“TITANS” AN “EGO CHECK” FOR NEESON
Actor is so talented and awesome that once in a while he needs the time to "quietly suck".
LOS ANGELES – Re-release the Kraken!
One of Hollywood’s coolest men, actor Liam Neeson, recently took a break from doing press junkets for his latest movie, “Wrath of the Titans”, to talk to us candidly about the film. So not really a break at all, actually, but he wasn’t complaining.
“Doing press for this has been incredibly easy for me,” says Neeson. “I am so incredibly indifferent about this project. As an actor, that can be very freeing.”
Warner Brothers has been running an extensive marketing campaign for the “Titans” sequel for months now. Odd, considering nobody has expressed anything more than vague interest in “maybe seeing it if they had nothing going on”.
The decision to make a forgettable movie that he didn’t really care about was a critical one for Neeson to make at this point in his career. After starring in “Schindler’s List”, which garnered him a Best Oscar nomination, Neeson went on to star in a steady string of critically acclaimed films, and more recently, has enjoyed somewhat of a second career as a celebrated action hero. He begun to think that he was perhaps doing a bit TOO well in Hollywood, and started searching for a role that would take some of that pressure off for a few weeks.
“Everybody loved me in “Taken”, critics and audiences alike. I thought to myself, “I’m pushing 60 and still dashingly handsome, not to mention incredibly talented and critically revered. What can I do about this?” I could barely walk down the street any more without hordes of people telling me how much they loved me and approved of all my career choices,” says Neeson. “I needed to make a mediocre movie to balance things out.”
That opportunity soon came when he was offered the role of “A Bearded Guy” in the 2010 film, “Clash of the Titans”, itself a wholly unnecessary remake of a 1981 film of the same name.
Neeson remembers, “When I first read the script, I thought, “Okay, well, I see what they’re doing here. This is a complex sting operation disguised as movie. They’re going to arrest everyone who buys a ticket to this mindless garble on drug charges.” But then I found out the writer and director were actually serious about making this project, and I thought it might be exactly the sort of career misstep I needed.”
Despite being critically despised and not really talked about by anyone since, the first “Titans” film went on to somehow make nearly 500 million dollars at the worldwide box office. Surveys show that the demographics who purchased the most tickets for the film were “old people choosing a movie at random” and “stoned teenagers looking to kill a few hours before the house party”.
Hardly anybody in the world has been quoted talking about the movie since, other than describing to physicians the “3-D headache” they were experiencing, but the financial success of the first film meant a sequel was inevitable. For the second film, Neeson was re-united with co-stars Sam Worthington and Ralph Fiennes, also two actors who should be above doing this kind of movie. Neeson has nothing but kind words to say about them.
“It’s amazing that a movie like this can somehow get not one, but two universally admired actors to give up a few afternoons of their spare time. I did “Schindler’s List” with Ralph. Like me, he’s crushed every single performance he’s done in the past twenty years, but he too appreciates the importance of making a really crap movie once in a while. We spend our days sitting in front of green screens, reminiscing about better films we’ve been in, eating food, occasionally saying a line very half-heartedly. There’s no pressure whatsoever.”
Of course, this isn’t the first effects-heavy blockbuster Neeson has starred in, having played Qui-Gon Jinn in “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.”
“That was interesting comparison,” reflects Neeson. “Having gone from playing a character in an old franchise that has such a dedicated fan base, to playing a character whose name I’ve already forgotten in a movie I was pretty sure nobody was ever going to see. I learned very little from both experiences.”
Neeson says he thinks every actor should be obligated to do at least one bland, effects-driven film that their heart isn’t really in at some point in their career. He’s glad to see that studios have started greenlighting more and more movies intended to humble the actors involved.
“Taylor Kitsch, for example, is a fine young actor with lots of potential. Willem Dafoe, of course, is highly recognizable as a solid supporting actor. So they really needed to get their career suck-fest out of the way as early as possible, and they couldn’t have chosen a better project to do that with than “John Carter”. That movie was, to put it politely, a pile of shit. See, that film somehow managed to flop both commercially AND critically, so maybe, if we’re thinking in terms of good-to-bad movie ratios, they won’t have to star in as many complete duds in the future.”
What words of advice can Neeson give to those being forced to see “Wrath of the Titans” this weekend? None, although he says just closing your eyes is the easiest solution. If you really find it that unbearable, pretend you have to go to the washroom and sneak into “American Reunion”. Neeson insists that’s what he’ll be doing.
“You are going to forget these Titans,” he says, grinning. There’s no denying Liam Neeson’s a charming genius, the 51 weeks of the year he wants to be.