Friday, May 24, 2024

‘A Monster Calls’ That Liam Neeson Recommends

Liam Neeson and Lewis MacDougall at AMC New York premiere.
Liam Neeson and Lewis MacDougall at AMC New York premiere.

*Liam Neeson has been known to play some incredible characters, rather it be the concerned father in the “Taken” trilogy, a hit man in “Run All Night” going toe to toe with Common or Oskar Schindler in “Schindler’s List.” In “A Monster Calls,” Neeson is the monster conjured up by a grief stricken twelve-year-old, bullied boy (Lewis MacDougall).

I talked to Neeson and MacDougall at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York about their amazing film.

Liam, there is so much more to this film than just a children’s book. Do you also see it as a guide for dealing with grief?

LIAM NEESON: Oh I think so, yeah, yeah. A relative of mine just died of breast cancer in her 40s and it’s a horrible, horrible disease. There has to be more money put into [the study of] that, I feel. Yes, I think the book and the film—it seems a cliche to say it—will help people who are suffering; that they reach out to family or good friends to rely on. Maybe if the film teaches that, or guides someone in that direction, this might be a good thing.

How was it shooting in motion capture?

NEESON: After reading the book it kept haunting me. I had never done motion capture before, and I had only seen it obviously through the extraordinary performances Andy Serkis did. My God, that Gollum. You have 70 cameras going around and you’re dressed in a onesie with ping pong balls. You look ridiculous. I remember thinking, ‘What the f**k am I doing?’ But after the first day I gradually got into it, and Lewis was emoting all the time. I mean, this kid was giving a range of emotions that Shakespeare doesn’t even demand from Hamlet.

Conor (Lewis MacDougall) and the Monster (Liam Neeson) in 'A Monster Calls.'
Conor (Lewis MacDougall) and the Monster (Liam Neeson) in ‘A Monster Calls.’

After Liam left the room and Lewis walked in, I asked what the movie meant to him? “It definitely changed me,” Lewis said. “The stories that the monster tells me, they all contain lessons. It wasn’t just the story that changed me; it was the whole experience of getting to make the movie. I learned a lot.”

Directed by J.A. Bayona, “A Monster Calls,” opens December 21. It also stars Sigourney Weaver and Felecity Jones.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]       Twitter: @thefilmstrip


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