Liam Neeson has done nine action movies in the last seven years; everything from fantasy like Clash of the Titans to crime thrillers like Non-Stop to ’80s TV show send-ups such as The A-Team. It’s not a career path Neeson planned on taking. He had dabbled in action roles with Batman Begins and The Phantom Menace, but the actor was most well-known for his dramatic work in movies like Schindler’s List and Kinsey. Taken changed all of that in 2008 when it pulled a whopping $226.8 million at the box office. Suddenly, at 61, Neeson found himself to be Hollywood’s newest action star. Neeson told GQ that he simply wanted to try some action stuff and never imagined it becoming such a hit.
“I really thought it would be kind of a little side road from my so-called career. Really thought it would go straight to video. But it just got great word of mouth.”
Neeson eventually did Taken 2, which had even bigger box office success, pulling in $376 million. The third — and supposedly final — film in the series comes out this weekend, and it’s likely to break the series’ own record once again. To celebrate agent Bryan Mills’ particular set of skills, here are a few pieces of trivia you might not know about Liam Neeson’s ass-kicking trilogy.
1. Liam Neeson did the first film to get a free vacation and karate lessons. Adam Sandler got knocked for signing on for Blended just so he could get a free trip to Africa, but he’s not the only star guilty of taking work simply for the shooting location. Liam Neeson never expected the movie to do nearly as well as it did, and reportedly took the part because it meant that he would get to spend four months in Paris and learn karate.
For the martial arts buffs out there, the fighting style he learned is something called Nagasu Dol; a combination of Judo, Aikido, and Ju Jitsu that’s really good for Judo chopping bad guys in the throat.
2. In addition to martial arts skills, Liam Neeson was trained by a Special Air Service soldier. Neeson had done a few action movies prior to Taken, but to perfect those knife-wielding skills for maximum throat slashing, the actor received weapons training from Former Special Air Service soldier Mick Gould, who trained actors on films like Heat, Collateral, and Ronin.
Here’s a montage of Gould showing actors how to kick ass.
3. Sixty-five confirmed kills. If you’re counting the body pileup in the first film, Bryan kills between 32 and 35 people in order to save Kim. In the second film, he manages to kill 30 people. With any luck, he’ll hit 100 kills by the time the credits roll in the third movie.