Liam Neeson (65 today): Not quite ready for his bus pass

Long wait yet to see what star might look like as an old man - judging by his youthful visage

Liam Neeson photographed in London  at a film screening in September 2016. File photograph: Getty Images

Liam Neeson photographed in London at a film screening in September 2016. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Ballymena’s most famous native son officially reaches pensionable age today. However, it seems unlikely Liam Neeson (65) will be spending more time with his hydrangeas any time soon.

The Irish News reports that Neeson took time out of his “hectic filming schedule” (is there any other sort?) last week to enjoy some “early birthday festivities” in his home town, where he stayed with his sister Elizabeth, spending time with close family and friends.

There’s no further news available about his birthday plans, but since Neeson made a point of making his 60th as low-key and festivity-free as possible, why would he change his approach for a date usually only deemed significant if there’s a gold watch and a bus pass involved?

Honour declined

Neeson made peace with Ballymena when he received the Freedom of the Borough in 2013.That was 13 years after he had declined the honour after members of the DUP voiced objections to his comments that he had felt like a “second-class citizen” growing up as a Catholic there.

We’re going to have to wait a long time to see what Liam Neeson might look like as an old man, to judge by his still ridiculously youthful visage.

Pictures of him as Mark Felt, the real Deep Throat, in upcoming Watergate drama The Silent Man do show him gaunt and grey-haired, but he looked much more spry in a social media post this week supporting Broadway casting directors seeking union recognition.

In truth, not many 65-year-olds look anything like Liam Neeson, but then that’s one of the reasons he’s a multi-millionaire movie star and they’re not.

Revenge thrillers

The massive box office success of the Taken revenge thrillers, which reinvented Neeson as an action hero in his late 50s, shouldn’t obscure the breadth and depth of his life as a movie actor.

In the 37 years since John Boorman plucked him from a Dublin stage to play Sir Gawain in Excalibur, his career has had peaks (The Mission, Darkman, Schindler’s List, Michael Collins) and troughs (the lucrative but irredeemable Star Wars: The Phantom Menace).

That rich, deep voice has been used for everything from Aslan in the Narnia films to narrating the official documentaries marking last year’s 1916 centenary.

Soon he’s due to follow in the footsteps of Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum by playing Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and a bunch of other thrillers are in the pipeline.

That bus pass won’t be needed just yet. And the good folk of Ballymena can still live in hope that some day he’ll get to play their other most famous Big Man, Ian Paisley.

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