Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 May 2016

30 years after The Mission, Liam Neeson to play priest again

By Colin O'Carroll

Published 05/08/2014

Liam Neeson playing a Jesuit priest in The Mission
Liam Neeson playing a Jesuit priest in The Mission

Almost 30 years after playing a Jesuit priest in blockbuster The Mission, Liam Neeson is donning his robes once more to play another clerical role.

Once again the Ballymena acting powerhouse is a member of the 'Soldiers of Christ' order, but this time rather than trying to convert and protect native tribes in 18th century south America, he's risking life, limb and soul to spread the gospel among Buddhists in Japan 100 years earlier.

The Martin Scorsese film Silence documents the persecution of Christians in the Asian country, which was still a feudal society at that time.

Neeson will play the role of Jesuit Father Ferreira.

Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield will play the younger Father Rodriguez, who travels to Japan in search of his spiritual mentor, following reports that Father Ferreira has strayed from his faith.

Adam Driver, who is starring in the forthcoming Star Wars VII which has recently been filming off the coast of Co Kerry, has been cast in the role of Rodriguez' companion, Father Francisco Garrpe.

The Japanese at first tolerated the Jesuits when they arrived in the 1500s and they converted half a million people, with Christian churches becoming visible throughout the land which had once seen only Buddhist temples.

But in the 17th century the authorities reversed their policy of tolerance and Christianity was banned.

Japanese military officials ruthlessly rooted out Christians for persecution and execution.

Among those executed for their faith were St Paul Miki and Companions, who were tortured in Nagasaki in 1597 by having their noses and ears cut off, then were crucified on a hill overlooking the city.

Scorsese has history with religious themes, violence and working with Neeson.

The US heavyweight also directed the controversial Last Temptation Of Christ, which depicted the crucified Jesus imagining another, easier life in which he married Mary Magdalen, who had borne his children.

He's also worked with Neeson on the ultra-violent Gangs Of New York.

The Mission also starred one of Scorsese's other favourite actors Robert De Niro along with Jeremy Irons, Neeson's fellow Irish actors Ray McAnally and Aidan Quinn and love interest Cherie Lunghi.

It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and had a best-selling soundtrack.

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