Throughout his storied film career, Liam Neeson has played a variety of on-screen dads, from the grieving Daniel in Love, Actually to the vengeful Bryan Mills in the Taken trilogy.
But Neeson’s latest role presents a different challenge for the veteran actor – he’s playing the father of a character played by his real-life son, Micheál Richardson.
Made in Italy, the feature directorial debut from James D’Arcy, sees Neeson and Richardson star as an estranged father and son, with the film following the pair as they attempt to mend their broken relationship while repairing their old home in Tuscany.
The film is actually the second time Richardson has played the son of one of Neeson’s characters, following the 2019 thriller Cold Pursuit, but this is a much meatier role for the young actor, with the relationship between father and son at the very heart of the film.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com about the experience, Neeson said that acting with Richardson “was different, but also it wasn’t different.”
“I trusted Micheál’s ability that he would be able to access emotion,” he said. ” And I know he has a lovely screen presence.”
Neeson added that he didn’t want to be too hands-on in his approach towards Micheál, revealing that he had full faith in both his son and their director.
“I totally trusted James D’Arcy and his handling of Micheál,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a director on set with my own son, I made Micheál absolutely clear on that.
“And you know there are certain emotional scenes that we have to be able to access and I knew we’d be able to do that with ease because it was so close to us.”
For his part, Richardson said that working with his father was “really fun” although he admitted that their on-screen relationship took some getting used to.
“You don’t see the big movie star Liam Neeson, you see your dad and at first I think that was kind of weird,” he said. “In the film, Robert and Jack really dislike each other and that was fun to play, weird but fun.”
Meanwhile, D’Arcy said that being able to rely on the natural chemistry between Neeson and Richardson made his job as a director easier – with some of the pair’s on-set improvisations making it into the finished film.
“There’s a sequence where they’re talking about a weasel to some workmen,” he explained. “That was them improvising – I didn’t write any dialogue, I always assumed there would be music over that scene.
“So all the sort of rat baguette stuff is Liam and Micheál making stuff up which, you know, I could see that Liam felt a degree of comfort with Micheál. He’s an A-list film star and he’s used to things being a certain way, and we were a very, very small little film and he was so generous about it all and I think he really enjoyed the fact that Micheál was there.”
In fact, D’Arcy revealed that rather than Liam directing his son on set, it was often the other way around.
“[Micheál was] directing him from time to time, you know, saying like ‘no no Dad don’t do it like that! it wasn’t so funny, do it like the way you did it in the take before – that was much better!’.”
Made in Italy is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video from 26th March 2021. Looking for something else to watch tonight? Here are all the best movies on Amazon Prime, check out our TV Guide or visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.