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To anyone who is interested enough to read my letter,

Wednesday, 4th of July 2018

I want to tell you few things I’ve learnt over the years. But before that, let me introduce myself. I am an Actor. I’ve come a long way, from where I started off. I studied physics and computer science at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland and then started doing causal jobs including working as a fork-lift operator and truck driver, and attended teacher training college for two years in County Down. Well, I started acting in theatre and then in small budget tele programmes. For every successful actor or actress, there are countless numbers who don’t make it.

The name of the game is rejection. You go to an audition and you’re told you’re too tall or you’re too Irish or your nose is not quite right. You’re rejected for your education, you’re rejected for this or that and it’s really tough. After some years I started acting in movies. I was a big hit after years of acting. But I’m not here to tell you about the glory days. I’ve come from a small family. My father was a caretaker at a primary school while my mom was a cook. I studied and slogged and worked odd jobs and made my career as an actor. I got married to Natasha, and my life was never better. She was the love of my life and still, when I look at the doorway I’m waiting for her to walk in to my life.

She went skiing in Canada and fell off at the beginners trail, had a blunt impact to her head. It was epidural hematoma which killed her. I miss her still. But I quit acting and raised my two sons. When my sons grew old enough to take care of themselves I had to return to film and I was old. It was about rebuilding my career. I did it though, as tough as it was. “I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you”

Now for what I learnt,

  • I’m reading a lot of Nordic noir at the minute. Henning Menkell. He’s a wonderful author and he just passed away recently. He wrote Wallander, these police detective books. I would highly recommend those n If I wasn’t an actor I would drive a forklift truck. I think I could still drive one now. I did that for 18 months back in Ireland in a Guinness factory. Yeah, I think I could still manage that.
  • My best relationship advice is if you’ve got anything on your chest, get it off it. Don’t bottle stuff up. That would be my advice for any relationship: family or marriage. Don’t bottle stuff like that because it becomes a cancer. It becomes like acid and it’s best to get it out. It’s healthier that way.
  • The best advice I was ever given was from an actor, who is no longer with us, called Colin Blakely. He was one of Laurence Olivier’s founding players in the first National Theatre Company with Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens. I loved Colin Blakely. I did a little TV play called Nailed with him many years ago in 1981, and he said to me: “don’t stay relaxed, the next stage of relaxed is falling asleep. Stay poised.” And that’s stayed with me. Be poised and ready for anything.
  • The years go too fast. When I think of the decades, it makes me feel like Gandalf or something. Ancient. My thirties weren’t bad. My forties were even better. I’m in my sixties now so yeah - the sixties are OK, but the forties I liked the best
  • Movies have a power of social change. It could be an eye opener. Have you watched Schindlers List?

There’s always something to learn from everyone. Talking anyone and everyone is a part of your life’s experience. Reading about incidences, biographies and looking around you, being mindful makes you see and understand the world. It’s about being wise enough to handle the challenges in life. No one knows what in the world they’re doing. They learn from others experiences, what they see and what they think is best. But it’s always a trial run the first time you take a chance. Cut some slack for each other. Everyone’s doing their best, in their own frame of mind. But push hard enough to achieve what you want in life. You’ve got this one life. What are you going to do about it?

Sincerely, Liam Neeson

Written by Devuni Goonewardene (devuni@gmail.com)

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