It’s an easy, almost reassuring pastime, watching Liam Neeson take out bad guys with relative ease in films like the Taken series, The Commuter and Blacklight. But now, he’s facing a different kind of enemy: dementia.
In Memory, directed by Casino Royale’s Martin Campbell, Neeson plays a veteran assassin struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, causing him to second-guess his mission at every turn.
“There was quite a bit of research to do, some of it was very harrowing,” Neeson tells ABC Audio, saying prepping for the part included reading books and watching documentaries on the topic. “I wanted to get it right, and not over-act it and try and be subtle about it. I worked very closely with Martin Campbell on those aspects of the character.”
The 69-year-old actor adds Alzheimer’s is a condition he’s all too familiar with. “I have a good friend from back home who is in the early stages of dementia,” he shares. “It was worrying to see him and be in his presence. But also the actor part of me too was like grabbing onto things, and thinking I could use that, you know what I mean? And I’m ashamed to say that.”
Memory also co-stars Monica Bellucci, and Guy Pearce as an FBI agent with a dodgy past tracking Neeson’s every move. Pearce tells ABC Audio the two characters have a lot of fixing to do in terms of their moral compasses.
“I think that there’s probably a reaching out, a bit of a desperation by both of these men to connect and be more humane,” he says. “Martin Campbell, our director, was very keen to uphold…the emotional story in this and not just have be a sort of psychological thriller or an action film.”
Memory is now playing exclusively in theaters.
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