was nothing. “It was not easy to grow up in that environment, with two conflicting religions, with protesters on the street. All of this makes you cautious. Many friends died in encounters with other gangs. I was a boy who grew up in a place where there was war for 30 years.
The actor has a marked date. On January 30, 1972, British paratroopers descended on the town of Deery and, without saying a word, began firing at close range. 14 civilians who were unarmed were killed. A 19-year-old Liam was there: he almost miraculously saved his life by getting to shelter in time. “I have met boys and girls who have been perpetrators of violence and victims. Protestants and Catholics. It is part of my DNA ”, he warns, without removing drama.
Neeson was just 9 years old when his parents enrolled him in boxing school, worried that he would play a sport, but even more so that he knew how to defend himself. His teacher was the village priest. “He was a great boxer, soon he became the best in Ireland,” the man recalled in an interview when Liam was already beginning to be known worldwide.
“I had two pairs of old gloves and a book on how to box,” the actor said of those first blows. He grew up so much that at 11 he started boxing professionally. That same year he began to study theater: far from a vocation, he did it to be close to a classmate he liked.
At 17, when he finished school, he enrolled in university to pursue a degree in Physics and Computer Science, but soon he abandoned his books. Not studying, he had to work. And that was his great objective: since there was not enough money at home, he wanted to get it so he could have some independence. His first job was in a renowned brewery. Shortly after he would also leave boxing, even when everyone envisioned a great future: a heavy blow in a fight sent him to the hospital, and Liam no longer wanted anything to do with getting back into a ring.
In this series of dropouts, Neeson quit his job to become a professor of Computer Science. The argument with a 15-year-old teenager ended in a way that was as violent as it was reprehensible: Liam hit him. And they kicked him out. He ran the year 1976 and decided to embark decisively on acting. He quickly gained ground until he became a benchmark in the theater of his city. He also tried himself in smaller films, and he showed off.
Its premiere was in 1980 when the British filmmaker John Boorman summoned him for Excalibur. He moved to England and on the set he met the actress Helen Mirren, his first famous girlfriend. It was love at first sight. Soon they tried living together, and four years later they distanced themselves. It was just when Liam was called up for the series Miami Viceof don johnsonwhich forced him to move again, this time to the United States.
Liam was 42 years old when he met the great love of his life: the British actress Natasha Richardson. They married and had two children: Michael Y Daniel. Until in 2000 life put them to the test for the first time when the actor suffered a serious accident: he was riding his motorcycle on a road when a deer crossed his path, and he ended up falling down a ravine. Neeson reached back to the side of the road, hoping someone would see him. He was hospitalized with fractures and multiple contusions. The doctors’ diagnosis was not promising. Over the months, he managed to recover. And there, from the first minute, Natasha was always by his side. The Irishman went back to making movies, but he could never get on a motorcycle, not even when the script established it.
Liam and Natasha’s idyllic world would come crashing down on March 18, 2009. The actress was skiing at a resort in Mont Tremblant, near Quebec, Canada, when she lost her balance at high speed and ended up hitting her head on the ice. She was treated quickly, but the doctors could do nothing after verifying that she was brain dead. She was 45 years old.
From that moment the actor’s life changed radically. Immersed in grief, he asked if he would please go back to work to try to clear his mind, since he was afraid of entering a depression. “I’m not good without a job,” he said in an interview with the program 60 minutes. “I just didn’t want, especially for my kids, to seem like I was wallowing in sadness or depression.” Not long ago he remarked that Natasha’s death left him a lesson. “I learned to live and love every day as if it were my last. Because one day, it will be.”
This Tuesday, June 7, he turns 70, supported by his work life, his friends and family, he gets up every morning with a heavy weight on his shoulders. But understanding that he must move on.
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Liam Neeson turns 70, in a life marked by tragedy: from violence in his childhood to the death of his wife