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Liam Neeson on importance of getting his voice right for a part

Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson has played numerous iconic roles throughout his career. He has portrayed historical giants like Michael Collins and Oscar Schindler, as well as mythical legends Zeus and Aslan.

Neeson is truly one of the world’s great actors, not only for his on-screen appearance, but also his ability to adjust his voice to fit his character.

The Co Antrim native took time out to discuss his vocal versatility with Esquire magazine.

Liam Neeson. Photo copyright Tiff CC2

He spoke about working with Steven Spielberg on Schindler’s List, and what the director wanted from him regarding his voice: “I remember Steven wanted a rich cigarette, cognac voice. I never drank cognac. I used to be a smoker, so maybe I had a residue left.”

Neeson said director Neil Jordan was obsessed about the accuracy of his vocal performance of Irish nationalist Michael Collins, in the film of the same name. Neeson had to adjust his voice to play the role with a Cork accent, Collins’ home county. He then added that Jordan is a “terrific writer”.

One of his most famous is as Bryan Mills in the action thriller Taken trilogy. Neeson said no conscious decision was made about the voice of the character: “I think you can work on a certain gravitas with a voice. In Taken, he’s a man of few words, lots of action. He never struck me as someone with a high-pitched voice.”

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Neeson has recently provided the voice of poet Mustafa in The Prophet. He said: “I did read Gibran’s The Prophet when I was 17 or 18. I thought it was beautiful, but it bounced off me—I didn’t have life experience. Now that I’m 63, I’m the father of two boys, reading it again, it’s a richer experience.”

To read the Neeson interview in full, visit

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