Liam Neeson on following Humphrey Bogart in Marlowe: "I feel I know that character"
The actor is the latest star to take on the role of Raymond Chandler's iconic private detective Philip Marlowe.
In Hollywood history, few characters have been played by as many genuine stars as Raymond Chandler's hard-drinking private eye Philip Marlowe.
In various films spanning several decades, the detective has been portrayed by Dick Powell, Robert Mitchum, Elliot Gould, James Caan, and most famously Humphrey Bogart – and now it's Liam Neeson's turn to take on the iconic role in Neil Jordan's new film Marlowe.
The film follows the detective after he's hired by a wealthy heiress to locate her missing lover, whom she believes to have been erroneously reported dead, sending him on an investigation that brings him face to face with all sorts of shady characters from the LA underworld.
And speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Neeson said that while he didn't necessarily feel the shadow of previous Marlowe actors hanging over him, he did find that the character was very much baked into his psyche from the get-go.
"I feel I kind of grew up with Bogart and certainly Robert Mitchum who famously played him in 1978, twice I think," he explained. "The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye... but he always seemed to be, the character always seemed to be on our little black and white TV set growing up in the North of Ireland.
"Sunday afternoons, rain, trilby hats, a bit of gunfire, very sexy blondes like Veronica Lake and stuff. So I kind of feel I know that character, y' know."
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Meanwhile, director Jordan explained that although he didn't necessarily try to "replicate" previous Raymond Chandler adaptations, he reckoned the script written by William Monahan (The Departed) did much of his job for him in terms of capturing the right tone – even if it did come with big challenges.
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"I was kind of amazed actually at these huge reams of dialogue – the first time I read it, [I thought] woah they speak all the time, they speak so much," he said. "And so much of the speech is so apt to the period and so kind of witty."
He added: "But I thought, first of all, it's a challenge because the scenes were big and I hadn't written them which is always a challenge. Cause as a director, I'm a writer and if I write something I can see what to do with it – and I've rarely taken on something that has been so written if I can put it that way."
Jordan also explained that he had similar formative memories to Neeson when it came to watching Marlowe mysteries in his younger days.
"I remember seeing these movies not on a TV because we didn't have a TV, but in a scout hall, when I was in Clontarf in Dublin," he said. "And you'd be watching...the screen would always be a sheet and there'd be a projector behind and generally a priest or some social person.
"And there'd be all this black and white stuff and there'd be flashes of gunfire and you wouldn't have a clue what was going on but for some reason it was wonderful."
He added: "The only thing I didn't want to do was approximate to black and white photography – I mistrust the word noir, is that a terrible thing to say? Really I think the word is too much of a metaphor I think in a strange way, so when I did this I wanted to shoot it in full colour as if Howard Hawks had the best digital cameras available to him!"
Marlowe is now showing on Sky Cinema and NOW and in select cinemas. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.
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