Liam Neeson returns in his latest film Taken 2 as Bryan Mills, a protective father who just happens to be a retired CIA agent with a ‘very particular set of skills’.
The 60-year-old actor has played, as he says himself “Michael Collins, Schindler, Zeus and a Jedi”, but he was surprised to find himself playing Bryan again.
Since the success of Taken - one of the most successful French-made films ever released in the US - Neeson has found a resurgence in his career, and fans have been crying out for a sequel.
Having won legions of admirers through his roles in films such as Schindler’s List and Star Wars: Episode I, and capturing women’s hearts as a grieving widow in Love Actually, now Neeson is an action hero.
But the Irish actor admits, despite his admiration for screenwriter Luc Besson, he never even expected the first film to be such a hit.
“We were all pleasantly surprised,” he says in his husky tones, nodding thoughtfully. Since his first big screen role playing Jesus Christ in Pilgrim’s Progress in 1977, Neeson has had a prolific acting career, making more than 70 films - six in the last year alone.
Tragically widowed when wife Natasha Richardson was killed in a skiing accident in 2009, the actor was left to bring up their two young sons at their home in New York.
He also threw himself into work, but says it was the idea of a trip to Paris that first attracted him to Taken.
“There was something about the story that was dead simple, plus there was a chance to do all this physical stuff, which I loved doing, you know.
“And it was three months in Paris, which isn’t too shabby,” he adds, chuckling. Taken fans have been begging for a sequel ever since, but Neeson reveals it took time for him to come around to the idea.
“They proposed a couple of ideas a few years ago and I thought they were silly,” he admits, sighing.
Then he got the script set in Istanbul, with Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen returning more prominently as Bryan’s daughter and ex-wife, and Neeson was finally convinced.
After playing so many great men, Neeson is not sure what he’d next like to tackle. “For 10 seconds I was going to be Noah in Noah’s Ark. But Russell [Crowe] is playing that now.”
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