It's time for a Liam Neeson Literary Roles post, and we're fawning over every literary role he’s ever performed. As difficult as it will be, let’s forget about the Taken series for a moment (or as long as it takes for you to read this blog post) and join us for a journey into the worlds of King Arthur, Victor Hugo, C.S. Lewis, and Patrick Ness.
Liam Neeson starred in not one, but two King Arthur-centric movies early in his career: Excalibur in 1981 and Arthur the King in 1985. Well, “starred” is a generous word to use here. In Excalibur, he played Gawain and if your response was a double take followed by a loud “WHO???” your reaction is totally appropriate. Gawain is, according to literary legend, King Arthur’s nephew. It’s a far cry from the Liam Neeson fandom that permeates Key and Peele—but hey we all have to start somewhere.
Arthur the King or Merlin and the Sword (1985)
In 1985, Liam Neeson revisited Arthurian legend by playing Grak (don’t ask) in Arthur and the King. Or, depending on where you live, Merlin and the Sword. That’s the thing about TV movies, they’re ripe for A/B testing. No matter what you called it, the CBS movie wasn’t well liked. With a score of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, all we want to do is give this young Liam Neeson a big hug and assure him that he’s going to be a huge star – in about a decade. It’s hard to believe that Schindler’s List wasn’t too far behind this hiccup.
Les Miserables (1998)
Long before the 2012 movie musical was even a glint in Russell Crowe’s eye, the 1998 film adaptation of Les Miserables was dominating the Victor Hugo canon. (Hunchback who?) In this adaptation of the 1800s classic novel, Liam Neeson stars as Vajean, the catalyst for this entire story. If he hadn’t stolen a loaf of bread to feed his family, we’d never get to see Anne Hathaway shave her head and sob sing through “I Dreamed a Dream.” Which, in our humble opinion, is a small price to pay.
The Chronicles of Narnia series (2005 – 2010)
We have a lot of feelings about The Chronicles of Narnia series and one of them is that if we knew Liam Neeson would be lending his booming voice to the role of the lion Aslan, we would have had a pretty magical childhood. And it’s clear Neeson feels the same. He’s stuck with the role through multiple production studios, directors, and threats of a series incomplete. (Hello, The Silver Chair preproduction news!) But through all the ups and downs, one thing’s for certain: we’ll always have Aslan.
A Monster Calls (2016)
In A Monster Calls, Liam Neeson lends his stellar voice acting to this already incredible ensemble. (Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones, anyone?) He plays the titular Monster, bringing to life this gorgeous story of a young boy coming to terms with his mother’s cancer battle. The movie is based on the novel by Patrick Ness, but Ness would be the first to correct that credit. It was Siobhan Dowd who first began developing this concept into a novel, stopped only by her premature death in 2007. And as we watch Liam Neeson portray this larger than life tree-like monster, we know he was honoring Dowd in every Earth shattering breath.