How Liam Neeson Became An Accidental Action Star At 61

Liam neeson a walk among tombstonesAtsushi Nishijima/Universal StudiosLiam Neeson stars in new action thriller ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones.’

Liam Neeson has a new thriller out this weekend, “A Walk Among the Tombstones.”

Since his appearance in 2009’s hit “Taken,” the once dramatic actor who was nominated for an Oscar in 1993’s “Schindler’s List” has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after action stars — at age 62!

After “Taken,” Neeson starred in a string of box-office hits including “Unknown,” “The Grey,” and “Non-Stop” which allowed him to deliver his “particular set of skills” over and over again in similar films.

It’s an envious role to actors like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, ’80s action stars who have tried to revitalize their careers for younger generations after the success of “The Expendables,” only to turn up with box office bomb after box office bomb.

However, most actors don’t suddenly decide to make the switch to action star later in life.

The change in Neeson’s career came after the sudden death of his wife of 15 years in March 2009.

Liam neeson wifeEvan Agostini/Getty ImagesRichardson and Neeson at the ‘Dreamgirls’ premiere after party in Dec. 2006.

Natasha Richardson, daughter of British actress Vanessa Redgrave, died of a traumatic brain injury after she fell and hit her head while taking a beginner ski lesson in Quebec, Canada.

Liam neeson natasha richardsonCBS/60 MinutesNatasha Richardson and Liam Neeson starred together in 1993 Broadway show ‘Anna Christie.’

In an interview with Anderson Cooper for “60 Minutes” earlier this year, Neeson said he returned to work days after his wife’s death.

“I’m not good without work,” Neeson told Cooper. “I just didn’t want to, especially for my boys, to seem to be wallowing in sadness or depression.”

“Taken” debuted two months before Richardson’s death. Neeson thought the film would be straight to video, but the $US25 million movie became a hit, making $US226.8 million worldwide. A sequel debuted to $US50 million opening weekend in 2012 and made more than $US375 million worldwide.

Since 2009, Neeson has starred in more than a dozen action films including big-budget film “Clash of the Titans” and there are more to come.

“Taken 3” is currently set for a January 2015 release. Neeson is reportedly making near $20 million to reprise his role.

According to a 2011 Esquire interview,
Neeson said it has been this work which has helped him get through Richardson’s passing.

“I think I survived by running away some,” said Neeson. “Running away to work. Listen, I know how old I am and that I’m just a shoulder injury from losing roles like the one in Taken. So I stay with the training, I stay with the work. It’s easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work. That’s effective. But that’s the weird thing about grief. You can’t prepare for it. You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work.”

While the now 62-year-old actor told Cooper he’s a “wee bit embarrassed” by his success as an action star, he believes it’s something his wife would be pleased to learn.

“She’d be very chuffed at that,” said Neeson.

You can watch the full “60 Minutes” interview here.

Natasha richardson liam neesonScott Gries/Getty ImagesThe two attended the 56th Annual Tony Awards in June 2002.

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