Photo: Zohar123/Wikimedia Commons
In 2002, Scott Neeson was the President of 20th Century Fox International overseeing films like “Titanic” and “X-Men.”The Scottish-born executive had a million-dollar salary, a yacht, a Porsche, and lived in Los Angeles’ ritzy Brentwood neighbourhood.
But in 2003, everything changed when Neeson went to visit Cambodia’s Steung Meanchey garbage dump and saw children playing with syringes and broken glass.
“How could anyone survive here?” Neeson recalls to People magazine. “I couldn’t look away.”
During a second trip to Cambodia, Neeson was trying to help sick children near the dump when he received a call from an agent whose A-list client was “having a meltdown before boarding his private jet because it wasn’t properly stocked with his favourite amenities.”
It was a wake up call to Neeson, who tells People, “The kids I was with were very sick and here’s this movie star yelling. If I needed a sign, that was it.”
So Neeson left his high-paying Hollywood job and started a nonprofit called Cambodian Children’s Fund.”Since 2004, Neeson’s charity has helped house, educate and provide health care for more than 1,450 children in the country’s most desperate slums,” according to People.
Now 53-years-old, Neeson has lived in Cambodia for the past 10 years, where he says his one luxury is an espresso machine.
“I guess I identify with [the kids] never believing they could do anything with their lives,” says Neeson, who gew up in a working-class household and dropped out of high school to deliver movie posters to theatres. “They’ve been through so much, but they’re so hugely energetic and joyful. I’ve got more love in my life than I ever thought existed. My fear is what would have happened to me if I was still living a life all about me.”
“I miss a lot of things about Hollywood,” Neeson tells the mag, “but I wouldn’t change this for the world.”
Watch Neeson’s riches-to-rags story below:
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