Before Irish actor Liam Neeson became the Avenging Father and Star Wars Action Hero Extraordinaire, he actually did a LOT of historical flicks! Let’s count ’em down:
Pilgrim’s Progress (1978) and Christiana (1979)
An adaptation of the 1678 John Bunyan novel/Christian allegory. Neeson plays “Greatheart.”
Neeson played Gawain (and hooked up with Helen Mirren’s Morgan le Fay) in this cheeseball King Arthur adaptation.
The Bounty (1984)
Based on the real-life 1789 naval mutiny. Neeson plays “Churchill.”
The Mission (1986)
In the 18th century, Jesuit missionaries (including Neeson) in South America try to convert an indigenous tribe, while various political and religious issues play out in the background.
Shining Through (1992)
A cheeseball movie that I secretly loved back in the day! Melanie Griffith (ha!) gets sent to Germany as a spy during World War II, infiltrating a Nazi’s (Neeson) household.
Ethan Frome (1993)
An adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel about a married guy who falls in love with his cousin in rural 19th-century Vermont.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Neeson was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of real-life industrialist and humanitarian Oskar Schindler, who saved over a thousand Jews from the Holocaust.
Rob Roy (1995)
Neeson played the title role, as the early 18th-century Scottish outlaw and hero.
Michael Collins (1996)
Neeson portrayed the Irish revolutionary and political leader in this early 20th-century biopic.
Les Misérables (1998)
Neeson played Valjean in this non-singing adaptation of the 1830s-set Victor Hugo novel.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Neeson played “Priest” Vallon, leader of the Irish Catholic gang, in this 1840s-New York-set men-bashing-each-others’-heads-in film.
A biopic about famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (Neeson).
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
I had NO memory that Neeson was in this Crusades-y movie! He plays “Godfrey de Ibelin.”
Seraphim Falls (2006)
A post-Civil War Western.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
As the Greek god Zeus! And finally not wearing greyish brown!
Wrath of the Titans (2012)
As Zeus again in the Greek god sequel.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
Another Western, although this one is a comedy. Neeson plays the villain.
Battle for Incheon: Operation Chromite (2016)
Neeson plays General Douglas MacArthur in this film about the 1950 Korean War battle.
Neeson plays one of two 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit monks who travel to Japan.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
A Coen Brothers film with six stories set in the “Old West.” Neeson plays “Impresario.”
What’s your favorite of Liam Neeson’s historical roles?
You likely forgot about Neeson in Kingdom of Heaven because he’s only at the very beginning (playing Orlando Bloom’s disappeared dad) – his death is what kicks off the whole “going to fight in Jerusalem” part of the plot. Neeson’s also one of three priests in Japan in Silence; Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver are sent to Japan to find him after another priest gets word that Neeson’s renounced his faith and essentially adopted a Japanese identity
I just recommended Michael Collins! And Liam plays a favorite key (small) character in Kingdom of Heaven.
“Rob Roy” makes my Scots heart sing.
I’m not scots, but I see your point. That movie is so underrated and I cannot for the life of me understand why. It has so many great things; Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, Tim Roth, good soundtrack and scenery and the best sword-fighting scene ever.
The first place I remember seeing Liam Neeson was in the miniseries Ellis Island, I think 1984? Another bad guy, perhaps, but the only one with an authentic Irish accent.
My mom and I enjoyed him very much in “A Woman of Substance” with Jenny Seagrove, but I must confess I have a big crush on his character in Star Wars. :)
Rrrrrob Rrrroy for me. I sometimes yell “postura di falcone” when I’m trying to lift things – it’s a sword fighting position he teaches Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven. My brain memed it. And I know it’s technically religious propaganda (I’ve read the whole series and yelled at the end) but he WAS, IS, and always WILL BE Aslan to me.
Love, Actually isn’t a frock flick, but I really enjoyed his character. He got to be a little silly and date Claudia Schiffer. I hope at some point he pulls a post-Bond Daniel Craig move and just goes absolutely ham in things like Logan Lucky and Knives Out.
Living proof that a guy doesn’t need to be conventionally handsome to have grrr-factor. Rob Roy is my favorite of L.N.’s costume roles, and his Valjean made Lame Is Rob watchable.
I’m a Les Mis fan, but still laughed at your “Lame Is Rob”!
Probably because that’s the only frock flick he’s in that also has Alan Rickman
although I also did like him in the non-frock “Nell”
You probably didn’t remember Gawain hooking up with Morgan le Fay in Excalibur because those scenes were cut from the final film. In the film, the two are seemingly flirting but that’s it. There was a full love scene cut out.
The premise is especially odd since Morgan le Fay is traditionally Gawain’s aunt. Since Excalibur amalgamates Morgause and Morgan le Fay, that would mean Gawain was schtupping his own mother or aunt. Thankfully the movie avoids that… confusion.
The only one of these movies I have seen all the way through is Les Miserables, which by my unpopular opinion should never be a musical, but the movie is not the greatest. I did see his part in Gangs of New York, but greasy men grossed me out, and I couldn’t finish it. I do want to see Michael Collins.
“Les Miserables, which by my unpopular opinion should never be a musical”
Probably an unpopular opinion but I completely agree. Love the book, quite enjoy some film versions however abridged, but both the movie musical and filmed stage performances of the musical are as enjoyable to me as root canal. I’d rather sit butt naked on a hot grill than watch the movie musical again. Who reads a 1,500 page book with nineteen chapters devoted to the Battle of Waterloo and thinks, “You know what this needs? Musical numbers.”
Here, here! When I finally saw the musical (at the theater, not the movies) I was like, “Why does this exist?” I mean, just read the damn book!! And who would read THAT book and come up with THIS musical?! Usually, I’m very forgiving about adaptations, but for some reason Les Miserables just got under my skin.
‘List’ masks me cry every damn time I watch it. He should have won that award. And Michael Collins was also excellent.
To me, Liam Neeson is THE definition of DREAMY! And then when you see how humble he is in interviews, he’s even DREAMIER!! (With the exception of the interviews he did after Silence in which he looked like a living skeleton. Yikes!)
@Kendra, I also loved Shining Through when it came out! There’s a hilarious clip of him on Graham Norton (I think?) apologizing to Jamie Dornan that he never saw 50 Shades because he’d acted w/ Dakaota Johnson’s mother in a movie long ago and knew her as a little child. He was like, “I just couldn’t…” it was so sweet. Also, it was hilarious b/c I don’t think he even bothered to name the movie he did with Melanie Griffin.
He’s good in practically everything. That said, I LOVED him as Zeus (as well as Ralph Fiennes as Hades). You chose some really great pics for this post, including the DREAMY top photo!! GREAT MCM choice!!
What was even more hilarious about that GRAHAM NORTON interview is that Mr Dornan was wearing a look giving him such a resemblance to Mr Neeson that one could only call it an “Ask me about my Mum” outfit (or, less mischievously, a mini-me outfit).
I. LOVED. SHINING. THROUGH.
It’s basically what would happen if Tess McGill was born in 1916 (?) and decided to become an OSS spy in Nazi Berlin instead of trying to take down Sigourney Weaver in 1980’s New York.
Also, Joely Richardson was glamour incarnate as the high society German socialite Nazi courtesan.
Yay for Shining Through losers! <3
Oh, Vesta–fond memories, sort of. We watched L.N. in “Nell” on a flight to Britain about 1995. When I asked our then-5-year-old daughter what she liked about her first airplane ride, she said, “I liked it when Liam took his clothes off.” (Later during the trip she conceived an admiration for Sean Bean as Lieut. Richard Sharpe.)
Your five-year old daughter had great taste!
I’m not going to lie, even before we hit CLASH/WRATH OF THE TITANS I was getting strong Olympian vibes from those pictures of la Mirren and Mr Neeson together – serious, serious Zeus/Hera energy there.
Ha! Perhaps Mr Ciaran Hinds could come along and play Poseidon?