Liam Neeson, whose new movie "Five Minutes of Heaven" is based on the Troubles has said he will never get over the conflict which cost more than 3,000 lives in Northern Ireland.

"I never stop thinking about it," he said.

"I've known guys and girls who have been perpetrators of violence and victims. Protestants and Catholics. It's part of my DNA."

Neeson was speaking at the New York premier of "Five Minutes of Heaven" which is based on a real-life story.

Neeson plays Protestant Alastair Little, who, as a 17-year-old killed 19-year-old Catholic Jim Griffin in front of his younger brother Joe.

The murder takes place in 1975 and irrevocably changes the life of Joe, played by James Nesbitt.

The movie shows the two men meeting up 33 years later, a meeting which has not taken place so far in real life.

Neeson's character is tormented by the violence and hopes to find ways of preventing other teenage boys from making the same, fatal, mistake he did in getting involved with the paramilitaries.

This is the first time Neeson has made a film about the Troubles, which were just starting when he was growing up in Ballymena in Northern Ireland.

Neeson says that's because this is the first film which has honestly tried to explain the conflict.
"Most films about the Troubles have used it as a backdrop to a romantic story or some kind of entertainment," he said.

"But this apparently simple story does encapsulate over 30 years of violence.

"It's the absolute essence of the truth and it shows the promise of potential afterwards."

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the start of the Troubles and Neeson, like so many other Irish people was unaware of the upheaval taking place in the North until Bloody Sunday happened on January 30, 1972.

Thirteen unarmed civilians were killed in Derry by a British paratrooper regiment - while another died from his wounds five months later.

Neeson said he suddenly woke up to a new reality .

“I went into my morning classes and was surprised to find them largely empty. Only two or three other students in my physics lecture hall. Leaving the building after class and walking back to the halls of residence, I was surrounded by a throng of about a hundred angry students who shouted at me, called me a scab. They were protesting against the Bloody Sunday killings, which had happened the day before, and were staging a university-wide strike.

"I had been totally unaware of the events the day before, totally unaware of the students’ strike, and almost totally unaware of the larger grim struggle that was going on in Ireland.

‘It was an experience that shook me deeply, in complicated ways. But the message I took then was, 'Boy, you’ve got to wake up. Get moving. You’ve got to get going.'

"It came to me maybe with more of a short, sharp shock than it does to most,” he said