Liam Neeson

This former truck driver and amateur boxer from Ballymena, Northern Ireland, was born June 7, 1952. While performing onstage at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, he was spotted by director John Boorman, who cast Neeson as Sir Gawain in Excalibur (1981).

Six years later, his U.S. debut in Suspect gained attention, as did his starring debut in the cult thriller Darkman (1990). Neeson's breakthrough came via the title role in the Steven Spielberg masterpiece Schindler's List; his memorable performance earned a 1994 nomination for the Oscar and numerous other awards.

He commanded the screen as well in the biopic title roles of Rob Roy and Michael Collins, and became part of the George Lucas universe as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Neeson married Natasha Richardson, his co-star in Nell, in 1994.