William John Neeson OBE was born on June 7, 1952. He is a Northern Irish actor. He’s been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
William John Neeson, the son of cook Katherine “Kitty” Neeson (née Brown) and primary school caretaker Bernard “Barney” Neeson, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim. He was raised as a Catholic and was given the moniker “Liam” after the local priest.
He has three sisters, Elizabeth, Bernadette, and Rosaleen, and is the third of four siblings. From 1963 to 1967, he was a student at St Patrick’s College in Ballymena, where he developed an interest in play.
Liam Neeson – Early life
Growing up as a Catholic in a mainly Protestant town made Liam Neeson cautious, and he has said he felt like a “second-class citizen” there, but he has also stated that he was never made to feel “inferior or even different” in the town’s predominantly Protestant technical college.
He has described himself as “out of touch” with Northern Ireland politics and history until he became aware of student protests following Bloody Sunday, a massacre that occurred in Derry in 1972 during the Troubles.
That event inspired him to explore more about the history of the area. “I never stop thinking about [the Troubles],” he said in a 2009 interview.
I’ve met men and women who have been both perpetrators and victims of violence. Catholics and Protestants. It runs through my veins.” Neeson began boxing lessons at the All Saints Youth Club at the age of nine and went on to win a number of provincial titles before retiring at the age of seventeen. He was a part of school plays during his adolescence.
Ian Paisley, the founder of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who he would sneak into the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, encouraged his interest in acting and determination to become an actor. He commented, “It was wonderful to watch him just Bible-thumping away… it was acting, but it was great acting and stirring.”
Before departing to work for the Guinness Brewery, he enrolled in physics and computer science study at Queen’s University Belfast in 1971.
He discovered a talent for football at Queen’s and was noticed by Seán Thomas of Bohemian FC. Neeson played one game as a substitute against Shamrock Rovers FC during a club trial in Dublin but was not granted a contract.
Liam Neeson – Early Career
Neeson returned to Ballymena after graduating from university and worked in several part-time jobs, including forklift operator at Guinness and truck driver. He also spent two years at a teacher training college in Newcastle upon Tyne before returning to his hometown.
He joined Belfast’s Lyric Players’ Theatre in 1976 and performed there for two years.
In 1977, he made his film debut as Jesus Christ and an Evangelist in the religious movie Pilgrim’s Progress (1978). After being offered a part in Ron Hutchinson’s Says I, Says He, a drama on The Troubles at the Project Arts Centre, Neeson relocated to Dublin in 1978.
He went on to perform in several other Project shows before joining the Abbey Theatre (the National Theatre of Ireland).
He played Doalty in Brian Friel’s play Translations, the first production of Friel’s and Rea’s Field Day Theatre Company, which premiered in the Guildhall in Derry on September 23, 1980, starring Stephen Rea, Ray McAnally, and Mick Lally.
Liam Neeson – Activism
Neeson opposes the unrestricted freedom to own firearms in the United States and has advocated for gun regulation. In an interview with Emirati publication Gulf News in January 2015, he reiterated his views, calling US gun laws a “disgrace” in response to a question about the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier that month.
In 2014, Neeson spoke out against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s anti-carriage horse campaign, saying that if elected, he would ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park.
He penned an opinion piece for The New York Times in which he defended the carriage trade as a safe environment for employees, horses, and tourists, as well as a source of income for many immigrants.
Some conservative and anti critics accused Neeson of being “anti-Catholic” when he narrated a film for Amnesty International in support of abortion legalization in Ireland. Neeson was a vocal opponent of Brexit, saying in 2016 that it would be “a shame” to “sacrifice all of the progress that the peace process has made regarding border controls.”
In September 2017, Neeson compared Donald Trump’s presidency to Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal: “Democracy works, and no one is above the law, including the president. He must take responsibility for his actions.”
Liam Neeson – Personal life
During the early 1980s, Liam Neeson shared a home with Helen Mirren, an actress. On the set of Excalibur, they met (1981).. In an interview with James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio, Neeson revealed that Mirren helped him find an agent.
In 1993, Neeson met actress Natasha Richardson while playing on Broadway in a performance of the drama Anna Christie. They married on July 3, 1994, and they have two boys.
Neeson is a dual citizen of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, having naturalized as an American citizen in 2009. Neeson’s ancestry is largely Irish.
Neeson received an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 2009, nearly four decades after he was a physics and computer science, undergraduate. Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson handed it to him in New York. He was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in March 2011.
Neeson’s representative rejected rumors that he was converting to Islam in June 2012. Neeson has stated his love for the adhan, or Islamic call to prayer, which he became familiar with while filming Taken 2 in Istanbul: “It seemed like if I couldn’t live without it by the third week.
For me, it became hypnotic and deeply moving uniquely. It’s amazing.”
His appreciation for Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises was also highlighted. Kitty Neeson, Neeson’s mother, died in June 2020, but because to travel limitations imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic, he was unable to attend her burial.
Liam Neeson – Awards and honors
In her 2000 New Year Honours, Queen Elizabeth II named Neeson an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). At their 2008 Dinner Gala in New York City, the American Ireland Fund honored Neeson with their Performing Arts Award for the immense distinction he has brought to Ireland.
In 2009, Neeson received an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University, Belfast, at a ceremony in New York. The Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) honored him with the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award on April 9, 2016, at the Mansion House in Dublin, with Irish President Michael D. Higgins delivering the award.
In 2017, Neeson was ranked 74th on Richtopia’s list of the 200 Most Influential Philanthropists and Social Entrepreneurs in the World. Irish President Michael D.
Higgins presented him with the Distinguished Service for the Irish Abroad Award in January 2018, describing it as an award “for Irish persons abroad who are contributing to mankind.”
He has genuine charisma, impressive talent, and versatility as an actor. Neeson was ranked seventh on The Irish Times’ list of Ireland’s 50 best cinema performers in 2020. Liam Neeson’s net worth is estimated to be at $145 million as of 2021, making him one of the wealthiest performers of all time.
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