Stars Best Kept Secrets: Liam Neeson
Date of Birth 7 June 1952, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK
Birth Name William John Neeson
Height 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St Mary's Teaching College, Newcastle. However, in 1976, Neeson joined the Belfast Lyric Players' Theater and made his professional acting debut in the play "The Risen People". After two years, Neeson moved to Dublin's Abbey Theater where he performed the classics. It was here that he was spotted by director John Boorman and was cast in the film Excalibur (1981) as Sir Gawain, his first high-profile film role.
Throughout the 1980s Neeson appeared in a handful of films and UK TV series - including The Bounty (1984), A Woman of Substance (1984), The Mission (1986), andDuet for One (1986) - but it wasn't until he moved to Hollywood to pursue larger roles that he began to get noticed. His turn as a mute homeless man in Suspect (1987) garnered good reviews, as did supporting parts in The Good Mother (1988) and High Spirits (1988) - though he also starred in the best-to-be-forgotten Satisfaction (1988), which also featured a then-unknown Julia Roberts - but leading man status eluded him until the cult favorite Darkman (1990), directed by Sam Raimi. From there Neeson starred in Under Suspicion (1991) and Ethan Frome (1993), was hailed for his performance in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives (1992), and ultimately was picked by Steven Spielberg to play Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List (1993). The starring role in the Oscar-winning Holocaust film brought Neeson Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor.
Neeson was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1999 Queen's New Year's Honours List for his accomplishments in film and television. He has two sons from his marriage to Richardson.