Talk to Liam Neeson It is quite an emotional journey, since the actor projects in the same way on the screen as in a conversation in which we were able to address various topics. Although in recent years it has succeeded in movies revolving around action and revenge, we cannot forget his extraordinary works in productions of greater artistic significance, either interpreting Oskar Shchindler o al doctor Kinsey (iconic researcher of sexuality in the United States).
Not everyone can be, for example, Jean Valjean in The Miserables (1998) o Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars. The list of its characters is shocking and is not over. But something very important stands out, Neeson always fills the screen. Whether you’re threatening your daughter’s kidnappers over the phone or having a good time making voices on The Simpson. We connected with him to his home in Los Angeles.
How are you dealing with the pandemic?
I am dealing well, unlike millions of people in America who have lost jobs and don’t know where their next meal will come from, I am exceptionally well. I am in my own house, it is not mortgaged, I have some toys like my pool and the gym and a projection room, so I am very lucky.
Your new film, ‘The Honest Thief’ (‘Relentless Revenge’), hit the big screen in these times when so many others could not. What does this mean for you?
I am glad that in these moments that we live it can be projected on the big screen, and the fact is that it will also be on some IMAX screens. I am not one hundred percent convinced that it is material for IMAX, but it is good to know that the audience, obviously with the necessary social distance and all the measures, will be able to share the experience of being together and watching a tape. I think that is very important.
You have thought a lot about the subject of revenge. I suppose it is a cathartic issue, but why do you think people identify with your characters in these stories?
The guys that I play I feel like they’re slightly disturbed and people can connect with them. Certainly in The Honest Thief I think that my character had never experienced a woman’s love in his life, so (when he finds her) he decides to tell her what he has done and start over. It shows his vulnerability and I really like to see that in male performances on screen, rather than the emotionless superhero. I like vulnerable characters, that is very attractive to me.
This character is strong, brave, and has made many mistakes. Is that what he should be to you, if we didn’t have all these notions and stereotypes about him?
Yes. God knows we have too many stereotypes, and half of them come from the old cinema days, regarding how to present masculinity. The truth is that I am seeing other things in the services of streaming, my preference is the big screen, but I have seen some performances and development of the stories in the services of streaming where writers have the opportunity to write six hours or eight hours, where they can really develop the character well. I think actors, certainly the last ten or twelve years, have discovered that it is okay to show their feminine side, you know what I mean?
I find it attractive and enriches the character. Instead of just showing someone that they are stoic, they don’t show much emotion and are afraid to cry. I think it is part of humanity and it is part of the human species. We shouldn’t be afraid to explore that.
You’ve been a Jedi, you’ve been Schindler … you’ve done everything. So I wonder, is there some kind of character that makes you say, someday, someday I’ll do this?
Well yes, I like writers. I admire them so much. I don’t have a particular genre that makes me say, “Oh, I have to make a horror movie” or something. Just, if the script calls me … Look, I’m going to make a movie next year, God willing, in Canada, about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad across all of America, which was essentially built by the Irish and, very importantly, thousands and thousands of Chinese, who were treated abominably. It’s a very, very interesting story.
And we have a wonderful director named Jessica Wu who has done very good things on television. I’m very excited about it because, again, the story of that construction itself, from the east coast to the west coast, is incredible, it was a success. It is also about various characters who are Irish, how the Irish accept the Chinese and vice versa is certainly very attractive these days, when they are trying to make us all feel suspicious of other countries, of other cultures. It is deplorable. I hate it.
Our leaders, I will not use names, are apparently afraid to share and accept other cultures. We are doomed if we don’t learn to accept ourselves, and appreciate other cultures, differences, you know? That is what makes this world so extraordinary. But we don’t have enough leaders who are willing to fully accept that. They are afraid.
In these times journalists often have serious problems to be able to tell those stories every day …
They have to, I know many journalists have been horribly murdered in your beautiful country and it is outrageous. Completely outrageous. Particularly in Veracruz, where I filmed many years ago and loved being there, it was like two weeks. When I hear these stories of these journalists who kill because they “offended” either a cartel member or the government, who knows, it is simply outrageous. I try to follow closely what is happening in your country. So you keep doing what you’re doing, be it writing about movies or whatever. We have to find the truth.