Liam Neeson may soon be done taking down bad guys. The actor, who has become known for his many butt-kicking action roles over the last several years, recently revealed that he doesn’t plan on starring in thrillers like the Taken franchise for much longer.
“Maybe two more years — if God spares me, and I’m healthy,” Neeson said of how long he’ll keep up his action star image, according to the Guardian. “But after that, I’ll stop [the action], I think.”
Leaving action behind would mark a major shift in Neeson’s career. The actor first put his intimidating stature and gravelly voice to good use as ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills in 2008’s smash hit Taken. The film was so successful it spurred two more sequels that have since brought the franchise’s total worldwide gross to nearly $900 million. It also helped turn the 62-year-old into the go-to actor for roles requiring – to put it in the words of Mills – a very “particular set of skills.”
Since the original Taken, Neeson has cultivated an on-screen tough guy persona with films like the 2010 A-Team remake, 2011’s Unknown and 2012’s Battleship. Last year, he also starred in the thriller Non-Stop and the crime drama A Walk Among the Tombstone. Portraying these take-no-prisoners characters has helped catapult Neeson into next-level stardom and elevated his blockbuster status. But while watching the actor dole out physical punishment to criminals has become one of moviegoers’ favorite pastimes, Neeson himself admits he can only play that card for so long.
“I’m in a very, career-wise, great place,” Neeson explained, per The Guardian. “The success of certainly the Taken films, Hollywood seems to see me in a different light. I get sent quite a few action-oriented scripts, which is great. I’m not knocking it. It’s very flattering. But there is a limit, of course.”
So can Neeson really shed the action star image he’s built up so effectively? Though some younger audiences may have already forgotten, the actor wasn’t always known as a deadly serious badass. Prior to his recent bullets-and-chase-oriented projects, Neeson was best known for showing off his dramatic acting chops in films like Schindler’s List (a role that earned him a Best Actor nod at the Oscars) and Michael Collins. He also made memorable appearances in other non-action films, including Love Actually and Chloe. Watching Neeson take down bad guy after bad guy since then has been unquestionably fun, but it’s also getting repetitive. With the actor having now solidified his place as an in-demand leading actor over the last few years, it seems like a good time as any for him to return to these roots.
While diving back into more substantial, dramatic fare may prove to be a refreshing and welcome change of pace for both the actor and moviegoers, fans of his action work shouldn’t despair just yet. The actor is set to return to the genre in this month’s Run All Night. Also on his jam-packed upcoming slate of projects are the upcoming comedy sequel Ted 2, the 2016 fantasy drama A Monster Calls, and the Martin Scorsese-directed historical drama Silence.