Liam Neeson Explains Why He Was Taken With His 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' Role

He had a particular set of skills that made him just right for the part.

By Charles Webb

Liam Neeson has played a host of dangerous and troubled men in the past - but what keeps the "A Walk Among The Tombstones" actor coming back? Speaking with MTV News during a recent Los Angeles junket for the film, Neeson explained just that.

"I've always had a fascination for those iconic kind of screen characters," Neeson said when asked about the appeal of men like Matt Scudder, his character in the movie. "They have a very deep, murky, complex past, and they operate on just the right side of the law."

That's a pretty accurate description of Scudder, a former member of the New York Police Department now making ends meet as an unlicensed private detective. The character has appeared in well over a dozen of author Lawrence Block's novels, but is making his big screen debut thanks to Neeson and director Scott Frank.

In the film, Scudder helps a drug trafficker - Kenny (Dan Stevens, "Downtown Abbey") - whose wife has been taken by a pair of sadistic kidnapper/extortionists. Stevens said some viewers might see him as "an unexpected choice" for the role given his clean-cut image on the BBC series "Downton Abbey."

"That's what I'm exploring at the moment," Stevens said. "Exploring different avenues, different realms. [Scott Frank] wanted to see me in a different light, play a different kind of role I've had the chance to play before."

So what brings a former cop and a drug runner together? Neeson acknowledged that Scudder is able and willing to operate outside of the system to get things done, and in fact it's why Scudder takes this particular case.

"He realized that the enemy that he was up against had to be fought and taken out of society," Neeson explained. "The crimes that they were committing were just so horrendous."

Stevens finds another reason for the two characters to connect: "[My character] and a number of other characters in the film have made a series of bad life decisions and it leads them down a particular road."

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" is now in theaters.