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Liam Neeson Loves Being an Action Star

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At 58 years old, many people are already dreaming of retirement – but not Liam Neeson, who has lately become a bankable action star.

“I seem to have gotten a new lease on life since Taken was so successful,” Neeson told reporters Saturday at a press junket for his upcoming action-thriller Unknown.

As a victim of amnesia and identity theft, Neeson’s character finds himself in many precarious situations that include a lot of hand-to-hand combat.

Neeson – an amateur boxer in his teens – didn’t even regard the fight scenes as stunts. He called the choreographed “scrappy” battles a “wonderful ballet.”

But there is one thing that does get the graying actor’s heart pounding – water.

“I came to water late. I learned to swim at the age of 20,” said the star, whose character is knocked unconscious when his cab careens into a river.

“It was very, very scary for me [to film that scene]. I could feel the water coming up and once it got [above my nose] I just panicked,” he says. “So [the stunt coordinator] told me to take deep breaths and lower myself in to the seat which was much easier.”

Looking forward to a career that continues to balance art-house character pieces and studio action flicks, Neeson plans on maintaining his workout regime as well as some extracurricular exercising.

“I keep fit as much as I can,” he says, jokingly adding, “lots of sex.”

To see how Liam Neeson answered questions sent in by PEOPLE readers, pick up the latest issue, on newsstands now