Liam Neeson Investigates More Than His Soul in Kinsey
by Brad Balfour
Originally posted on November 17, 2004.
Oscar-winning actor Liam Neeson doesn’t shy away from tough roles. When he took on Oskar Schindler for Steven Spielberg, he faced a challenge but now that he’s tackled Kinsey, he has handled some difficult tasks for award-winning director Bill Condon—aging 30 years, sounding distinctly American and performing several homosexual loves scenes. But this Irish-born actor has met other challenges before— from playing dark anti-heroes to landing a key role in Star Wars. While he will star in another classic hero tale, Batman Begins, the early praise for Kinsey suggests that he will be a contender for another Oscar.
You’ve done a few films where you’ve played real people. What draws you to historical films and the realm of nonfiction?
Well, I’ve made 44 films and four times I’ve played real characters. I’m just drawn to people who have a pioneer spirit, this extraordinary energy and commitment to their cause. That’s certainly true of Michael Collins, Schindler, and to a certain extent, most definitely, Alfred Kinsey. Maybe I’m drawn to them because I’m a lazy slob myself. I just love to see people with energy that just burn up their day with their quest for what they’re after.
What did you know of Kinsey before?
Very little. In my general reading in my ‘20s, I became aware of the Kinsey Reports and the effect they had of American society.
What were the challenges for you to get into this character?
From an acting point of view, I bear no relation. I don’t look like Alfred Kinsey at all, but thought somewhere in my artist, actor’s soul, I could capture something of the spirit of the man. Then there’s obviously the accent, the way of walking, and there’s the age range—Laura and I have to go from 30 years of age up to 62. So we wanted to do that as subtly as possible, and not draw attention to it. At the [Kinsey’s] Sex Institute in Bloomington, Indiana, they were a phenomenal help, too. We went out there for a few days, and they gave us access to materials. And the biographies, there are four or five, ranging from very poor to excellent.