Still boxing at sixteen, he had been Youth Heavyweight Champion of Ireland for three consecutive years, aided by his height.
After leaving university, Neeson returned to Ballymena and worked in a variety of small jobs, from fork-lift operator at Guinness to truck driver. He also worked at a teacher-training college in Newcastle for two years before again returning to his hometown. Neeson would get his first film experience in 1973, playing Jesus Christ in the religious film, Pilgrim's Progress directed by Ken Anderson. After a bet from co-workers at the architects' office where he worked, Neeson applied for an audition at the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast. After two years there, Neeson moved to Dublin and joined the Abbey Theatre in 1977. In 1980, film-maker John Boorman saw him on stage, acting as Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men, and offered him the part of Sir Gawain in the upcoming Arthurian movie, Excalibur. After Excalibur, Neeson moved to London, where he continued working on stage, small budget movies and TV series. He lived with the actress Helen Mirren at this time, whom he met working on Excalibur. Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson starred in five films; mostly notably alongside Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in 1984's The Bounty.
In 1987, Neeson made a conscious decision to move to Hollywood in order to star in high-profile roles. That year, he starred alongside Cher and Dennis Quaid in crime thriller, Suspect. The role would bring Neeson critics' applause, but it was 1990's Darkman that would bring his name to the public attention. Although the film gained success, Neeson's following years would not give him the same recognition. In 1993, he joined Ellis Island co-star, and future wife, Natasha Richardson in the Broadway play, Anna Christie. (They also worked together in Nell, released the following year.) Director Steven Spielberg, impressed by his performance, offered him the coveted role of Oskar Schindler, in the upcoming film about The Holocaust, Schindler's List. His critically acclaimed performance later earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor; however, the award went to Tom Hanks for his performance in Philadelphia. Neeson also garnered BAFTA and Golden Globes nominations for Schindler's List.
Schindler's List established Neeson as a widely sought after leading actor. He later starred in period pieces Rob Roy (1995) and Michael Collins (1996), the latter earning him another Golden Globes nomination and a win for Best Starring Role at the Venice Film Festival. Neeson went onto star as Jean Valjean in the 1998 adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables and in The Haunting as Dr. David Marrow.
In 2004, Neeson hosted an episode of the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live. He starred as a redneck trucker, Marlon Weaver, in an "Appalachian Emergency Room" sketch and a hippie in a one-off sketch about two stoner (the other played by Amy Poehler) who attempt to borrow a police dog in order to find their lost stash of marijuana. Despite vowing not to play any characters who were Irish stereotype, Neeson did play a stereotypically Irish man named Lorken McArdle in the home makeover show parody "You Call This A House, Do Ya? In 2005, Neeson could be seen playing Godfrey of Ibelin, in Ridley Scott's epic adventure Kingdom of Heaven, and as Father Bernard in Neil Jordan's adaptation of Patrick McCabe's novel, Breakfast on Pluto. Also in 2005, he voiced the role of a kindly priest on The Simpsons, who converted Bart and Homer to Catholicism. That same year, he gave his voice to the lion Aslan in the blockbuster fantasy film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A year later, he narrated the documentary Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity.
In 2007, Neeson starred in the American Civil War epic Seraphim Falls alongside Pierce Brosnan and Anjelica Huston. He is also set to star as Abraham Lincoln in a film directed by Steven Spielberg. In preparation for the role, Neeson visited Washington, D.C. and read Lincoln's personal letters. He also visited Ford's Theatre, where the President was shot. He again gave his voice to Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008). Neeson's voice will also be featured in the video game, Fallout 3 as the main character's father. The executive producer of the game, Todd Howard, said "This role was written with Liam in mind, and provides the dramatic tone for the entire game".
As of May 2008, Neeson is filming the role of Alistair Little in the BBC Northern Ireland/Big Fish Films television drama Five Minutes of Heaven, which tells the true story of a young Protestant man convicted of murdering a Catholic boy during The Troubles.
They have two sons, Micheál Richard Antonio (born June 22, 1995) and Daniel Jack (born August 28, 1996). The family home is in exurban Millbrook, New York. Neeson turned down the 'Freedom of the town of Ballymena' offered to him by Ballymena Borough Council, because of objections made by members of the Democratic Unionist Party about his comments that he had felt like a 'second-class citizen' growing up as a Roman Catholic in the town. Neeson continues to practise the Roman Catholic religion and has raised his children Roman Catholic.
Ironically, despite the Democratic Unionist Party's objections to him, proof that Neeson was not anti-British came when he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in her 1999 New Year's Honours List. The American Ireland Fund honored Liam Neeson with their Performing Arts Award for the great distinction he has brought to Ireland at their 2008 Dinner Gala in New York.
|1982||Merlin and the Sword (aka Arthur the King)||Grak|
|1984||The Bounty||Charles Churchill|
|Ellis Island||Kevin Murray|
|A Prayer for the Dying||Liam Docherty|
|High Spirits||Martin Brogan|
|The Dead Pool||Peter Swan|
|The Good Mother||Leo Cutter|
|1989||Next of Kin||Briar Gates|
|The Big Man||Danny Scoular|
|1991||Under Suspicion||Tony Aaron|
|1992||Husbands and Wives||Michael Gates|
|Leap of Faith||Will|
|1993||Ethan Frome||Ethan Frome|
|Schindler's List||Oskar Schindler|
|1994||Nell||Dr. Jerome 'Jerry' Lovell|
|1995||Rob Roy||Robert Roy MacGregor|
|1996||Michael Collins||Michael Collins|
|Before and After||Ben Ryan|
|1998||Les Misérables||Jean Valjean|
|1999||The Haunting||Dr. David Marrow|
|Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace||Qui-Gon Jinn|
|2000||Gun Shy||Charlie Mayo|
|2001||Journey into Amazing Caves||Narrator|
|2002||The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition||Narrator|
|K-19: The Widowmaker||Mikhail Polenin|
|Gangs of New York||'Priest' Vallon|
|Coral Reef Adventure||Narrator|
|2005||''The Simpsons||Father Sean (voice)|
|2005||Kingdom of Heaven||Godfrey of Ibelin|
|Batman Begins||Henri Ducard / Ra's al Ghul|
|Breakfast on Pluto||Father Bernard|
|The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||Aslan (voice)|
|The Birth of Christ||Narrator|
|2008||The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian||Aslan (voice)|
|The Other Man||Peter|
|Five Minutes of Heaven||Adult Alistair Little|
|The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader||Aslan (voice)|