Arguably one of the most successful and popular actors of our generation, Liam Neeson is one persona you can’t mistake. His voice and his acting style have become so familiar in Hollywood; he’s really hard to miss. Neeson has also been part of some of the last couple of decades’ most iconic films including the Taken, Star Wars, and The Chronicles of Narnia franchises. It’s no surprise that the actor has amassed a substantial net worth of $145 million over the course of his career, and there’s no sign that he’s ready to stop just yet. Let’s take a closer look at how Liam Neeson achieved his fortune.
Born on June 7, 1952 in Northern Ireland, Liam John Neeson grew up surrounded by political and religious turmoil. It has shaped much of who he is, and he proudly claims that growing up amidst the Northern Ireland conflict is part of his DNA. Neeson started boxing at a young age of nine, and it even seemed as if he might have had a career in it. The young boxer won several regional titles, but he discontinued the sport when he turned 17. Although Neeson stopped boxing, it was an experience he often referred back to in his acting career. While he was in school, Neeson became more and more interested in acting, having performed in several school productions. Even at a young age, Neeson already had the undeniable presence that would be so predominant in his career. While some encouraged his acting, Neeson decided to go to college for physics and computer science. He would eventually finish university and go back to his hometown of Ballymena in 1976.
After university, Neeson worked various jobs to make money. He once worked as a forklift operator at the Guinness Brewery. He also eventually became a truck driver for the company. At one point, he even attended a teacher training college in England, but he ended up not pursuing that career. His first real acting gig came when he joined Belfast’s Lyric Players’ Theater in 1976. He acted for 2 years with that company, but while doing so, he got his first film gig. He acted in 1978’s Pilgrim’s Progress, where he portrayed Jesus Christ and an evangelist. He eventually moved to Dublin to further his stage career, performing in play after play.
Neeson got his first big break in 1980 when a producer saw him perform the role of Lennie Small on a stage production of Of Mice and Men. Filmmaker John Boorman recognized Neeson’s natural talents and gave him the role of Sir Gawain in the 1980 film Excalibur. After the film, Neeson continued to work on several other plays and a couple of successful films with big Hollywood names such as Mel Gibson, Robert de Niro, and Jeremy Irons. He also guest starred in a few television shows during the mid 80s including Miami Vice. The traction he was creating led Neeson to make the decision to finally just move to Hollywood in pursuit of higher-profile roles. In the late 80s and early 90s, Neeson found himself acting in movies with other Hollywood greats including Clint Eastwood and Dennis Quaid. During this time in his career, he began to garner positive recognition for his acting performances.
Neeson’s breakthrough performance came in 1993 when he won the role of Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s hit film, Schindler’s List. High-caliber actors such as Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner were some of the actors that were in contention for the role. However, Spielberg was much impressed by Neeson’s audition, which the actor prepared for by studying the Keneally book. For his performance, Neeson garnered several award nominations including an Oscar for Best Actor, a BAFTA nomination, and a Golden Globes nomination as well. He got several other lead roles during that time in his career, including the coveted role of Jean Valjean in the 1988 adaptation of Les Misérables.
In 1999, Neeson became part of the Star Wars franchise as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. From 2000 on, Neeson found himself starring in more mainstream roles. He slowly solidified his standing as one of Hollywood’s best action stars, but he’s also managed to sneak in films from a variety of genres including romantic comedy, drama, and family adventure films. Some of his biggest films during this time in his career include Gangs of New York, Kingdom of Heaven, Batman Begins, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
After 2008, Neeson continued to pursue more action and blockbuster films. Neeson gained much cultural fame after starring in the 2008 action film, Taken. The film was a global hit that grossed about $223.9 million. The movie literally made a lot of people wary about travelling to Europe, but it also brought Neeson back to the Hollywood forefront. Neeson would continue to shine in his film performances during this time. Some of his most successful films include Clash of the Titans, The A-Team, The Grey, Non-Stop, The Commuter, and several others. Apart from acting in films, he has also lent his voice to various voice-acting projects, including one of his most popular voice roles as the henchman Good Cop/Bad Cop in The Lego Movie.
Neeson hasn’t stopped acting since he started in 1976, and he continues to do so until today. His net worth of $145 million is largely derived from his acting career. Neeson maintains a low profile despite his incredible success as a celebrity, and he continues to be involved with a Belfast-based charity that’s close to his heart. There’s so much more to admire about Neeson than just his financial achievements. Neeson is truly rich not just because of his money but also because of his incredible talent and his admirable character.