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Liam Neeson's son Micheal to play Collins in delayed 1916 movie

By Claire McNeilly

Published 23/03/2016

Micheal Neeson is planning to emulate his father Liam by starring as Michael Collins on big screen.
Micheal Neeson is planning to emulate his father Liam by starring as Michael Collins on big screen.
Liam Neeson in the 1996 movie

A big-budget movie planned to coincide with the centenary of the Easter Rising will miss its target date by at least a year.

The Rising, which was to feature the big screen debut of Liam Neeson's son Micheal, will not reach cinemas until next year at the earliest - and may not see the light of day until 2018.

Co-written and co-produced by Northern Ireland man Kevin McCann, the movie, which is supported by Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Board, had promised on its website that it would be "released to a global cinema audience in 2016, the centenary year of the Easter Rising".

The project attracted significant publicity with its casting of Micheal as Irish patriot and revolutionary Michael Collins - 20 years after Ballymena-born Liam's Golden Globe-nominated performance in the eponymously-titled classic directed by Neil Jordan.

Now, however, it has emerged that filming has not even started, with McCann currently attempting to obtain more funding for the homegrown project in the United States.

"It was unfortunate that we didn't get it ready for the anniversary, but the nature of film financing is changing by the day - it's been a challenge," McCann explained.

Ironically, the young Neeson had to be persuaded to take the Michael Collins role because he did not harbour ambitions to emulate his Hollywood star father.

"Dad was like: 'Please become a carpenter or something," Micheal told the London Evening Standard last year.

"On my Mum's side I was encouraged to do whatever I wanted. I've done a couple of drama courses.

"At the beginning I'd be shaking. Dad always said: 'Just take three deep breaths', and it does work, although you don't want anyone seeing you do it."

File photo dated 14/05/1916 of a view from Nelson's Column showing ruins in the city of Dublin. PA
File photo dated 14/05/1916 of a view from Nelson's Column showing ruins in the city of Dublin. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of Sackville Street (O'Connell St) and the River Liffey at Eden Quay showing the devastation wrought during the 'Easter Rising', as a trove of rarely-seen photographs lays bare the utter carnage wreaked on Dublin during the tumultuous Easter Rising 100 years ago this weekend. PA
File photo dated 30/04/1916 of British troops at a road block outside Cassidy's Grocery during the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916 as a trove of rarely-seen photographs lays bare the utter carnage wreaked on Dublin during the tumultuous Easter Rising 100 years ago this weekend. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of Sackville Street from the Nelson Column after the Rising in Dublin as a trove of rarely-seen photographs lays bare the utter carnage wreaked on Dublin during the tumultuous Easter Rising 100 years ago this weekend. PA
File photo dated 01/04/1916 of crowds outside Bow Street court, for the Roger Casement Trial as a trove of rarely-seen photographs lays bare the utter carnage wreaked on Dublin during the tumultuous Easter Rising 100 years ago this weekend. PA
File photo dated 01/05/1916 of children carrying wood from Sackville Street, Dublin after the Rising as a trove of rarely-seen photographs lays bare the utter carnage wreaked on Dublin during the tumultuous Easter Rising 100 years ago this weekend. PA
File photo dated 24/04/1916 of a poster issued by members of Sinn Fein proclaiming the creation of an Irish Republic. PA
File photo dated 11/05/21916 of souvenir hunters of all ages scrabble amongst the rubble in the streets of Dublin in the aftermath of the 'Easter Rising'. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of damage in Dublin from the top of the Nelson Pillar. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of the Dublin Savings Bank closed after the Rising. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of British soldiers guarding an improvised armoured car made from a locomotive boiler and used to convey troops from point to point during the 'Easter Rising'. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of the ruins of the General Post Office viewed from the top of Nelson's Column , Dublin as rebels, proclaiming an Irish Republic, seized control of the building on the 24th April. PA
File photo dated 25/04/1916 of the scene from O'Connell Street in Dublin. PA
File photo dated 11/05/1916 of a part of the ruins of the Picture Gallery . PA

Micheal (20) has already proven himself as an actor, winning plaudits alongside his 63-year-old father in one of the most expensive adverts ever made - LG's showcase production shown during the interval at this year's Superbowl.

While waiting for shooting on The Rising to get into full swing, he opened a fashion gallery in London. Other notable cast members due to be involved in the delayed movie include Colin Morgan, confirmed to play Sean Mac Diarmada, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, star of The Tudors and Dracula, who will play Patrick Pearse.

The role of Rising leader Thomas Clarke is yet to be cast, admitted McCann, although a major coup for the production team was the securing of Riverdance superstar Michael Flatley, who has agreed to provide one of the songs on the soundtrack.

McCann's work includes the movie The Boys Of St Columbs for BBC and RTE, which followed the lives of several great Irish figures including Northern Ireland Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney and John Hume.

Among his latest work is Volkswagen Joe, which is the first film awarded funding by the European Peace Programme.

Based on a play written by his father, it is a half-hour drama set in an Irish border village during the Troubles.

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