Irish actor Liam Neeson continues to be the busiest man in Hollywood. The Martin Scorsese dream project Silence casts Liam Neeson as one of the lead roles in the dramatic film. The film is also set to star Andrew Garfield, Ken Watanabe and Adam Driver from HBO’s Girls.
Silence is based upon Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel of the same name. In the historical fiction novel set in the 17th century, a young Portuguese Jesuit missionary named Sebastiao Rodrigues and his companion Francisco Garrpe are sent to Japan to investigate claims that their mentor, a Jesuit priest named Ferreira, has committed apostasy. Based upon historical figures Giuseppe Chiara and Cristovao Ferreira, one half of the novel is written as though to be the journal of Rodrigues while the half other is written in either third person or in the form of letters from those associated with the men. Silence follows the story of the two men as they face violence and prosecution in their attempt to spread the teachings of Christianity and find their mentor.
Rumors of Martin Scorsese’s involvement in the film began to swirl around two decades ago. The film appeared as though it was going to get off the ground back in 2007 when Scorsese announced the film as his follow-up to The Departed. Ahead of Liam Neeson being cast in the Martin Scorsese dream project, Daniel Day Lewis and Benicio Del Toro were also attached to star in Silence back in 2009. Deals eventually fell through when Scorsese’s longtime producer Graham King separated ties from the filmmaker following the colossal box office failure of Hugo in 2008. The film was to have suffered a reported $80 million loss. In 2012, Gori Pictures went after Martin Scorsese for failure to direct the adaptation of the Endo’s novel. Producer Cecchi Gori tried to sue the filmmaker for constantly pushing back his commitment to directing the film. Gori Pictures claimed to have invested more than $750,000 to date in the project. Scorsese called the lawsuit meritless and a media stunt. In the summer of 2013, A1 FIlms, Corsan Films and Emmet/Furla Films committed to fully investing the film. With a script by his Gangs Of New York writer Jay Cocks, filming is expected to take place in Taiwan this summer.
Liam Neeson has a flurry of films hitting the big screen this year. First out of the gate is The Lego Movie on Feb 7, followed closely by Non-Stop on Feb 28. The action-thriller is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who also helmed the 2011 film Unknown, also starring Neeson. Liam will also play the villain to Seth MacFarlane’s cowardly hero in A Million Ways To Die In The West, scheduled for release on May 30. Finally, Neeson will star in A Walk Amongst Tombstones on September 17. The crime-drama is writer-director Scott Frank’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed indie hit The Lookout and is based upon Lawrence Block’s series of best-selling mystery novels.
Martin Scorsese’s latest film, The Wolf off Wall Street, is nominated for five Academy awards this year, including best picture and best director. With Liam Neeson joining the ever-growing cast of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Silence, the project may soon be reality rather than one of the great filmmaker’s long lost dreams.
By Benjamin Murray