Liam Neeson is kicking ass and saving his kid yet again in Jaume Collet-Serra’s Run All Night. Here he plays Jimmy Conlon, a Brooklyn hitman with a significant body count working for his longtime friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). They’ve been loyal to each other for many, many years, but when Jimmy has no choice but to kill Shawn’s son (Boyd Holbrook) to save his own (Joel Kinnaman), Shawn vows to destroy him.
With Run All Night making its way into theaters nationwide on March 13th, I got the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with Neeson, Harris and a few other journalists. Some of the questions are certainly a little offbeat, but we did touch on Jimmy and Shawn’s relationship, when Neeson’s run as an action hero might come to an end, what Liam Neeson thinks about Liam Neeson (really) and more. Check it all out in the interview below.
Question: So what does Liam Neeson say about Liam Neeson?
ED HARRIS: Go for it, man. Good luck! [Laughs]
LIAM NEESON: What do you want me to say?
How does it feel to be Liam Neeson?
NEESON: I’m in a very – career wise – great place. The success of these, certainly the first Taken films. Hollywood seems to see me in a different light. I get sent quite a few action-oriented scripts, which is great. I’m not mocking it. It’s terrific. I’m very flattered. The knees are still holding on.
That scene in the restaurant, it’s simple and subtle but my god, the intensity between you two. I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I love, give us more!’ Was there any improv, what’s running through your minds then?
HARRIS: I think we both were looking forward to doing that scene. It was very well scripted and it was shot very simply. We didn’t do a bunch of takes. We were just kind of into it and did it.
NEESON: It’s a well-written scene, yeah. Very well-written.
You both have stellar careers and so many great roles, but what is your personal relationship like?
NEESON: Ed and I had never met. We have mutual friends, but never met. This is the first time we’ve worked [together]. We’ve been joking about, ‘Shall we go and play golf, get to know each other, have meals together?’ No, we didn’t do any of that. Just get on with it.
HARRIS: There’s either chemistry between people or there isn’t. I just ride on his coattails, man. He’s been having these great successful films and I was real happy to just be asked to join along. But I think we have mutual respect for each other’s work and were looking forward to working together. We’re both professionals and love what we do. There’s no ego or bullsh*t involved. We’re just there working with each other so it just worked out.
Did you ever work out how your characters met? I know they go way, way back, but I have fun with the idea of them meeting in school or on the streets.
HARRIS: Yeah, I think probably our parents knew each other and we met when we were kids, as far as I recollect.
NEESON: Yeah, those days kids hung out with each other. You don’t make play dates. [Laughs]
HARRIS: Neighborhood pals.
NEESON: Formed a very, very close bond, served in Vietnam together, got involved with the Westies mafia-type life and he was very much the boss, he was very much the brains. We didn’t sort of cross every “t” and dot every “i.”
HARRIS: We didn’t sit down and make a history for each other. We just trusted we each had done that in a way and trusted the script and Jaume [Collet-Serra] and each other.
You mentioned it’s flattering that you keep getting offered these action roles. What is it like for both of you to still be kicking ass? There’s no limit as far as the barriers you guys are breaking down in your 60s, beating up people 20, 30 years younger.
NEESON: Well, there is a limit, of course. It’s the movies, you know. For myself, I probably – maybe two years if god spares me and I’m healthy and stuff. After that I’ll stop, I think.
NEESON: Yeah, the action-oriented scripts, sure, yeah.
HARRIS: We’ll see.
Is there anything from your personal lives that helps you relate to what happens in the script or makes you think, ‘Okay, that resonated with me?’
NEESON: I think there’s a lot of resonation from great American movies I was brought up on. You sort of think a little bit of The Godfather, think a little bit of Heat, State of Grace. Just these little snippets of films come into your head and you kind of celebrate that genre. I never went back and studied those films again for this. I just was aware that they were there and touched me some way as an actor, and I might be able to emulate some of that.
Your dialogue is great. Were there any lines that really stood out?
NEESON: It’s all scripted. It’s Brad Ingelsby’s words. We changed practically nothing, no kind of improv and stuff. It’s all Ingelsby.
HARRIS: Good Santa Claus action. [Laughs]
I want the two of you to set the record straight. Tell them how great it is to mature, gain confidence and then put it out on screen.
HARRIS: I feel fine about getting older because I’m in good shape. I’m 64 and I feel good.
Do you feel more confident now than before?
HARRIS: I guess so. I feel pretty comfortable with who I am. After a while, if you’re not, it’s like, what are you hoping for? [Laughs] I try to stay in shape and I’ve been married for 32 years and Amy [Madigan] and I get along great. Our daughter is healthy, studying art. Very blessed and thankful so, what are you gonna say? In terms of the work, I still really enjoy doing what I do and I do feel, as the years go by, you just accumulate more and more knowledge about what you do and you feel more and more confident about it. You’re always growing within it and that’s one thing I love about it. There’s always something to learn.
NEESON: There was a little article this morning. I’m only bringing it up because it’s now public domain. I was just reading about Nick Nolte, this tiny little thing in this magazine called The Week, which I get every – week. [Laughs] It’s the best of all the editorials. There’s a British one, too. This was a little interview Nick gave about he hates getting old, he wakes up every morning and he cries because he hates getting older and his body hurts. Once he starts moving he’s okay and that his family is getting older and they’re moving away. It’s just very, very sad. I literally just read it 20 minutes ago.
HARRIS: I don’t feel that way.
NEESON: I don’t feel that way.
You’re both fathers, so could you relate to the characters at all? Would you go that far to protect your children?
HARRIS: I don’t do a very good job of protecting mine. [Laughs]
Are you protective fathers?
NEESON: I think you just innately are.
HARRIS: Yeah. Not overly so. I have a daughter. Liam’s got sons, but I have a daughter and so she’s at college and stuff’s going on in the college campuses these days with women and rape and all that kind of thing. I’m certainly concerned, but I think she’s safe. She knows how to take care of herself hopefully, but it’s really appalling the statistics. One in every five women have been sexually abused in colleges these days. You’re afraid to report it. It’s just pitiful. It’s really sad.
NEESON: It’s great it’s being highlighted.
HARRIS: Yeah, talked about, dealt with.
Can you guys tell us more about filming the scenes in New York?
NEESON: Well, there was a lot of night shoots and we got to shoot in a lot of less salubrious places one might be used to. It’s terrific because then you kind of own the streets.
Were you guys in Queens?
NEESON: We were all over the place.
I saw some shots and was like, ‘I think I was there.’
NEESON: Lots of elevated trains.
When they pan out and zip from one location to another, it really gives you the size and the intensity of the city.
NEESON: That’s Jaume, that’s Jaume Collet-Serra.
Did they use drones for the aerials?
NEESON: No, I don’t think so. Ask Jaume that, I don’t think so.
HARRIS: Those shots were a total surprise to me. I don’t remember it being scripted – it’s not described in the script that way with those things. Those are cool.
You’re so far apart, but things are linked to one another.
NEESON: And it heightens the increasing tension.
How was it working with Jaume on this? Are you two just a well-oiled machine at this point or is there anything that he did that surprised you?
NEESON: He always surprises. I so trust the guy and his filmmaking technique and his vision. We have a very, very short-hand language with each other. Again, like with Ed, we don’t sit down and analyze stuff. He’ll just give these beautiful little notes every now and again that’s enough, you know? He just has a real good intuitive sense of what works and what doesn’t.
HARRIS: It was really nice coming into that situation not having worked with either Liam or Jaume before, but knowing they had worked together and just feeling that comfortability that they had made me feel even more at ease in terms of joining the party.