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Liam Neeson has shed the pounds for Martin Scorsese's movie 'Silence'

By Nevin Farrell

Published 16/11/2015

Priestly role: Liam Neeson
Priestly role: Liam Neeson

This is the picture that reveals why Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson lost so much weight.

In recent months concern was expressed in sections of the media about the gaunt appearance of the 63-year-old Ballymena actor.

But this photograph of him playing the role of a 17th century priest shows he had deliberately shed the pounds for the film.

Neeson is in director Martin Scorsese's historical drama 'Silence' in which two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread the gospel of Christianity.

Neeson said he dropped "20 pounds" (a stone-and-a-half) for the role.

He said: "Martin wanted us all to look a bit more gaunt, which (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) did as well. I know Adam went to the extreme.

"He's an ex-marine and when he's given an order, he follows it through. He was like something out of Auschwitz. Martin requires this level of (dedication) and I think it pays off.

And Neeson added: "Martin is intimidating. He's legendary - so as a performer you have to get over that. I had to get over that … he require(s) absolute silence on set, like everybody has to stop work when he's giving a direction or explaining a scene. I mean everybody - the guy that's painting 400 yards away has to stop. If he hears one tiny sound it's shattered for him so he commands that respect. He commands that silence and especially for this film it was necessary."

The new movie is expected to open late next year.

Meanwhile, Neeson said playing a priest has impacted deeply upon him.

He said: "Being raised an Irish Catholic myself, the subject of faith and Catholicism struck very deeply home. The question in the film is: Is there a god? We're all in some way asking ourselves that all the time. What is the purpose of life? What is faith? Why have faith? Why do we wake up in the morning and get out of bed?

"It's as basic as that and the film asks all these questions."

Belfast Telegraph

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