Non- stop ac­tion for Liam

Un­likely ac­tion hero Liam Nee­son tells Neala John­son about main­tain­ing his tough guy per­sona

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Ooh, that could be dan­ger­ous.

SIX years ago, when Taken was re­leased, you said you loved the phys­i­cal­ity of it and thought you might squeeze in one more ac­tion film be­fore you got too old. As it turns out, you’ve squeezed in quite a few more!

We’ve done one or two, it’s true. I don’t know what to say. Hol­ly­wood seems to have found an­other slot for me. They’re throw­ing ac­tion scripts my way and I read them and see the hero is 33- 34 years of age, then when I raise an ob­jec­tion and say, “You’ve sent it to the wrong ac­tor,” the script comes back and the hero is in his 50s ( laughs). So the magic of Hol­ly­wood, it changes.

What’s keep­ing you in­ter­ested in that kind of film?

I still see them all as dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. I know they’re brack­eted un­der “ac­tion hero” or what­not, but they’re all dif­fer­ent to me. Cer­tainly with this new one, Non- Stop, it’s a much more in­ter­est­ing guy be­cause he’s an al­co­holic, he’s tak­ing lit­er­ally one day at a time, some­times one hour at a time. That’s more in­ter­est­ing to play than the su­per- clean su­per­hero – that’s bor­ing, let’s face it.

How’s your body cop­ing with all this ac­tion?

The body’s hold­ing up. I’ve se­ri­ously gone back to the gym again. I hit a wall af­ter the first Taken, Taken, I couldn’t face a gym­na­sium again, so I tried to al­ter my workout regime by power- walk­ing and stuff. Now I’ve got back into the gym again, so I’ve gone past the wall. But I’m cer­tainly not into the 1980s Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger look. I’m not a fan of that look at all. It’s just a bur­den to keep fairly phys­i­cally fit, you know, be­cause do­ing any film re­quires stamina, es­pe­cially if you’re play­ing the lead – you have to set an ex­am­ple, come to work on time, be ready and will­ing and able.

Speak­ing of stamina, ap­par­ently you re­cently ad­mit­ted to be­ing a mem­ber of the mile high club.

Why is it the press al­ways picks up on some­thing like that? I can tell you now, it’s to­tal bulls---. I don’t know where it came from.

Darn!

I’m be­ing very, very hon­est with you. I’ve never joined the mile high club. I’ve no de­sire to join it – I know the size of those toi­lets only too well ( laughs). No, no, that’s too much like hard work.

Maybe this is an­other case of some­one mis­tak­ing you for your mate Ralph Fi­ennes?

Oh, it could be ac­tu­ally ( laughs).

There’s an in­tense fight in one of those tiny aero­plane toi­lets in Non- Stop. What kind of prepa­ra­tion goes into a scene like that?

Quite a bit, be­cause it’s a very con­tained space. It was all shot out of se­quence, which meant that we had to re­ally have our act to­gether as re­gards to learn­ing that dance, which is ba­si­cally what a fight is. I was very for­tu­nate to have a pal of mine that I’ve worked with on a cou­ple of movies, who is ac­tively a spe­cial forces soldier and on his days off he trains air mar­shals. He helped us work on that fight. It is based on re­al­ity, it’s not go­ing into mar­tial arts mo­ments; they’re moves that you would do in a con­fined space to try and dis­arm a per­son.

When you started act­ing, did you har­bour any dreams to be the guy who saves the day?

Maybe as a kid. It was usu­ally al­ways west­erns I saw as a boy, back home in Ire­land, at the mati­nees on Satur­day. That’s the great thing about cinema at that age: you see these western heroes and they were like great mytho­log­i­cal gods. But when I be­came an ac­tor my wish ful­fil­ment would have been to be in the Na­tional The­atre of Great Bri­tain or maybe the Royal Shake­speare Com­pany, and that was it. I never thought I’d get into movies at all. I just didn’t see that was pos­si­ble in Ire­land, you know?

So when you look back at what you have man­aged to do, does it come down to luck or hard work?

It’s a bit of all that. I’ve done 65 films, I just can’t be­lieve that. Of course lady luck plays a huge part in it, of course it does. But at the same time, you create your own luck. And I cer­tainly did that. I al­ways tried to be poised and be ready for what­ever might come.

As a kid who loved west­erns, you must have lived out a fan­tasy with one of your other films com­ing up this year, A Mil­lion

Ways to Die in the West.

That was great. I’d done a western be­fore with Pierce Brosnan for Mel Gib­son’s com­pany, called Seraphim Falls, which we shot in Santa Fe about 10 years ago. So it was great to get a chance to a) go back to Santa Fe again and b) get in the sad­dle again ( laughs). And to have Char­l­ize Theron as my wife – my god, it doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.

Apart from sign­ing on for Taken 3, you’re also get­ting ready to make an­other film with Martin Scors­ese this year.

Yeah, we’re do­ing a film called Si­lence, about the Je­suits try­ing to bring Chris­tian­ity into Ja­pan in the 1600s. I’m about to start get­ting into the re­search for that, which is quite fas­ci­nat­ing.

That will put some dif­fer­ent mus­cles to use.

Flex­ing a few dif­fer­ent mus­cles, yup. Maybe I’ll have to go back into my Old Ir­ish Catholi­cism and flex those ones. I think you’re right, it could be. I bet­ter watch my­self!

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