Liam Neeson 'Still Coming to Terms' with Violent Childhood Memory: 'Formed Something of My Character'

The actor tells AARP The Magazine about a childhood memory that has stuck with him as "kind of a post-traumatic stress disorder"

Liam Neeson is opening up about a violent memory that still sticks with him to this day.

In a new cover story for AARP The Magazine's April/May 2022 issue, the actor discusses his new action movie Memory, in which he plays an aging hitman struggling with dementia. Neeson spoke about his own memories, including one from his childhood that was traumatic for him.

"When I was growing up, in these little terrace houses, I remember hearing our neighbor next door being beat up by her drunken husband every weekend," he recalled. "He's dead now, but that's a memory I am still coming to terms with. I'm talking 50 years ago. It's kind of a post-traumatic stress disorder."

"I don't know if it has scarred me, but it has definitely formed something of my character," said Neeson, 69. "Maybe you're right — maybe even when I play these violent roles, I'm trying to bring some quality of redemption or justice."

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John Russo

Neeson also reflected on growing up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, witnessing violence in Belfast at the time.

"This past January was the 50th anniversary of what is known as Bloody Sunday, when British paratroopers murdered 13 of our people in the streets of Derry, in the north of Ireland," he explained. "And I remember the next day, when everything was incredibly quiet and very, very sinister. I lived in Belfast during a lot of that. And I think back on it now. Why did I survive that?"

liam neeson
Liam Neeson. Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Neeson told AARP The Magazine that he did "quite a bit of research on Alzheimer's" to prepare for his Memory role.

"My elder sister, she has a very close pal who is suffering from dementia, and he cannot remember stuff from 5, 10, 15 minutes ago. So, in Memory, I work in little bits of stammering or clumsiness that grab people in the audience who know someone who's suffering from it, from dementia or Alzheimer's," he explained. "But I wanted to keep it very, very subtle, because it could become jokey if I overdid the dementia."

He added, "This film is supposed to be a piece of entertainment, so hopefully there's a few thrills and spills. But there is a deeper story to be told."

Memory is in theaters April 29.

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