Neeson’s drastic weight loss: ‘I took it too far’
DESPITE recent reports he's retired from the action genre, Liam Neeson isn't ready to hang up his holster just yet.
"Maybe I have another year to play those action roles, but that'd be it. Otherwise, I'm sure audiences will go, 'Oh come on! You're beating up five guys and you're 65! Get over it!'" he tells news.com.au. "Audiences aren't stupid."
Neeson has had a run of playing action heroes in the past ten years of his career, most notably in the Taken franchise alongside roles in The A-Team (2010), The Grey (2012), and A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014).
Turning to more cerebral fare, he next stars as Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, a whistleblower who helped journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate scandal in 1974.
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House reveals some obvious similarities between the current administration's battles with the FBI and those of President Nixon more than four decades ago.
"The idea of democracy was at stake back then," he says. "Richard Nixon thought he was above the law and there seem to be definite parallels. There's certainly chicanery, maleficence going on, and as one political analyst said recently about this present administration, 'there's no smoke without fire and there's certainly a lot of smoke.' That was certainly the case in the early stages of Watergate."
Neeson looked decidedly gaunt as Felt. "Yes, I lost a lot of weight [more than 9 kilos] for a Martin Scorsese film called Silence and I liked the feeling, but then I kind of took it too far in this, to be honest," he says.
The Oscar-nominated actor has played many leaders and men of action, be it the physical or cerebral kind. "I like playing men like that but I'm not a leader," he says, shaking his head. "I couldn't carry that responsibility."
There are some comparisons between Mark Felt and the controversy surrounding the former FBI director, James Comey. "As far as we know, Comey was dismissed because the Tweeter-in-Chief obviously felt he wasn't being loyal enough. It's rather embarrassing what's happening with the cabinet and the reshuffling. It's very worrying."
Neeson isn't a fan of social media. "I don't interact myself, I must admit. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter or any of that stuff. It seems to be the new frontier and it seems lawless at the moment. And I find that terrifying.
"Everybody seems to want their 15 minutes of fame, don't they? It does seem lawless and very, very scary. You delete something and you think, 'Where the fuck does it go?' Certainly somewhere to be grabbed by some little 15-year-old ... who has information on all of us perhaps. It's very frightening," he says, earnestly. "But you have to marvel at the ingenuity of mankind. It's an extraordinary tool, but it's a dangerous tool, too."
Far from the heroic-yet-dangerous characters with whom he has become synonymous, (particularly Taken's Bryan Mills, whose much-quoted speech about his 'particular set of skills' has inspired many wannabe action men), the 1.93 metre Irishman is no fighting man.
"I've never been in a real altercation. I'm just being very honest, but I've never got into a fight, ever. But if I were to, according to the SAS guys I've trained with, they all say that no matter how skilled you are physically, at the first sign of a fight in a bar or restaurant, you check where the exit is and leave immediately."
"You don't try to prove yourself, you just get out."