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Liam Neeson Is Go-To Global Star, Takes on Matt Scudder in 'A Walk Among the Tombstones'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 13, 2013 at 2:26PM

In a world where you can't count on many movie stars--Tom Cruise? Will Smith?--and foreign sales financing dictates non-studio indie production, most of it formula genre fare aimed at a global market, Liam Neeson is king. The "Schindler's List" and "Taken" star has taken the place of aging tentpole anchors Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino as the older guy with authority, gravitas and menace who can handle some action and romance as well as carry a movie in multiple markets around the world. He can believably play presidents and kings, fathers, lovers and action heroes. His presence even for a short bit in a movie is worth millions and can get it made.
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Liam Neeson in "Taken 2"
Liam Neeson in "Taken 2"

In a world where you can't count on many movie stars--Tom Cruise? Will Smith?--and foreign sales financing dictates non-studio indie production, mostly formula genre fare aimed at a global market, Liam Neeson is king.

The "Schindler's List" and "Taken" star has taken the place of aging tentpole anchors Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino as the older guy with authority, gravitas and menace who can handle some action and romance as well as carry a movie in multiple markets around the world. He can believably play presidents and kings, fathers, lovers and action heroes. His presence even for a short bit in a movie is worth millions and can get it made.

He's the guy producers are dying to add to their ensembles. Next up for Neeson: He's taking on a would-be franchise character based on the global bestselling Matt Scudder crime series by Lawrence Block in writer-director Scott Frank's thriller "A Walk Among the Tombstones." The movie backed by producers Cross Creek Pictures ("Black Swan") and Exclusive Media ("End of Watch") started production in New York this week. Other producers are Double Features' Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher ("Django Unchained") and Jersey Films' Danny DeVito. Universal will release "Tombstones" in North America.

The movie's cast also includes "Downtown Abbey" star Dan Stevens, Ruth Wilson ("Anna Karenina"), Boyd Holbrook("Milk"), David Harbour ("End of Watch"), Mark Consuelos ("American Horror Story"), and musician Astro ("X Factor"). More production details below.

This article is related to: Liam Neeson, In The Works


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.