OUR MAN IN WASHINGTON
THIS IS AN ACTOR’S worst nightmare,” Liam Neeson quipped after easing, undetected, into a room full of waiting journalists at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – no small feat (or feet) given the 65-year-old stands about 6-3. The Oscar-winner arrived to talk his Watergate-era biopic, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, in which he plays the titular hero, an informant better known as “Deep Throat.”
What was your initial reaction to the Mark Felt script? LIAM NEESON: I was reasonably ignorant of [Watergate]. I grew up in Ireland and we were going through our own troubles then. And then I thought of four different actors who could have been better cast as Mark Felt. I always do that anyway on every project. I think [writer/director] Peter Landesman saw nobility in the character, and I thought, “Well yeah, I could do that.” There are obvious parallels between Watergate and the current presidential administration. Could one man bring down the White House today? LN: We know there was collusion with this [Trump] campaign and Russia. Whether the Twittering Chief was part of that or not, [special counsel Robert] Mueller will find out … Apparently the Twittering Chief demands absolute loyalty, and that was very much the same with Richard Nixon. And Mr. Trump sees the press as the enemy, and Richard Nixon did, too. It’s very scary. You noted you often think of other actors who could have been better cast in your roles. Are there certain types of characters you’d prefer to play? LN: I get off on good writing. It always has to come down to the written word. I’ve had a chance to binge-watch some of these amazing shows, and the writing is fantastic on TV now. Would you consider doing a TV series? LN: [Mock sneers] “Television, darling?” That’s how the old Hollywood stars used to go. Joan Crawford was, “You’re doing television?” I would, of course. There’s a wonderful writer, Douglas McGrath, who’s written a pilot to … the story of Abraham Lincoln and his years in the White House that I’m very tempted by. As much as I adored Steven [Spielberg’s] film [ Lincoln] and Daniel [Day-Lewis’] performance [a part Neeson walked away from], it just told one little snippet of them trying to pass the 13th Amendment. America doesn’t know the Abraham Lincoln story, what that guy went through … to defend the idea of democracy and that it can work. And then the timing would be right for it. If you had to put a film from your career in a time capsule, which would you choose? LN: I’d say Michael Collins is my top, and Steven [Spielberg] made a wonderful film with Schindler’s List. I would have recast Schindler, but I think he made a wonderful film. —Mike Crisolago
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House opens in select Canadian cities throughout October.
For the full interview with Liam Neeson, go to www.every thing zoomer.com/ zoom-in-extras.