Liam Neeson has now played a priest in two Martin Scorsese films where his fate is sealed in the opening act. In Gangs of New York he was a vengeful Father who’d fight in the streets. In Silence, he does not die, but confronted with death in the opening act this priest, Father Ferreira, does something far worse in the eyes of the Church. Father Ferreira chooses to denounce God to spare his life and the lives of his fellow Japanese villagers. It’s this decision that the young priests he mentored (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) cannot fathom and leave Portugal to attempt to find out for themselves if he truly apostatised and living as a Buddhist or if he’s been imprisoned.
Neeson has actually played many priests throughout his career, not just for Scorsese, and it was working on the 1986 film, The Mission, that first introduced him to the Jesuit faith. The actor has since continued to research the Jesuits, the Catholic subsect that highly promotes education and finding faith within doubt, which no doubt made him an easy first call for Scorsese when making this film.
Back in December, I sat down with the actor to talk about the Jesuits, his interpretation of the character and also how the martyrdom depicted in the film is very different from the martyrdom that is occurring now in religious disputes. The film is now playing nationwide and you can read my review by clicking here.