Few established movie stars would be willing to take on a project like Kinsey, the sure-to-be-controversial biopic about groundbreaking sex scientist Dr. Alfred Kinsey. Yet Liam Neeson didn't hesitate to sign on the dotted line when writer/director Bill Condon approached him to play the title role.
In fact, Neeson had been waiting to work with Condon since seeing his critically acclaimed feature Gods and Monsters at the Deauville Film Festival in 1998. "I was on the festival jury and I championed that film," Neeson remembers. "I had never seen anything like it before. What Bill achieved with the subject matter was incredibly fascinating, and it launched Ian McKellen as a genuine screen actor. I became a big fan of Bill's from that point on and when he got in touch with me about this project, it was kind of a win-win situation, especially when I found out he was interested in me."
Like 2004's other big biopic, Ray, Kinsey doesn't shy away from exploring the shadier aspects of its subject's life. Specifically, the film tackles Kinsey's bisexuality, as the scientist pursues a relationship with his young assistant, Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard), while remaining married to his equally sexually curious wife, Clara (Laura Linney).
"I think that sex is always controversial," says the 52-year-old father of two. "It's something to be discussed and not swept under the carpet. Kinsey was bisexual and I think he suffered terribly as a young man because of it. He was confused and fearful, especially in high school."
One scene that's sure to garner attention is the moment when Clyde and Kinsey first sleep together. "That scene was actually shot in a sleazy little room in the Chelsea Hotel, which seemed appropriate," laughs Neeson. "I actually felt more for Peter because he's walking around buck naked. I wouldn't have done that!"
After taking this art-house detour with Kinsey, Neeson is returning to multiplexes next year in Ridley Scott's Crusades epic, Kingdom of Heaven, and Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. In the latter, he's a mysterious fighting expert who trains the young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in his quest to become the Dark Knight.
"I'm kind of not supposed to talk about it," Neeson says of the eagerly awaited blockbuster, which hits theaters in June. "But it was a great experience. And I play a good guy, of course."