'Silence' movie news: Liam Neeson says shocking weight loss was for a Scorsese movie, shares challenges of filming

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When paparazzi photos of an unusually frail-looking Liam Neeson surfaced in July, fans speculated on why the “Taken” actor had lost what appeared to be a staggering amount of weight. Now, the 63-year-old actor has revealed that his drastic weight loss was for “Silence,” the latest film by multi-awarded director Martin Scorsese. 

“Martin wanted us all to look a bit more gaunt, which [actors Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield] did as well,” Neeson told the press at the 4th Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival. 

He added: “I know Adam went to the extreme. He’s an ex-Marine, and when he’s given an order, he follows it through. He was like something out of Auschwitz.” 

Garfield was reported to have dropped 40 pounds for the film.

“Martin requires this level of [dedication] and I think it pays off,” Neeson explained.

The weight loss wasn’t the only challenge the actors had to face while filming “Silence.” While shooting scenes in Taiwan, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck, delaying the production. Neeson, who was in his 15th floor hotel room when it occurred, called it the “most terrifying moment of my life.” 

Scorsese’s demanding directing style was another challenge.

According to Neeson: “He require[s] absolute silence on set, like everybody has to stop work when he’s giving a direction or explaining a scene. I mean everybody.” 

“Silence” is based on the 1966 historical fiction written by Shsaku End. It is set in the 17th century and tells the story of two Jesuit priests who are sent to Japan to spread the teachings of Christianity and to investigate reports that their mentor has committed apostasy. There they endure violent persecution and hardship in the time of the Kakure Kirishitan. Garfield and Driver play the roles of Father Rodrigues and Father Garuspe, respectively. Neeson takes the role of Father Cristvo Ferreira, their mentor. 

Although there is no official release date, “Silence” is expected to open in North American theaters in 2016.