William John Neeson was born June 7th, 1952 in Northern Ireland. In 1981 he made his debut in Excalibur with a very small part, and 12 years later he won the role of Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List which put him firmly on the map.
He’s had important roles in many of his films but very rarely played the lead. That changed in 2009 with Taken, a movie that turned him from a mentor that often died (*SPOILERS* Batman Begins, Gangs of New York, Kingdom of Heaven, Star Wars) to a bonafide badass in subsequent films such Unknown, The A-Team, and now in The Grey and the upcoming Taken sequel, although he is going back to mentor mode in Battleship this year.
Today we take a look at Liam Neeson’s top 10 biggest box office hits in North America, unadjusted.
I’ll start with a bit of a disclaimer first, after a long debate between me and myself, I’ve decided to include the first film in the Chronicles of Narnia series where Liam Neeson voices the lion Aslan (even though Box Office Mojo won’t). The subsequent movies won’t be featured here because his part in them became much shorter.
10. Unknown (2011) $63.6 million – An engaging thriller about a man that loses his identity after a car accident. So what do you do when not even your wife recognizes you? Well, to find out you have to watch Unknown and trust me, it’s not a waste of time.
9. The A-Team (2010) $77.2 million – A fun action flick based on the popular 80’s hit TV series. It’s a bit light on brain cells but definitely makes up for that with great action set pieces. Don’t listen to the haters out there, give it a try, there’s nothing wrong with some brainless fun now and again.
8. Gangs of New York (2002) $77.8 million – Martin Scorsese’s epic about the gang wars in 19th century New York. Liam Neeson plays Leonardo DiCaprio’s dad in the film, a short yet pivotal part. I said it before, I’ll say it again, Gangs of New York is a must see.
7. The Haunting (1999) $91.4 million – I remember being so hyped for this back in 1999, although I can’t remember exactly why. Probably a combination of the previews and the general premise of the film. If The Grey is Liam Neeson against wolves, The Haunting was him against ghosts, with a twist thrown for good measure.
6. Schindler’s List (1993) $96 million – The story of a true superhero for over 1100 people and winner of 7 Oscars in 1994 including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg. Liam Neeson had to settle for a nomination only. Schindler’s List is not an easy film to watch but if you can (and you should), it’s definitely worth every second of those 3 hours and 15 minutes.
5. Taken (2009) $145 million – One of the great action flicks of the last few years, for me at least, up there with the likes of Casino Royale and The Bourne Ultimatum. After grossing little over $80 million internationally over the course of 2008, the film finally opened in the US in January 2009. By that time it was already available on Blu-ray and DVD in many countries around the world yet Taken opened with $24.7 million during the Super Bowl Weekend and went on to gross $145 million, becoming one of the biggest surprise hits of that year. In October Fox will release a completely unnecessary sequel that I’ll probably end up watching opening night.
4. Clash of the Titans (2010) $163.2 million – Liam Neeson makes for a great Zeus here but everything else is just average at best. Suffice to say, in March I won’t be catching Wrath of the Titans on opening night.
3. Batman Begins (2005) $2005.3 million – How awesome was Liam Neeson here, right? Now this is obviously a fantastic movie, my favorite of the Nolan Batman flicks actually and having Liam Neeson return in The Dark Knight Rises makes me scream like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) $291.7 million – So Aslan being a metaphor for God here, there’s no surprise that Liam Neeson’s deep gravelly voice was a perfect fit. Based on C. S. Lewis’ famous children novel, the movie became a massive success for Disney but none of the sequels that followed managed to recreate the same magic or box office numbers. It’s a great family movie, a must have in any DVD or Blu-ray collection.
1. Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999) $431 million – The film Star Wars fans love to hate. I was 12 when I saw this in theaters and at the time I can say that I enjoyed myself, it was a good time at the movies. Today I can see why some hate The Phantom Menace so much (Jar Jar, you devil you) but I personally still can’t join their ranks. I can’t help myself, it might not be a great movie but it’s certainly not a bad one either, for me at least.
Finally a movie that didn’t make this top 10 but certainly would make my personal one, Kingdom of Heaven. A great movie even thought Liam Neeson had a rather short part. Then there’s also Love Actually, great date movie, definitely one his best. Also he was rather badass in Sam Raimi’s Darkman way back in 1990. So what’s your favorite Liam Neeson film?