How ‘Ben-Hur’ Helped Liam Neeson Develop A Particular Set Of Skills For An Enduring Acting Career: The Film That Lit My Fuse

The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to headlines about industry uncertainty by swinging the conversation back to the creative ambitions, formative influences and inspirations of some of today’s great screen artists.

Every installment asks the same five questions. Today’s subject is Liam Neeson, whose latest film, the Martin Campbell-directed Memory, opens today through Briarcliff Entertainment. Born in Northern Ireland, Neeson cut his teeth on the stage in Belfast and London before finding his way into British TV series, and finally movies. His cinematic run began when John Boorman saw him onstage and cast him as Sir Gawain in the cult classic Excalibur.

Neeson worked his way up to Hollywood leading man starring in such prestige projects as Michael Collins, Schindler’s List, Love Actually and others. A boxer as a teen, Neeson put his rugged good looks and strapping physique to use as an action star. The Luc Besson-directed Taken became a global hit, with audiences connecting to his down-and-out protagonist whose special set of skills made him uniquely qualified to rescue his daughter after she heads to Paris for a trip and is kidnapped by sex traffickers bent on auctioning her off to be sent to the Middle East.

Neeson climbed to the top of the action-star salary scale. He continues to be a reliable box office draw, with Memory his latest turn in that genre, and Neeson still is thriving at age 69. Here are the influences that shaped his formidable path.

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