Across the divide…

Who'd have thought it? From forklift truck driver to major Hollywood actor. But who inspired Liam Neeson to go into acting?

As he gets the freedom of Ballymena today, he may be looking with affection at a certain building in the town that would normally have been a place to inspire more negative feelings in any Catholic during the Troubles.

Neeson himself was quoted as saying in an American magazine that he felt “second class” as a Catholic growing up in the mainly Protestant town and felt he had to stay indoors during the loyalist July 12 commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne.

So maybe it was Michael Collins who inspired his career path?

Nope, think again.

The building will give you a clue. It's The Free Presbyterian Church.

And who would be in there inspiring a young Catholic boy to take up a career in acting? A certain Dr Ian Paisley.

As Liam said in an interview with the BBC of Dr Paisley's style of oration: "It was acting but it was also great acting and stirring too."

So, here is the man in action.

Funnily enough, only three other people have been awarded the freedom of Ballymena and one of them is Dr Ian Paisley.

Here are three other things you didn't know about the actor, Liam that is:

He suffers from acrophobia - a fear of heights.

He survived a near-fatal crash with a deer while he was riding on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

His most embarrassing moment in his acting career is when he auditioned for the role of Fezzik, the giant, in The Princess Bride (1987). At 6 feet four inches you would think he would have been a shoo-in, but no. The look of disgust on the face of Rob Reiner, the movie's director, when he realised he was not tall enough for the role has stayed with the Ballymena native for years.

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