In his latest action film “Memory,” opening April 29, Liam Neeson plays a deadly killer facing his toughest battle: the onset of Alzheimer’s.
While his character as a precision hitman suffers his cognitive impairment, the 69-year-old star has Bruce Willis on his mind, as his fellow action flick staple, suffering from aphasia, recently retired from acting,
“My heart goes out to her. I think about her every day,” Neeson told The Post, noting the aphasia — which affects the ability to express and understand language – is especially cruel to an actor like Willis. “It’s especially poignant, isn’t it? My best wishes are with him.”
But as the Irish icon is set to turn 70 in June, Neeson has no plans to slow down. In fact, he has denied reports that he is retirement from action films,
“It was a joke,” he said. “That was at the Toronto Film Festival a few years ago… One of the Hollywood Foreign Press said, ‘Liam, what’s this with you and these action moves?’ I said, ‘I was stubborn… [but] I have a lot of action films. But I meant it as a joke. ,
Still, playing Alex Lewis in “Memory”—which starred Guy Pearce and Monica Bellucci—Neeson faced the harsh realities that some face as they get older, including the loss of mental faculties. In fact, this notoriously tough guy admits to being afraid of Alzheimer’s.
“It has come to my mind many times, especially when you don’t remember the name of the actor I worked with two or three years ago,” he said. “It bothers me. But maybe we all have to bear the brunt.
“In doing some research for this, I watched some very painful documentaries on the pain of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and of course read some books on it. And I have a friend in Ireland who is older than me, [who] There are very definite early stages of dementia, which is painful to watch… it’s a terrible agony. it really is.”
And, for an actor, memorizing lines is probably the most important tool of the trade. “I know many actors in London … who have lost the ability to learn lines,” Neeson said. “They just can’t learn the material. And these are actors who have performed exceptionally well on stage and in film and television.”
One thing Neeson certainly hasn’t forgotten is how to kick ass onscreen. He’s been doing it ever since he got the part of Brian Mills, a former CIA operative 2009’s “Taken” Thank you for a casual meeting with director Luc Besson at the Shanghai Film Festival.
“I approached him and said, ‘As a kid, I was an amateur boxer, and I’d love to be in a movie where I have to hit or get beaten up by some people,'” Neeson said. “They finally offered me ‘Taken,’ and I thought, ‘That’s great. I’ve got to live in Paris for three months, and we’re going to work… with these stunt guys, fight choreographers and stuff. .And then it will go straight to the video.'”
But the sleeper box-office success of “Taken” spawned two sequels (in 2012 and 2015) and replaced Neeson. a real action star, Now, however, he wants to turn the script and do a romantic comedy. “I would love to,” he said. “Yeah, that would be cool.”
Of course, Neeson co-starred Dear Rom-Com “Love Actually” in 2003, and the film still holds a special place in his heart. “You know, sometimes I flick through the channels at 2 a.m., ‘Love Actually’ starts, and … You hear Hugh Grant talking About the last messages of people [in the planes that hit] Twin Towers. And all the messages were messages of love. I forbid anyone to change the channel when they hear that. I really am.”
In 2009, Neeson’s real-life romance with actress wife Natasha Richardson came to a tragic end when she died of brain injury Happened in a skiing accident. And, 13 years later, the widower doesn’t believe he’ll ever marry again. “No, I think I’m going to be on my own,” he said anxiously.
There’s no doubt that keeping Richardson’s memory alive, Neeson will celebrate with the couple’s two sons — Michael, 26, and Daniel, 25 — when he turns 70 on June 7. “And,” he said, “if a person says to me, ‘Liam, it’s just a number,’ that’ll be it!”