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Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson.jpg

Miami Vice Character
June 7, 1952, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK
Natasha Richardson (1994-2009, her death), 2 sons

William John "Liam" Neeson, OBE (born June 7, 1952) is an Irish actor, who became a U.S. citizen in 2009, best remembered for his roles in Schindler's List, Michael Collins, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Early life

Neeson was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the only son of Katherine "Kitty" Brown, a cook, and Bernard "Barney" Neeson, a caretaker at the local Catholic girls' primary school. He was called Liam, Irish for William, after the local priest. He was the third child in the family and the only boy among four siblings; his sisters are Elizabeth, Bernadette and Rosaline. He began acting at age 11 in a school play, and continued acting in school productions until his graduation. He then enrolled at Queen's University Belfast in 1971, majoring in Physics and Computer Science. His interest in acting and decision to become an actor was also influenced by Ian Paisley, whose church Neeson would sneak into.

After leaving the university, he returned to his hometown and worked odd jobs and also at a college in Newcastle for two years. His first film was 1978's Pilgrim's Progress, playing Jesus Christ. He also appeared in 1981's Excalibur after being seen in a play by the film's producer, John Boorman. Neeson moved to Dublin, then to London, and appeared in 1983's Krull, and 1984's The Bounty. He would appear to American TV audiences for the first time in 1985's miniseries Ellis Island, which featured his future wife, Natasha Richardson. He then moved to Los Angeles to get into more movies.

Miami Vice

In 1986, Neeson was cast as Sean Carroon, an IRA terrorist masquerading as a pacifist plotting to bring down the Concorde in the third season opener "When Irish Eyes Are Crying". This was one of his last TV appearances, as his movie career continued to pick up steam.

After Vice

Neeson would appear in 1987's A Prayer For The Dying, where he played a character similar to his Vice persona. He would also appear in Suspect, The Dead Pool (with Shawn Elliott) and Satisfaction (with Julia Roberts) before what is considered his breakout role as the lead in Darkman, which was followed up by his Oscar-nominated lead role as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List. His Oscar-nominated role led to more lead roles in the movies Rob Roy, Michael Collins, and Nell.

Star Wars Prequels

In 1999, George Lucas cast him as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in the prequel movie Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He appeared (voice only) in Episode II: Attack Of The Clones and was scheduled to appear in the final prequel movie Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith as Qui-Gon in Force Ghost form, but due to Neeson suffering an injury from a motorcycle accident, he was unable to appear. He reprised his role as Qui-Gon Jinn as a voice of the Jedi past in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

2000s and Beyond

Neeson accepted roles in the movies K9: The Widowmaker, Love Actually, Kinsey (with Oliver Platt and Veronica Cartwright), Batman Begins, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (voice role) and his biggest recent hit, Taken and its' two sequels Taken 2 and Taken 3 (with Xander Berkeley). He returned to television in 2005 in a voice role in The Simpsons. His more recent movie appearances were in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as Col. Hannibal Smith in a remake of the classic 80s TV show The A-Team (which also aired on NBC during Vice's run), Wrath of the Titans, Battleship, The Grey, The Dark Knight Rises (with Tomas Arana), and Widows (with Colin Farrell). Neeson's most recent TV roles were in a 2010 episode of The Big C (with Oliver Platt), reprising his role of Qui-Gon Jinn in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and cameo appearances in The Family Guy.

Personal life

Neeson has three sisters, Elizabeth, Bernadette and Rosaline. He was married to actress Natasha Richardson from July 3, 1994, until her death on March 18, 2009, when Richardson suffered a severe head injury in a skiing accident at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada; close friend and fellow Irishman (and Miami Vice film actor) Ciarán Hinds attended the funeral and acted as a pallbearer. Richardson and Neeson have two sons: Micheál (born 1995) and Daniel (born 1997). Neeson lives in Millbrook, New York, on an estate that was expanded in August 2004 by 16 acres. He is a practicing Catholic and raised his sons in the Catholic faith. He was named an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.