Liam Neeson

“Liam Neeson was the hero in Schindler’s List.  He is Irish but for many years has worked in the United States. Before coming to Krakow he was on Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie.  Neeson is an excellent actor but is not considered a major star. Spielberg did not want a star for Schindler. He did not want “stardom” to overpower the character. Therefore it took a long time to select a suitable actor. There were all kinds of rumors — Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, and several Polish actors along with Neeson were being considered. Neeson was physically the most like Oskar Schindler, but he wasn’t chosen to play Schindler until Spielberg, his wife Kate, and her mother went to the theater to see Neeson in Anna Christie. After the performance they went back stage. Kate’s mother was quite moved from the performance and Liam Neeson was so pleased that he embraced her and kissed her on both cheeks. That gesture was the deciding factor. Spielberg thought Oskar Schindler, too, would react like that. A week later Neeson received Spielberg’s invitation to play the lead in the film, which was six months after his screen test.” (Palowski, 1998)

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