21 April 1996

Interview: Liam Neeson is Michael Collins

Picture this: four movie writers sitting round a five star hotel boardroom wondering if the Great Man would even appear.

Liam Neeson’s schedule on this hit and run promo tour is so tight there isn’t time to grant our respective publications a one-on-one interview. Now we have been told that that even our allotted thirty minutes with the star of writer/director Neil Jordan’s new film, Michael Collins, was in jeopardy.

The marketing flacks tell us we have to be satisfied with either a fifteen minute audience or none at all. We figure that at fifteen minutes there’s not much chance of even pretending to bond with Neeson, given we will have just under four minutes each to penetrate the movie icon’s psyche.

But such is life in a media ghetto. While we wait we chat about the film. Collins was an Irish freedom fighter in the 1920’s, the man credited with inventing modern guerilla warfare, and who brought the Brits to their knees in the war for Irish independence that followed the First World War. Collins would finally shift from his “talent for mayhem” to become peacemaker, negotiating the treaty which saw Ireland split into the Catholic free South and the British Protestant North.

Collins’s role in the treaty, according to Jordan’s version of events, led to his own assassination by the IRA for “selling out the North”.

We agree it’s starting to look hopeless when the former amateur boxer finally saunters in.