We all know that Liam Neeson has a very particular set of skills, but did we know that he used to frequent sparsely-attended funerals with his grandfather as a kid in Northern Ireland? Now we do.
In a lengthy Q&A for the April issue of GQ, Neeson goes deep about his mom, his late wife Natasha Richardson, why he took “Taken” and, yes, going to funerals. As he said, those early sojourns with his grandfather taught him that “everybody matters. Everybody.”
Not that it’s all heavy stuff: Neeson admits that his initial impression of 2008’s hit movie, “Taken,” was that “it would go straight to video” and that he was “stunned” by its success. Ahead, six more things we learned from Neeson’s chat with the magazine.
He Doesn’t Believe In Abs
Neeson said that at the age of 61, he’s not going for a Lautner-esque physique while preparing for movies.
“I train a lot,” he said. “I don’t try and do all this washboard-abs stuff. That’s not real. I take bits and bobs from everywhere to train. Kettlebells. Power walks. Heavy bag. It’s about stamina.”
He Got Marital Advice From Mia Farrow
After shooting Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives,” the film during which “that all started” — the scandal between Allen and then-wife Mia Farrow that continues on to this day — Neeson and his wife became friends with Farrow, who doled out her wisdom on marriage.
“Mia was doing a film with Natasha in Ireland,” he said. “She’s lovely. We had a couple of Guinnesses one night, and I told her I was going to marry this woman, and Mia gives this talk about pillars of wisdom: There are certain pillars of wisdom she’d stick to and never veer from. It was quite a beautiful thing about what it is to love someone, respect them, be with them through thick and thin. It was fantastic.”
He Subscribes To The “Uphill, Both Ways” Model Of Living
Neeson said that he learned from his mother to stick to work, even if it’s not a dream job.
“Definitely stamina, definitely stick at something,” Neeson said of lessons from his now 88-year-old mother. “She was an assistant cook at a girls’ convent school for 34 years, and she’s still alive because she walked to work a mile — there and back, all weathers. And coming back, she’d be carrying leftover food that we’d be fed — stuff that would be going to waste, you know? So that’s sort of a lesson: You don’t stick at the job because you loved it; you have to.”
He Used To Be A Pinot Guy
“Well, I was just — I was drinking too much,” Neeson admitted to his interviewer. “It started since my wife died. It was like, so easy to just … Never at work, never would do it like that, but this time of night? Sitting with you, I’d easily have — I’d be on my second bottle. Before we finished, I would have been halfway down a third — and be totally fine! Pinot Noir: That’s all I drink. I was never into spirits or liquor, hard liquor.”
Even Liam Neeson Can Get A Beer Gut
He is a dad, after all. “I gave up the Guinness years ago, because it just — past an age, it sticks to you, you know?”
A “Thunderbolt Moment” Made Him Pass On Spielberg’s “Lincoln”
Neeson was originally cast as Honest Abe in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” but after years of research and preparation, he told the director that the role needed to be recast. Neeson recalled a moment from a reading few months after his wife died in a skiing accident, when he realized he couldn’t take the part:
“We started reading this, and there was an intro, and then I see ’Lincoln,’ where I have to start speaking, and I just — a thunderbolt moment. I thought, ’I’m not supposed to be here. This is gone. I’ve passed my sell-by date. I don’t want to play this Lincoln. I can’t be him.'”
“It was a very strange feeling, and it was partly grief,” he said of reading the script with the cast and feeling “no connection.” “I read very, very poorly by any standards, but then some people come up afterward and say, ’Oh, you’re made to play Lincoln.’ I just was cringing with embarrassment.”