Actor Liam Neeson's Catholic faith and Irish heritage help guide the characters he portrays. One morning he was greeted by an ominous, red-breasted bird with a startling surprise.
- Posted on Jan 25, 2017
Actor Liam Neeson’s Catholic faith and Irish heritage have helped shape the characters he portrays, whether he’s in a hard-hitting true story like Schindler’s List or blockbuster fare like Batman Begins and the Taken series.
His most recent role was as a Jesuit priest in the film Silence, which premiered last December at the Vatican. Liam grew up steeped in Celtic legends passed on by his mother. One of which proved eerily true when he was first breaking into Hollywood.
Liam grew up in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, during the time of violence between Protestants and Catholics known as the Troubles. His father was a custodian of a school; his mother was a cook.
According to Liam, his father was the strong, quiet type, who “never said five words when two would do.” He spent hours and hours in his greenhouse, caring for the canaries he raised, perhaps as a way to find peace during difficult times.
Early in Liam’s career, he starred in stage productions in Dublin and London and in British films. In 1987, at age 35, he moved to California.
One morning Liam spotted a red-breasted bird on the ledge of the open bedroom window of his small apartment on Venice Beach. The bird flew inside and circled the room three times, only to resume its perch on the ledge.
Liam got up to close the window, and the bird flew off toward the heavens, out of sight.
“I went back to bed and I started thinking about my father. Like, really thinking about my father,” Liam told the interviewer James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio. “There’s a legend: If a bird comes into your house it’s a sign of death.”
Liam wasn’t the only one to encounter a bird that morning. “My sister Bernadette, she had a similar experience with a pigeon…she started thinking about our father too.”
About an hour later, Liam and Bernadette received word from back home—their father had passed away.