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Liam Neeson tipped to follow Eastwood and Reagan into world of politics

By Claire McNeilly

Published 22/04/2015

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson

Is Liam Neeson trying to break into politics?

The Ballymena-born Hollywood star has been particularly vocal on a range of subjects recently, from gun control in the US to the welfare of New York's Central Park horses - and he has even been advising young men not to consider marriage until they are at least in their mid-thirties.

Neeson, now 62, recently announced he would be quitting action roles within the next two years, prompting speculation in America that he could move onto the political stage.

Former Ballymena mayor PJ McAvoy, who knows Neeson well, is convinced he would make an articulate, popular politician on either side of the Atlantic.

Neeson, of course, wouldn't be the first A-list actor to move into politics and would be following the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and Ronald Reagan in the US and Glenda Jackson in the UK.

"Living in a metropolis like New York, going into politics is something that could be brought to his attention," said Mr McAvoy.

"Especially with his personality; a lot of politicians go in on the basis of their personality.

"He's one of the most popular actors in the world at the moment, there's no doubt about it. His movies have been great box office successes."

Mr McAvoy believes this could be the ideal time for Neeson to go off in a new direction, now that he has got his life back on track following the tragic death of his wife Natasha six years ago.

"In the aftermath of his wife's death, it was a different world for him," the ex-councillor said.

"The only thing that mattered was raising his two sons and getting them through their education. That was basically what he was endeavouring to get done. But they're in their late teens now.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he went into politics because I feel it could be in his nature to want to help people. He's that sort of person. And obviously within the context of that there's a very broad scope to be able to do something of that nature.

"If he went into politics I think it would go down well with people on both sides of the Atlantic."

Neeson, now one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood despite his advancing years, angered the American gun lobby recently when he hit out at the proliferation of firearms in America.

His stance - which is similar to that of the Democratic Party - brought him into conflict with PARA USA, the gun manufacturer which provided weapons for his action sequel Taken 3.

Indeed, the organisation said it was severing all ties with the actor and urged all other manufacturers to follow suit.

Meanwhile, as a longtime supporter of carriage horse drivers in Central Park, the action man said the industry shouldn't be banned - and criticised New York City's super-liberal Mayor Bill DeBlasio on-air for suggesting it.

He will also co-produce A Mad and Wonderful Thing, based on the Mark Mullholland debut novel of the same name, which tells the story of a young IRA sniper and is said to have been inspired by Mulholland's younger brother, Darren, who was 20 years old when he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for conspiring to plant bombs in London.

Neeson, incidentally, was director Steven Spielberg's first choice the play the title role in Lincoln but ultimately withdrew, saying he was too old for the part. He was replaced by Daniel Day-Lewis, who won an Oscar for his depiction of the 16th President of the United States.

Four who famously switched from film spotlight to a place in politics

Austria-born Arnold Schwarzenegger gained worldwide fame as one of Hollywood's biggest action film heroes, thanks to box office hits like The Terminator. When he was in his mid-fities he went on to serve two terms as the Governor of California,from 2003 until 2011.

Ronald Reagan went from being a Warner Bros film star to president of the Screen Actors Guild, before assuming the governorship of California (1967-75). Aged 70 when first elected, he then served two terms as President of the United States (1981-89).

Glenda Jackson, Labour Party politician and former Junior Minister from 1997 to 1999, worked as an actress and won two Academy Awards for Best Actress - for Women in Love (1970) and A Touch of Class (1973).

Clint Eastwood rose to fame as the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns in the 1960s, and as a cop in the five Dirty Harry films in the 1970s and 1980s. He served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, from 1986 to 1988.

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