Standing a burly 6'4", Liam Neeson was once described by a theatre critic as a "towering sequoia of sex." To say that he has undeniable charisma is certainly accurate, but it is a charisma composed as much of impressive talent as of broken-nosed physical appeal. Bearing both versatility and quiet forcefulness, Neeson has been touted as one of the most compelling actors of the late 20th century.
Born June 7, 1952, in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, Neeson had an upbringing partially defined by his involvement in boxing. He became active in the sport as a teenager, earning his distinctive broken nose in the process; he stayed with boxing until he began experiencing black-outs from repeated blows to the head. Initially interested in a career as a teacher, Neeson attended Belfast's Queens College, but he aborted his studies after developing a desire to act. In 1976, he joined Belfast's Lyric Theatre, and two years later he began performing the classics at Dublin's famed Abbey Theatre. While he was with the Abbey, Neeson was discovered by director John Boorman, who cast him as Gawain in 1981's Excalibur. Following his part in that action fantasy, Neeson had supporting roles in such films as The Mission (1986), and he was featured in leads opposite Cher in Suspect (1987) and Diane Keaton in The Good Mother (1988).