The acclaimed Northern Irish actor is mostly known for his somber, emotionally powerful roles like Oskar Schindler in "Schindler’s List" and for his more recent renaissance as an action hero in films such as "Taken." Off screen, though, Neeson seems to be a down to earth and quite a funny guy.
Born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, Neeson worked as a truck driver, a Guinness forklift operator, and an amateur boxer before he took over the movie industry and became the sixth highest paid actor in Hollywood.
Here’s a list of his top ten quotes, ranging from his life as a child during the Troubles in Northern Ireland to his silly on-screen relationship with Ralph Fiennes.
1. “Some mornings you wake up and think, ‘Gee, I look handsome today.’ Other days I think, 'What am I doing in the movies? I wanna go back to Ireland and drive a forklift.'”
2. “I think I realized there were two communities in Northern Ireland when I was about nine or 10, not because there was any trouble but because in certain years my parents would keep us indoors on the 12th of July. I couldn't figure that out because all my mates were out dancing in the streets and I wanted to go out and join them. So it was then that I sensed a ‘them and us’ attitude.”
3. [on “Nell”] “I was a bit disappointed in the film. I felt it should have been rougher and cruder and darker and colder. There was too much of a glow surrounding the movie. I thought Jodie [Foster] was very good, but, I mean, that house she lived in, that was, like, something out of 'Swiss Family Robinson!' There should have been plastic chairs and windows with bits of newspaper stuck in them to stop the draft.”
4. “I grew up in Northern Ireland, of course. Lived all through the Troubles; saw violence, the results of violence, at first hand. It's always terrified me and fascinated me. So it was a gut reaction, something about how that rage can eat you alive. I can understand that. I haven't known it myself, but I knew guys who did. Some of them aren't on this planet anymore because of it.”
5. [on working with Ralph Fiennes] “On ‘Clash of the Titans’ we found it hard to act with each other. So I would look at his forehead and he would look at my forehead, because sometimes if we made eye contact, it got quite silly. We were more restrained on ‘Wrath of the Titans’ because we had deeper, darker issues to act.”
6. [on losing the role of "Lincoln"] “I don't feel sad about it, and I have no regrets whatsoever. There comes a point where you think, 'I'm past my sell-by date,’ and I passed that about three years ago. It's just like a light switch went off in my head: it just wasn't for me anymore. I'd lived with it too long and there was a process happening: Steven [Steven Spielberg] would do something else or I would do something else and it was like, 'Okay, let's cut this loose.' They got one of the best actors to do it, you know, in Daniel Day-Lewis.”
7. “I never did think of myself as handsome--terribly attractive, yes, but not handsome.”
8. [on "Schindler's List"] “I did a lot of research, but I found it was best not to do too much because I was playing a guy who lived in 1942, '43. If I'd read all the Holocaust literature, it would have played into my performance. Ignorance was bliss, certainly for Schindler.”
9. [on working with Julia Roberts in "Michael Collins"] “I was surprised at first [when she was cast]. I thought, surely there's an actress in Ireland who can [play the role]; Neil [Jordan] doesn't need this star power. I thought maybe he was going to shoot himself in the foot. But she was very committed to doing it. I thought she was terribly good and I was very proud of her.”
10. [on "The A-Team"] “I watched it about two months ago and I found it a little confusing and I was in the thing. I just couldn't figure out who was who and what's been done to him and why, a little bit. I mean, my kids totally understood it and got it. I don't know. It's a toss of the coin, sometimes, with these things. I thought it was a great ride and Joe [Carnahan] had done a great job. I thought it was cast well. But there you go - you never know.”
* Originally published in 2014.