Even at 69 years of age, Liam Neeson remains one of the industry’s most popular and in-demand action stars. It’s fascinating to think how differently the last dozen years of the actor’s career would have turned out had Jeff Bridges not dropped out of the lead role in Taken, opening the door for Neeson to step in as Bryan Mills and completely reinvent his onscreen persona in the process.
He may have flirted with retiring from the genre more than once, but since the beginning of 2019 alone the grizzled badass has appeared in action thrillers Cold Pursuit, Honest Thief and The Marksman; the latter two opened at the top of the domestic box office. Neeson’s latest film, The Ice Road, premiered on Netflix yesterday. In a new interview to promote the movie, Neeson admitted that he’s surprised he keeps getting offered such physically demanding roles despite his advancing years.
“I’m 69! I just turned 69 years of age, and the conversations I have with my agent now are, ‘Liam, have you read this script? It’s an action script’, and I say, ‘Chris, let me ask you this, they do know what age I am, right?’. ‘Yes, they do’. ‘Okay, that’s all I want to know, thank you’. That being said, I keep reasonably fit, and you just have to for some of these films. If you’re playing the lead in any film, you have the responsibility; you’re in practically every scene, it behooves you to be fit. You don’t have to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger at the age of 35, but you have to have stamina. So I do my little workouts every day and keep reasonably fit.”
Of course, the people behind these scripts know that they’re guaranteed a sizeable audience if their project manages to snag Neeson, given his standing in the pantheon of modern action heroes. Even though the superstar is once again hinting that his days of shooting bad guys may be drawing to a close, it sounds as though he’ll keep signing on as long as he thinks he’s capable.
That said, Seth MacFarlane’s Naked Gun reboot could offer an entirely different sort of performance. For now, Liam Neeson still has Memory, Blacklight and Retribution in various stages of production, so fans will be getting at least three more action-driven efforts over the next couple of years, by which time he’ll be in his 70s and knocking them out on a regular basis.