Action fans have become very familiar with Liam Neeson’s distinctively grizzled voice over the past few years, thanks to his transition from serious dramas like Schindler’s List and Kinsey to thriller fare including Taken, Unknown and Non-Stop. The actor has built a solid reputation for playing resourceful tough guys, though it’s more common to find him playing the hero than the villain. However, after weeks of being courted by Focus Features, Neeson has agreed to lend his growl to the titular monster in Juan Antonio Bayona’s upcoming dark fantasy, A Monster Calls.
The film, based on a book by Patrick Ness (which in turn was based on an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd), will center on a young boy who is crumbling under the combined pressure of being bullied at school and his mother falling gravely ill. In an attempt to distance himself from both situations, the boy escapes into a fantastical world filled with monsters and fairy tales. When an ancient monster follows the boy home and begins to appear outside his bedroom window at night, he begins an exchange of stories with it. What he doesn’t realize at first is that the exchange may have devastating consequences for them both.
Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) signed on last month to play the mother, and the lead role is still uncast. Bayona, who previously directed ghost story The Orphanage and tsunami survival drama The Impossible, plans to shoot the film this September for an already-scheduled release date in October of 2016.
I’m excited to see Neeson take on the part of the monster. It’s currently unclear whether he’ll be performing through motion-capture or simply voicing a CGI creation, but the actor has proven that he has the ability to take on grim, menacing roles in such films as Batman Begins and After.Life. Given how aggressively the studio went after Neeson, I’m expecting that he’ll be a perfect fit for the part. With the involvement of Bayona, Jones and now Neeson, A Monster Calls is quickly shaping up into a potential must-see.