Actor Liam Neeson, who plays a priest named Fr. Cristóvão Ferreira in the new movie “Silence,” recently discussed his profound experience working on the Martin Scorsese film — and proclaimed that “God is love.”
Liam said filming the movie, which focuses on the 17th century story of two Catholic missionaries who went to Japan to find their mentor — Fr. Ferreira, who was missing and was believed to have been pressured into apostasy after witnessing intense anti-Christian persecution at a time when Christianity was illegal in that country — had a deep impact on him.
“It was a meditation on doubt, faith, a serious study about belief, a real meditation on faith,” Neeson told Sr. Rose Pacatte, who regularly blogs about Hollywood. “I left the cinema with questions (after watching the final product), and some of the scenes have just stayed with me.”
Neeson, who was raised Catholic and has been said to have made varying comments about faith in the past, discussed his own spiritual journey as well, explaining what it was like to portray a priest in the film who was seen as having committed a massive sin.
“You know, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Early on, while preparing, I thought about the Jesuits, the priesthood, their training, and how God can be packaged very neatly in an organized way and issues can be very back and white,” the actor said. “But the world is many shades of gray.”
Neeson went on to describe a lesson a priest once taught him: “to see God in all things” — something he said is part of Jesuit training, and a notion that he believes has opened up his mind in profound ways.
Still, Neeson admitted that doubt is still a factor in his life.
“I am still filled with doubt at times, and I come back to what Father Dan taught me, to see God in all things, in the good, the bad, the nasty, the brutal,” he told Pacatte. “I think this was the real test for Fr. Ferreira in ‘Silence.’ It is not clear in the film, but I think he had his faith when he died.”
Neeson then reflected on his character’s idea of God, explaining that it’s actually quite similar to his own.
“I think Ferreira’s idea of God was ultimately one of love, but this is what I choose to believe myself,” he said. “If God were a stern master, I would have given up the faith long ago. God is love, love is God. I have had personal experiences of God’s love, beautiful and calming, all the things the Psalms talk about.”
Neeson continued, “If he was a stern master, well, I don’t know.”
The actor has also told other outlets that playing his role in “Silence” led him to truly ask some deep questions about faith, though he told CNN in December that he didn’t come away from the film with definitive answers to put those questions at ease.
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