1. The dude is smoking hot.
Yes, he’s 62, but the man’s physique and pheromones seem to get more enticingly powerful by the year. Plus, he’s got the age-defying self-confidence to back it up. Don’t believe me? Google “Neeson, underwear, and Ellen,” and you’ll see my new patron saint strutting his stuff, wearing nothing but a pair of tighty-pinkies on The Ellen Degeneres Show in a stunt to raise money for breast cancer research. (Watch it here.) The studio audience went wild and Neeson’s presence enticed one online commenter to write: “He’s the kind of rugged badass manly man that my husband has a bromance with so we fully enjoy watching his films together. I swoon and fan myself as I fantasize getting lost in the wilderness with him and I think my husband is pretty much doing the same at the other end of the couch.”
2. He’s still professionally potent.
Neeson earned an Academy Award nomination at age 41 for the title role in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust drama, Schindler’s List. A career highlight to be sure, but what he’s managed to accomplish more recently might be even more impressive: In 2008, at the age of 56, in youth-obsessed Hollywood, he reinvented himself as an A-list action star with the Taken movies. Most men at his age start thinking about slowing down, but not our man Liam; he’s kicked things into high gear and scored some of the biggest box office hits of his career.
3. He’s adapting to aging, not fighting it.
Neeson gave up drinking to be in better form for the demands of being an action star. And he’s training hard, but smart—”I don’t try and do all this washboard-abs stuff,” he told GQ last year. “That’s not real. I take bits and bobs from everywhere to train. Kettlebells. Power walks. Heavy bag. It’s about stamina.” And all the hard work has paid off. As Entertainment Weekly‘s movie reviewer wrote of Neeson’s performance in Taken: “You don’t think something like, ‘Wow, he moves pretty good for a guy his age.’ You think: ‘Get the f— out of the way. He means business.'”
4. He boldly stands up for what he believes in.
Growing up in Northern Ireland, Neeson was an amateur boxing champion, and that pugilistic mindset has stayed with him ever since, whether it’s staying in shape, clawing his way back into the action, or throwing a few rhetorical punches at what he sees as social injustices. In January, he told a reporter from the Gulf News in Dubai, “There’s too many f—ing guns out there. I think the [U.S.] population is like, 320 million? There’s over 300 million guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it’s a [expletive] disgrace. Every week now we’re picking up a newspaper and seeing, ‘Yet another few kids have been killed in schools.'” Then, after enraging the gun lobby, Neeson made a foe out of PETA by opposing the movement to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City.
5. He’s faced tragedy head-on and bounced back.
Neeson lost his wife of 15 years, actress Natasha Richardson, in 2009 when she died of a brain injury from a skiing accident. First, he was faced with the wrenching decision to remove Richardson from life support. “She and I had made a pact,” he told 60 Minutes in 2014. “If any of us got into a vegetative state that we’d pull the plug. … So when I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff, that was my immediate thought. Was, ‘Okay, these tubes have to go. She’s gone.’ But [we] donated three of her organs, so she’s keeping three people alive at the moment. Yeah. Her heart, her kidneys and her liver.” Then, the father of two sons had to figure out a way to forge a new life after losing his life partner. He decided to return to work two days after his wife’s funeral. “I’m not good without work,” he said. “I wallow too much. You know? And I just didn’t want to—especially for my boys, to be—seem to be wallowing in sadness or depression.” The boxer’s mentality got Neeson right back in the ring and accentuating all the positive aspects of his life. “[I’ve] got a great family, a grand support system,” he’s said. “I’m lucky enough to be able to work in a profession that I love doing. And for all that I feel very blessed—every day.”