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Neeson was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland to Katherine "Kitty" (née Brown), a cook, and Barnard Neeson, a caretaker at the local Catholic girls' school. He was the third child in the family and the only boy among four siblings; his sisters are Elizabeth, Bernadette and Rosaline. Neeson is an Academy Award-nominated Irish actor. He was raised as a Roman Catholic in the predominantly Protestant and Unionist town of Ballymena in Northern Ireland and later attended Queen's University of Belfast. However, he left the university without graduating. At age nine, Neeson began boxing lessons at the All Saints Youth Club. It was at age eleven that Neeson first stepped on stage. His English teacher gave him the lead role in a school play, which he accepted because the girl he fancied would be starring. From then on, he kept acting in school productions for the following years. His interest in acting and decision to become an actor was also influenced by Ian Paisley whose church Neeson would sneak into. Neeson has said of Paisley that "He had a magnificent presence and it was incredible to watch this six foot-plus man just bible-thumping away...It was acting but it was also great acting and stirring too. And his Baptisms skills are second to none." Still boxing at sixteen, he had been Youth Heavyweight Champion of Ireland for three consecutive years, aided by his height of six foot three.
Neeson played Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, and his voice can be heard in Attack of the Clones after Anakin Skywalker murders the Tusken Raiders saying "Anakin! Anakin! No!". His performance in the former film was inspired by The Seven Samurai. He was slated to be heard in a scene with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith, but was unable to do so because of a motorcycle injury and his character is only mentioned. He returned to the role in 2011, voicing Qui-Gon in two episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series.
Neeson's most famous role is that of Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg's epic Schindler's List (1993). The role won Neeson an Academy Award nomination. The film itself won both Best Picture and Best Director, and Neeson's co-star, Ralph Fiennes, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
More recently, Neeson voiced the lion Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). He reprised the role in the sequels, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He also played Batman's corrupt mentor Henri Ducard / Ra's al Guhl in Batman Begins (2005). Neeson played the character of Bryan Mills in the movie Taken, and in 2010, Neeson played the role of Zeus in the remake of Clash of the Titans. In early 2012, Neeson played John Ottway in The Grey.