Liam Neeson Admits He Was Shocked Taken Was So Successful: ‘I Thought It Was Corny’

Liam Neeson in Taken
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Liam Neeson and his “particular set of skills” monologue in 2008’s Taken will probably now and forever be aligned not only as an iconic moment in action movie history, but as the most memorable in the actor's career. But apparently Neeson didn’t predict the coveted place Taken holds across his massive filmography. He initially found it all to be rather “corny” actually. 

Neeson has shared before that he originally thought Taken was going to flop when it hit theaters in January of 2009, but it ended up making up its production budget during opening weekend before earning $226 million worldwide and counting itself among the top 25 highest grossing movies on the domestic front that year. Here’s Liam Neeson’s latest thoughts on his big success with Taken

I was very surprised by Taken. I thought it was going to be a straight-to-video film. It was such a simple story.

As Neeson told Vanity Fair, he had no idea Taken would become a massive action franchise and even turn into a short-lived TV show on NBC. When speaking to his “particular set of skills” moment that he’ll never run away from given its iconic status, Neeson said this: 

I certainly did sound scary, but I thought it was corny. It was a cornball. I really did feel that. It’s nice to be proven wrong.


Liam Neeson in Marlowe

(Image credit: Open Road Films)

Release Date: February 15, 2023 (Theaters)
Directed By: Neil Jordan
Written By: William Monahan & Neil Jordan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Daniela Melchior and Alan Cumming

It goes to show that many projects that become so important to pop culture don’t always happen on purpose, and those involved don’t necessarily realize when they’ve landed on something that will make them famous. Liam Neeson was a successful actor prior to Taken, having starred in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and the Star Wars franchise (which he thinks Disney is currently “diluting”), as well as big films like Gangs of New York, Love Actually and Batman Begins. But it was Taken that made him an action star at 56 years old. 

Nearly 15 years later, Neeson has starred in numerous action films, something he previously said he will retire from “at some stage” before later walking back his comments and saying he meant it as a joke. Neeson’s latest movie is a neo-noir crime thriller called Marlowe that has the actor playing a private detective hired to find the ex-lover of a glamorous heiress. 

Neeson turned 70 years old last summer summer and is still finding work, especially in the action genre, which is in large part thanks to his iconic role in Taken. He’s known for the guy with a “particular set of skills,” and loyalty churns out some great performances as such. Next up, Neeson might switch things up in a big way once his Naked Gun remake finally takes off. 

Before we see that, you can check out Neeson in Marlowe, now in theaters. Get ready for the actor to also star in a couple more 2023 new movie releases with crime action movie Retribution and western In The Land of Saints and Sinners, which both come out in June. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.