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Liam the brave

Since the surprise hit “Taken,” critically acclaimed stage and screen actor Liam Neeson has been enjoying a new phase of his career — this time as an action star.

Since the surprise hit “Taken,” critically acclaimed stage and screen actor Liam Neeson has been enjoying a new phase of his career — this time as an action star. And it’s something Neeson doesn’t take for granted. “I seem to have gotten a new lease on life since this ‘Taken’ movie was successful,” he says. “At the age of 58, it’s great to get to be that kind of an action hero.”

Neeson continues in the same vein with his latest, “Unknown,” a thriller about a doctor who falls into a coma while visiting Berlin only to awaken to find his wife doesn’t recognize him and another man has assumed his identity. Shooting on location in Germany, Neeson found himself engaged once again in the world of car chases and brutal confrontations, which he’s admittedly grown accustomed to. “I don’t do my own stunts,” he says. “I do my own fighting, which I don’t regard as a stunt.”

As comfortable as he’s getting in his new role as an action star, the shoot wasn’t necessarily easy. “For a start, it was the coldest January and February in 20 years — and treacherously cold, too. Frost on the ground and ice, stuff like that,” Neeson says of the Berlin shoot. “There’s a lot of physical activity outside. There was a challenge in that, just to execute the film in those sorts of conditions.”

Neeson’s not a swimmer

One sequence proved troubling for Neeson — not because of the cold but because it involved water, something he’s not a fan of. “I’m not a very strong swimmer; I came to water late. In fact, I learned to swim at the age of 20,” Neeson says. So when it came time to film the sequence in which Diane Kruger rescues an unconscious Neeson from the back of a sinking taxi after it plunges into a river, he was apprehensive.

“It was very, very scary for me,” Neeson says. “I banged the window, I’m unconscious and just feeling the water coming up.” But as soon as the water level hit his forehead, Neeson says he panicked. “I wasn’t in control, that’s what it was about,” he says.

 
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