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Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor were told not to make lightsaber noises on the set of ‘Star Wars’

Liam Neeson's set of skills are exactly what landed up 'Star Wars.'

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Liam Neeson was, is, and will always be a singular figure in the entertainment industry. Whether he’s saving his stolen daughter in Taken, training Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, or finding love in Love Actually — there’s no denying that the Irish actor and all-around badass is one of a kind.

During a recent stint on Conan O’Brien’s podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, Neeson sat down with O’Brien to discuss his career at length. Detailing the projects that made his career possible in the first place.

Of all the stories Liam Neeson has helped bring to life, his time spent in that galaxy far, far away seems to be the one that many folks continue to remember him for — with Neeson’s portrayal of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn being an especially compelling entry.

Liam Neeson seemed flattered when asked what it feels like to join the Star Wars mythos, even if he understands all too well how feverish the fandom can get at times.

“I mean it is a cult. There’s so many movies and spin-offs now, it’s diluting the whole thing. I think. That’s my personal thought. Occasionally there’s kids after a Star Wars autograph, and I don’t want to give autographs at the airport. Oh but it’s not the kid, it’s the grandfather, there he is. Or the dad. Horned-rimmed glasses and a beard. They become 11 year olds.”

It might be a bit confusing to hear Neeson say that parents and grandparents are his main Star Wars demographic, but everything makes perfect sense when you think about it.

The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, meaning that if you were 10 years old back then, you’re close to 35 years old right now. It stands to reason that the folks who would recognize him have finally grown up. Does anyone feel ancient yet?

Moreover, Neeson’s current assessment of the franchise at large isn’t half bad either. With the release of Ahsoka on Disney Plus, along with a slew of other series and spin-offs, Neeson’s correct in saying that the space saga is starting to dilute. Especially as critical reception wanes.

Liam mentions that there were moments when he and his Jedi co-star Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan) couldn’t help but do their own lightsaber sound effects — becoming kids themselves. How ironic.

“The first time we actually had to use the lightsaber to start a little fight, we both automatically (made the noises.)”

Lightsabers. Aliens. Space ships. Star Wars has it all. Not to mention that Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn had arguably the best head of hair in the galaxy. Neeson briefly discussed hours in the makeup chair and how one artist, in particular, told him that it wouldn’t really matter what anyone looked like anyway.

“I had this lovely makeup and hair lady, (she was) Scottish. I was supposed to being doing this scene with this little flying monster, with this kid (Anakin) that would eventually become Darth Vader. Who was nine years of age. It was a big, long scene.”

The scene being referred to is any of the early interactions between Anakin and Qui-Gon involving Watto, the alien junk dealer and gambler who purchased Shmi and Anakin Skywalker from Gardulla the Hut prior to the events of the film.

“I didn’t know what this thing was going to look like, so I’m acting to a guy with a stick and green tennis ball stuck at the top. That is going to be this flying monster. So I’m in the makeup chair, and I’ve got my wig on and beard, and the lady says, ‘I did see a mock-up of the monster, and you could be a monkey smoking a pipe and no one is going to be looking at you.'”

Watto is pretty weird-looking, if we’re being honest, but saying that no one would be paying attention to poor Liam Neeson is just plain rude. Regardless, the actor and entertainer continue to prove why his “particular set of skills” will never go out of style.

Now for a brief, Star Wars-centric aside.

People often drag the Prequel Trilogy through the mud for its overt use of CGI and other visual effects, when in reality, the Prequels (as they’ve come to be known) utilize more practical effects than any of the Original Trilogy ever did. Of course, what we end up focusing on is the bad CGI — but fans have to remember that this was the earlier days of computer-generated images. In that way, George Lucas and his intrepid band of filmmakers weren’t just pioneers… They laid the foundation for modern visual effects outright.

Parker Whitmore
About the author

Parker Whitmore

Parker is a writer, filmmaker, and storyteller who really hates talking about himself in the third-person. Couldn't he just say something like... Hi, I'm Parker! I write articles about some of the stuff you like. Take a look — or don't, I'm not the boss of you.