Liam Neeson Early Life

Liam was born in Ballymena to Katherine “Kitty” Neeson (née Brown), who was a cook, and Bernard “Barney” Neeson, a caretaker at the Ballymena Boys All Saints Primary School.

The famous actor who was raised as a  Roman Catholic was named Liam after the local priest. From a family of four, Liam is the third born with the three others being females.

Liam lived cautious life having grown up as a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant town, which made him feel like a “second-class” citizen there, but not “inferior or even different” at the town’s predominantly Protestant technical college.

Liam, who was not abreast of the politics and history of Northern Ireland until becoming aware of protests by fellow students after Bloody Sunday in 1972, during the Troubles got encouraged to learn more about local history. 

He began training as a boxer at the age of nine at the All Saints Youth Club. He proceeded to win some regional titles before stopping at age 17 and picked interest in acting.

His career would start in school productions, having been influenced by Ian Paisley, founder of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). He usually sneaked into the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster to watch Ian perform.

He later enrolled in 1971 as a physics and computer science student at Queen’s University Belfast, and later left to work for the Guinness Brewery.

He also discovered that he has football talent at Queen’s and was spotted by Seán Thomas at Bohemian FC. At a club trial in Dublin, Liam was introduced in a game as a substitute against Shamrock Rovers FC but was not offered a contract.

Liam Neeson Career

After leaving university, Liam was involved in various casual jobs and attended teacher training college for two years in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Liam began acting fully in 1976 by joining the Lyric Players’ Theatre in Belfast.

After performing with the group for two years, he got to be involved in the real deal in 1977, playing Jesus Christ and Evangelist in the religious film Pilgrim’s Progress (1978).

He then moved to Dublin in 1978 after he was offered a part in Ron Hutchinson’s Says I, Says He, a drama about The Troubles, at the Project Arts Centre. He proceeded to act in several other Project productions and joined the Abbey Theatre (the National Theatre of Ireland).

Down the line he performed alongside Stephen Rea, Ray McAnally, and Mick Lally, playing Doalty in Brian Friel’s play Translations in 1980, and was later offered a role by filmmaker John Boorman, who saw him playing Lennie Small on stage in Of Mice and Men and offered him the role of Sir Gawain in the Arthurian film, Excalibur.

His stage performance continued after moving to London, and also acted in low-budget films, and television. His popularity continued to grow between 1982 and 1987, when he starred in five films, alongside Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in 1984’s The Bounty and Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in 1986’s The Mission.

In the same year, Liam featured as a guest actor in the third season of the television series Miami Vice in 1986 and moved to Hollywood a year later and starred in more high-profile roles.

As his stock continued to rise, he joined Ellis Island co-star, and future wife Natasha Richardson in the Broadway play Anna Christie in 1993, they also worked together in Nell, released the following year.

Liam will never forget his rise to prominence when director Steven Spielberg offered him the role of Oskar Schindler in his film about the HolocaustSchindler’s List.

He was rewarded with a nomination for a Best Actor Oscar over his critically acclaimed performance and helped the film earn Best Picture of 1993.

He also got nominations for BAFTA and Golden Globes for his performance as Schindler. This made him an in-demand leading actor. He subsequently starred in period pieces Rob Roy (1995) and Michael Collins (1996), which earned him a win for Best Starring Role at the Venice Film Festival and another Golden Globe nomination.

His Mainstream roles began in 2001 when he narrated the 2001 documentaries, Journey into Amazing Caves, and The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Adventure, which won awards at some film festivals.

Another notable project he starred in after getting a nomination for a Tony Award for his role opposite Laura Linney in The Crucible, is Harrison Ford in Kathryn Bigelow‘s 2002 submarine thriller K-19: The Widowmaker where he played the role of Captain Mikhail Polenin.

Other notable projects he participated in include Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Love, KinseyThe Aviator,  Kingdom of HeavenRa’s al Ghul, Batman Begins;  Breakfast on Pluto, American Civil War epic Seraphim Falls, Taken, Clash of the Titans, Chloe, Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night, The Commuter,  Lincoln, The Grey, War of the Worlds, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Trilogy among others.

He also voiced and acted in The Simpsons episode “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star,” The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Fallout 3, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) among others.

Liam Neeson also appeared as a guest star on the new Showtime series The Big C. He would later play himself in BBC2’s series Life’s Too Short in 2011.

 Liam Neeson’s Controversies

He is also a gun control activist who is opposed to the unrestricted right to own firearms in the United States. Having made calls for gun control, Liam, in January 2015, repeated his views, calling US gun laws a “disgrace” in an interview with the Emirati newspaper Gulf News while reacting to the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.

He also joined voices in protesting against the anti-carriage horse campaign of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in 2014. In an opinion page published in The New York Times, Liam cited the carriage trade as a safe one for employees, horses, and tourists and noted it was a livelihood for many immigrants.

He also partnered with Amnesty International when he narrated a video in favor of the legalization of abortion in Ireland, which was criticized by some conservative and pro-life commentators.

He also compared Donald Trump’s presidency to the Watergate scandal of Richard Nixon, saying the president is not above the law and has to be accountable.

When the  Me Too movement was trending, Liam in January 2018, raised concerns on Ireland’s The Late Late Show, describing the movement as a “witch hunt,” and citing Garrison Keillor‘s sack from Minnesota Public Radio.

He was accused in February 2019 of racism after a press junket interview he had conducted with The Independent while promoting his film Cold Pursuit.

Why denying being a racist, Laim on Good Morning America, said the incident occurred nearly 40 years ago, and that he asked for physical attributes of the rapist other than race.

He was later defended by Trevor Noah, Michelle Rodriguez, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ralph Fiennes.

 Personal life

Liam met the actress Helen Mirren who he met during the early 1980s while working on Excalibur (1981). According to him, Mirren was instrumental in getting him an agent. They lived together for some time.

He eventually married an actress Natasha Richardson, whom he met while they were performing in a revival of the play Anna Christie on Broadway in 1993. They tied the knot on July 3, 1994, and have two sons together.

They also won £50,000 ($85,370) in libel damages after the Daily Mirror wrongly claimed that their marriage was suffering and donated the money to victims of the August 1998 Omagh bombing.

The couple purchased an estate in Millbrook, New York, in August 2004. Richardson died on March 18, 2009, after suffering a severe head injury in a skiing accident at the Mont Tremblant Resort, northwest of Montreal.

Liam who holds British, Irish, and American citizenship, was in 2009, nearly four decades after he was an undergraduate in physics and computer science at Queen’s University, Belfast, awarded an honorary doctorate.

Two years later, UNICEF appointed him as its Goodwill Ambassador. He is also is a patron of the Belfast-based charity and film festival CineMagic, whose aim is to encourage and help young people to get involved in the movie industry.

Having been a heavy smoker earlier in his career, he quit smoking in 2003 while working on Love Actually. Being an ex-smoker, he had his reservation about smoking cigars (a signature trait of the character in the 2010 film adaptation of The A-Team) but agreed to keep that trait intact.

His media aide in 2012  denied reports that he was converting to Islam after expressing affection for the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, that he grew accustomed to while filming Taken 2 in Istanbul.

Honours and Awards

Liam was offered the “Freedom of the Town of Ballymena” by the Ballymena Borough Council in 2000 but declined it due to objections made by members of the Democratic Unionist Party over ‘second-class citizen’ comments while growing up as a Catholic in the town.

However, in 2013, he received the Freedom of the Borough from Ballymena Borough Council at a ceremony in the town.

He was also appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in her 2000 New Year Honours, and The American Ireland Fund honored him with their Performing Arts Award at their 2008 Dinner Gala in New York City.

At a ceremony in New York in 2009, Liam was awarded an honorary doctorate by Queen’s University, Belfast.  He was also honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) at the Mansion House, Dublin, on April 9, 2016, with Irish President Michael D. Higgins presenting the award.

Liam got listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 74 in the list of 200 Most Influential Philanthropists and Social Entrepreneurs Worldwide in 2017 and was awarded the Distinguished Service for the Irish Abroad Award in January 2018 by Irish President Michael D. Higgins.

Liam Neeson Net Worth

Liam Neeson net worth is estimated at about $145m. He is one of the richest actors in Hollywood and his biggest paycheck was the $20 million he earned for Taken 3. The Taken Trilogy has contributed immensely to his fortune as he earned a total of $40 million from the franchise. He was paid $5 million for Taken 1 and $15 million for Taken 2.