Liam Neeson Joins Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’

Published 1 year ago by

Liam Neeson Liam Neeson Joins Martin Scorseses Silence

How does a person follow up a film as unabashedly profane and amoral as The Wolf of Wall Street? By making a movie about Jesuit priests in 17th century Japan, naturally. Martin Scorsese’s three hour epic of financial sector excess has remained visible in popular consciousness thanks to numerous awards season accolades, heaps of controversy, and domestic box office success, but the Oscars will be here and gone before too long, and he’ll be moving on with his next picture: Silence, his long-gestating adaptation of Japanese author Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel.

Scorsese has talked about Silence for a very, very long time, but the film only received a studio green light, financial backing, and the makings of a cast last Spring. This past Friday, Scorsese rounded out that cast with addition of Liam Neeson, who will bring his certain set of skills to bear alongside the talents of once and future Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garield, as well as the immensely gifted Japanese maestro Ken Watanabe; most importantly, though, the celebrated filmmaker has pulled himself out of legal hot water with producer Cecchi Gori over Silence‘s (lack of) progress.

Deadline broke the news on both turns of events; while Neeson being brought into the fold here is easily the more exciting wrinkle of the two, court issues undoubtedly carry more weight. It seems that Gori has been in and out of the courts with Scorsese since August 2012, when the former sued the latter for neglecting his commitment to directing Silence. It seems like the sparring pair only determined to take their dispute out of the court system quite recently, though details on that are, for the moment, rather vague.

Clearly the move worked for them, as they’ve reached a settlement whose details remain unknown (and will probably stay that way). The best part of the kerfuffle is that we can now officially look forward to Silence as Scorsese’s new endeavor, particularly given that the film appears to be a passion project of his. Of course, Silence was guaranteed to be on his docket, anyways – its June 2014 production start date made that an unavoidable outcome – but it’s a relief to see that he’s going ahead with it nonetheless.

Martin Scorsese The Departed Liam Neeson Joins Martin Scorseses Silence

Silence details the story of a Jesuit priest, Sebastião Rodrigues, who travels to Japan to investigate claims of apostasy; he ultimately encounters a system of religious persecution and finds his own faith tested in the face of barbaric cruelty. At 200 pages in length, it’s difficult to imagine Scorsese stretching the author’s narrative into something with the same scope and scale as The Wolf of Wall Street; then again, there’s a lot that he could extrapolate on from the text, notably harsh scenes of torture inflicted upon Japanese Christian practitioners.

Perhaps more than Endo’s novel itself, though, it’s Scorsese’s troupe of actors who will really give Silence its shape as it’s transitioned from page to screen. Garfield is already slotted to play Sebastião, while Watanabe’s role is unclear; he may play a sympathetic character, abused for his beliefs, or he may play one of the Japanese security officials charged with rooting out hidden Christians among the local populace. Neeson, meanwhile, seems like a lock for Ferreira, Sebastião’s mentor and the man he’s sent out to find in the first place.

Silence should be a nice change of pace for Neeson, who in the last few years has done a lot of work to reinvent himself as an action star in such fare as the Taken series and Batman Begins (while occasionally taking roles in more comic fare like the upcoming The LEGO Movie). It’ll also reunite him with Scorsese, who worked together on 2002′s Gangs of New York. Principal photography on the film begins in June, so we probably won’t hear much about Silence beyond additional casting news until then, but for now this is an exciting development.


We’ll keep you posted on news about Silence as it becomes available.

Source: Deadline

Follow Andy Crump on Twitter @agracru
TAGS: Silence
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  1. This is GREAT news. This project has been on the back-burner for what seems like forever, and I’ve been eager to see it in film form for years.

    • Same here. It’s a great novel, and Marty is clearly very, very passionate about the material as well as the production; he’s certainly pulled together a really strong core cast for the film, which I think says something.

  2. I’m crazy excited, Silence is one of my favorite novels of all time. And also, I think Andrew Garfield is an extremely underrated actor. Yes, people think he’s good in stuff like Spider-Man or The Social Network (where was snubbed for an Oscar), but his stage work was just awesome, especially on Broadway. He was even great in the series Red Riding, so I’m glad Martin hired him instead of someone obvious, like Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s great himself but getting a little tiring also. With Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, and I hear maybe even Adam Driver, this should be an amazing movie… I hope.

    • You know what? I agree about Garfield, 100%. People need to see Never Let Me Go, and possibly revisit The Social Network. He’s terrific.

      And Silence is an excellent novel.

  3. I was more excited when it was Daniel Day Lewis and Benicio Del Toro in the lead roles. But bc its Scorsese, I’m still interested.

    • Day-Lewis and Del Toro were to typical I thought. They do dramatic and historical epics all the time.

      • I kind of agree. You can’t just stuff DDL into every prestige/passion project made by greats like Scorsese. He’s probably the best actor in the world, but the guy chooses his roles very, very deliberately, and too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

        I’m real pleased with Marty’s cast thus far.

    • I think they had Gael Garcia set to play Garrpe… It looked to be pretty darn good casting as you say… I would have loved to see DDL as the apostate priest (Cristóvão Ferreira) & the scene between he and Father Sebastião Rodrigues SJ where the apostate visits the imprisoned Rodrigues with his Japanese Lord & master, just to see those two eyeball each other in one of literature’s great scenes…

  4. Liam Neeson is another Scorsese film and set in Japan? I have my wallet out, where do I buy the ticket?

  5. Actually, The Mission and Silence are really, really different outside the basic conceit of “Jesuit priests travel to parts of the world to do things”.

    • Sure they are both very different movies and settings… Yet common threads, that reflect although may not touch on the subject in Martin S.’s works are; The Jesuit Order attracted the best and brightest of Roman Catholic Europe, the Order found itself at odds with governing and ecclesial authority almost every where they went, and they were at the time indefatigable in their quest “to know” what went wrong when things went wrong… Small wonder they were suppressed in 1774 until 1814… Which by the way, we are in the 200th year in this year of their reinstatement…

  6. Any news if scorsese is directing The Snowman in the future?