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Liam Neeson's 10 most intimidating roles

Writer: Casey Chong


Connor (Lewis MacDougall) and the Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) in "A Monster Calls".

Voicing a non-human role is not a strange thing to Liam Neeson. After all, the actor can be seen doing so in movies like "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe" and "The The Lego Movie".

The list just keeps growing with his upcoming voice performance as the Monster in the form of a yew tree, in J.A. Bayona's fantasy drama "A Monster Calls".

And with "A Monster Calls" approaching cinemas this October, we have compiled and handpicked 10 of Liam Neeson's most intimidating roles that he has played over the course of his storied decades-long career.

1. Peyton Westlake/Darkman, "Darkman" (1990)

Liam Neeson as Darkman in "Darkman".

When "Darkman" was first screened in cinemas back in 1990, the then-young Liam Neeson wasn't particularly a well-known Hollywood acting commodity at that time. But his dedicated performance as the doomed scientist Peyton Westlake is a textbook example of how to nail a sympathetic anti-hero character. Also thanks to Sam Raimi's unique comic-book sensibility (yes, this was way before he made it big with the first "Spider-Man" trilogy), he manages to make good use of Neeson's versatile acting skill from acting all dramatic to letting loose in some of his trademark tongue-in-cheek moments.

2. Rob Roy MacGregor, "Rob Roy" (1995)

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor in "Rob Roy".

Long before Liam Neeson was known for his late-career resurgence's action-oriented roles seen in popular movies such as "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" and "Taken", he already proved his worth by playing a physically-demanding role in "Rob Roy". Released in the same year as other high-profile historical movies including Richard Gere's "First Knight" and Mel Gibson's "Braveheart", "Rob Roy" was best known for Neeson's unforgettable performance as the charismatic 18th-century Scottish noble hero and legendary outlaw, Rob Roy MacGregor. His rugged appearance was spot-on and even engaged a memorable final sword duel against Tim Roth's Archibald Cunningham, whose sinister performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

3. Qui-Gon Jinn, "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" (1999)

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace".

George Lucas' 1999-2005 prequel trilogy to the legendary original "Star Wars" trilogy (1977-1983) may have met with harsh criticism, but the prequel trilogy does benefit with a few positive outcomes. One of them, of course, is the memorable appearance of Qui-Gon Jinn in "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace". Thanks to Liam Neeson, he brought a commanding presence to his no-nonsense role as the Jedi master and also the mentor of Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi. His final lightsaber battle alongside Obi-Wan against Darth Maul (Ray Park) is ranked as one of the best action scenes ever staged in a "Star Wars" movie.

4. Ra's al Ghul, "Batman Begins" (2005)

Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul, seen here confronting Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in "Batman Begins".

In the first movie of "The Dark Knight" trilogy, Christopher Nolan made the right decision of casting Liam Neeson as Bruce Wayne/Batman's (Christian Bale) main antagonist, Ra's al Ghul. In fact, the reason Neeson plays such a memorable character in "Batman Begins" is the shady transformation within his layered performance from a father figure/mentor-like Henri Ducard who teaches Bruce Wayne the art of fighting and survival, to a vicious villain, Ra's al Ghul, who tries to kill Batman and destroy Gotham City at the same time.

5. Aslan, "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe" (2005)

Liam Neeson voiced Aslan the lion in "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe".

Based on C.S. Lewis' popular novel of the same name, "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe" is the first big-screen adaptation that successfully made a killing at the worldwide box office and even scored favourable reviews among many fans and critics. Blessed with stunning special effects and a fine acting ensemble including Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy and Jim Broadbent, this charming children's fantasy movie is also best remembered for Liam Neeson's voice performance as Aslan. His typically authoritative voice suits him well to play the intimidating lion role with a great sense of dignity and majesty.

6. Bryan Mills, "Taken" (2008)

Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in "Taken".

By the time the first "Taken" hit cinemas in 2008, Liam Neeson was already in his mid-50s. The action thriller, which centred on Bryan Mills, a former CIA operative forced to use every available skill he has to rescue his kidnapped teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), was a surprise box-office hit and also spawned two (inferior) sequels. The overall storyline may have been a standard action-movie template, but what made the first "Taken" such a modern genre classic is the engaging presence of Liam Neeson. The Irish-born actor is hardly known as an action star but yet he manages to convince otherwise as an ex-CIA operative with a nifty set of skills including weaponry and martial arts. Impressive physical prowess aside, who could have forgotten his memorable threatening phone call to the kidnapper?

7. Zeus, "Clash Of The Titans" (2010)

Liam Neeson as Zeus in "Clash Of The Titans".

In this expensive 3D remake of 1981's "Clash Of The Titans", the stars of the show may belong to Sam Worthington's engaging presence as the lead protagonist, Perseus, as well as the gallery of special effects, but Liam Neeson's supporting role as Zeus deserves a special mention as well. As the ruler of the Ancient Greek God of Mount Olympus, Neeson certainly hits the spot playing the particular role. You have to admit he truly rocked a killer beard and a bad-** attitude when he delivered the single most memorable line in the movie, in which he utters "Release the Kraken!"

8. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, "The A-Team" (2010)

Liam Neeson as Col. John "Hannibal" Smith in "The A-Team".

While the late George Peppard owns the role of Col. John "Hannibal" Smith in the popular '80s TV series of "The A-Team", Liam Neeson did an equally splendid job in playing the iconic cigar-chomping character in the 2010 big screen version. Apart from delivering the right amount of suave personality and no-nonsense charisma, Neeson also got to deliver the famous catchphrase, "I love it when a plan comes together".

9. John Ottway, "The Grey" (2012)

Liam Neeson as John Ottway in "The Grey".

Man vs. nature in a movie is definitely nothing new, but director Joe Carnahan manages to hit the spot in "The Grey", a survival thriller involving a group of oil rig workers stranded in the freezing Alaskan wilderness and is also forced to deal with a pack of hungry wolves. The centrepiece of this movie is, of course, Liam Neeson who delivers an emotionally captivating performance as the expert marksman John Ottway. You have to applaud how committed he is to his physically-demanding role, especially the setting which was reportedly shot on location in British Columbia (a stand-in for the Alaskan wilderness) in... sub-zero weather conditions!

10. Good Cop/Bad Cop, "The Lego Movie" (2014)

Liam Neeson voiced Good Cop/Bad Cop in "The Lego Movie".

Everything is definitely awesome for "The Lego Movie", ranging from Chris Pratt's enthusiastic lead voice performance as Emmet Brickowski to the movie's vibrant 3D computer-generated animation. But let's not forget about Liam Neeson as well, who nailed his voice performance that alternates between good-nature and pure evil playing the two-faced Good Cop/Bad Cop with split personality disorder.

"A Monster Calls" opens in cinemas nationwide on 20 October 2016.

Cinema Online, 14 October 2016

Related Movies:
A Monster Calls (20 Oct 2016)
Run All Night (12 Mar 2015)
Taken 3 (08 Jan 2015)
The A-TEAM (10 Jun 2010)
Wrath Of The Titans (29 Mar 2012)
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