From Schindler to Zeus

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By Liam Neeson tells t2 how the constant thrust of better roles keeps him going. PRATIM D. GUPTA WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE LIAM NEESON FILM? TELL T2@ABPMAIL.COM
  • Published 13.04.10
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When you go through his filmography — Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, Kinsey, Star Wars — you realise that Liam Neeson is right up there with the Sean Penns and Johnny Depps of the world. Just that Neeson chose to do things quietly. Here in India, he may best be remembered as the father in Love Actually or as the voice of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia. In the new Holly epic Clash of the Titans, Neeson plays Zeus, the leader of the Gods of Mount Olympus. The actor, who lost his actress wife Natasha Richardson — she died of a head injury from a ski accident a year back — replied to t2’s questions over email. Over to Liam Neeson...

What made you say ‘yes’ to Clash of the Titans?

My sons encouraged me to do it, and I knew that with (director) Louis (Leterrier) and all the incredible computer wizards and technicians they had on the crew, they were going to make this thing just jump off the screen. It was simply an electrifying experience working with the talented cast.

Have you seen the original version of 1981? What did you think of that film?

Yes of course, I have seen the 1981 original many times and it is one of my favourite movies from the era of stop motion capturing and I think it’s exceptionally great. I especially like the Medusa sequence from the original one. I can assure you that Louis’s vision to recreate the enigma of the classical version has been fulfilled... grand locations, huge CG-generated creatures have lived the expectations very well.

Sir Laurence Olivier played Zeus in the 1981 film. Does that make this extra special for you?

Laurence has played his part tremendously great; no one can compare his work to others. You know, when you play a character which has already been played by a legend then the expectations are on peak and I have tried my level best to match up to that level and hope that the audiences love my work as the way they did of Laurence.

Was there a challenge to bring something new to the role?

As an actor everybody tries to give his best to the role and I have tried to do the same to relive the role of Zeus. The beard and the armour makes my Zeus version appear a lot more warrior-like than Laurence Olivier’s pampered Eighties version. The landscape for this film is a lot grittier and rugged than its predecessor. When you will see the film, the phrase “fire and brimstone” comes to mind all of a sudden.

How difficult and tedious was it to get made up for your part every day of the shoot?

The armour was the most difficult part for my character. Every time, you need to get dressed up in those metal suits. Most of the outdoor locations used in film were real and we shot the film at sea shores and on the steep peaks of mountains. So there were lots of physical things to do along with the usual acting.

Clash of the Titans has been turned into a 3-D film from a 2-D film because of the success of Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. How do you feel about that?

It’s not because of those films but it was a combined decision of Louis and Warner Bros. to make this film more lively. When you will watch the release of Kraken and Medusa sequences in 3-D, and if you have also seen the same sequences in 2-D, you will trace the huge difference in the level of excitement and thrill. It’s an age of technology and I think a 3D film draws more attention of the audiences and it was the conscious decision taken by Louis.

From Schindler’s List to Kinsey, Liam Neeson has achieved everything as an actor. What still drives you?

A constant thrust of better roles.

Clash of the Titans is your first project since the very unfortunate death of your wife. Was it difficult returning to work?

Yes, it was really difficult to come back initially but it is the work only that pushed me again towards socialisation and to live another chapter of my life... though without her.