Liam Neeson is an actor who needs no introduction, playing anything from a God, to a Jedi, to Batman’s teacher. Currently, you can catch him reprising the role of loving father/military genius Bryan Mills for Olivier Megaton‘s Taken 2.
Following the events of Pierre Morel’s smash hit Taken, Bryan Mills is now the one being hunted, as a group of vengeful Albanians seek reparations for the 27 lives Mills took while searching for his kidnapped daughter Kim. Stuck in Istanbul, it’s up to Bryan Mills to save his family and defeat the baddies, which is just another day at the office.
Recently, we were able to sit down with Liam while he was in New York promoting the film. The actor spoke about why he signed on for a sequel, his success as an action star, some of the stunts in the film and more.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: What about Taken made you come back for another round?
Liam Neeson: I loved the first film. I thought it was a really compact, tight little European thriller with a great beginning, a fantastic middle, and a very pleasurable end. When Luc Besson approached me a few years ago [for Taken 2], I thought “Oh c’mon Luc, you can’t, what can you do?” He said “Nah, leave it with us, we’re thinking of something.”
So, a couple of years ago I think then, they had the script and they said “in Istanbul” and I thought “Ok, that’s certainly one city I’d love to see,” and they came up with a storyline and I thought “Yeah, maybe this will work, you know?” Especially to start a movie with [a burial]. My character kills 27 Albanians in the first one, all these bad guys, but these guys are human being with families, and uncles, and fathers, so it’s great to start the movie with a burial. The wonderful Rade [Serbedzija], a Croatian actor, you know with this dirt, this grieving father, his son died horribly at my hands, pledging revenge. It’s a wonderful kick off to a movie.”
We Got This Covered: What surprised you the most about working in Istanbul, especially under the circumstances of working there and also maybe seeing some the sights in your free time?
Liam Neeson: Well, I’ve read so much about Constantinople, as it used to be, from when I was doing Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, because it is the gateway from the west to the east. There’s so many generations of conquests and you see it in the streets there, you see it in the foundation stones laid there not only by Romans, but generations thousands of years ago, so it’s such a rich, incredible, historical culture, and you feel it, and I think it adds something to your film.
It gives it a texture, like all those car chases we were doing and stuff, you know? Yes we had a police presence, but the shopkeepers and merchants on these tiny narrow streets said “no, no, you shoot your film, but we’re keeping our shops open.” So you’ve got customers crossing streets all the time, they weren’t extras, and we’re barreling up the streets, seeing these vans at reckless speeds. They were wonderful, they were happy we were shooting in their streets, but they were keeping their shops open.
We Got This Covered: You’ve basically become an action star since Taken, you’ve done a lot of action roles. Are you a little surprised at the success you’ve had in the genre? Are you thoroughly enjoying playing these tough characters?
Liam Neeson: Oh sure, yeah, terrific. We were all really surprised by the success of Taken, and I had just came back from South Korea after the first one – amazing. I felt like one of the Beatles! They were all kids, these 16 to 20-year-old kids, boys and girls, going crazy, they couldn’t wait to see Taken 2.
Anyway, so yes, after South Korea and the first one, I remember my nephews in Ireland calling me and saying “Liam, we saw your movie,” and I’m like “Which one?” They say “Taken,” and I say “It hasn’t come out yet, it’s [only] come out in France and South Korean.” “Oh, well, we can download it,” and I’m like “F*ck it, that’s the end of that, the movie is done,” but then Fox took it in this country and did a brilliant PR job, brilliant.
We Got This Covered: It was number one for weeks, wasn’t it?
Liam Neeson: It was strange. It was number one, then it slipped to number two, then it went to number three, then it went to number two again, it was hovering all over the place for a while. It just got good word of mouth I guess.
We Got This Covered: It’s also one of those films where if you see it on TV, you’re going to stop and watch at least a few minutes.
Liam Neeson: I do love the compactness of it. I’ve checked it a couple of times myself, and I find myself suddenly half an hour later into it.
We Got This Covered: What about the dead-faced persona you did for the Ricky Gervais sketch, because that’s something we’d love to see developed into a film.
Liam Neeson: [laughs] Oh I don’t know, unless Ricky and Stephen wrote something. But that was fun to do, it was good. I am a terrible corpser, and if you don’t know what corpser means, you laugh a lot, but when we were shooting this thing, they were laughing more than I was, which gave me confidence. Apparently the more serious you are the funnier it is.
We Got This Covered: With the dialogue they gave you for that, was there any second guessing?
Liam Neeson: Oh, I didn’t change one semicolon in that script. It was all their writing.
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