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Casting Kinsey
As Bill Condon wrote about Alfred Kinsey's life, one actor kept popping into his mind for the intense title role that spans several decades: Liam Neeson, the Oscar® nominee best known for his starring role as Oskar Schindler in SCHINDLER'S LIST. "Liam is a force of nature, a natural leader,” says Condon. "But he's a gentle giant, with an extraordinary ability as an actor to convey the complicated internal life of whatever character he's portraying.”

Neeson knew the role would be a challenge but was drawn to it immediately. "I liked that Kinsey was an individual who saw a huge gap in human knowledge and set out to fix it, no matter how much controversy arose,” he says. "He also lived in a time that was an extraordinary period of scientific discovery into new frontiers. Basically, he showed the world that what we assume people do and what they actually do are very, very different.”

The unflinching nature of Condon's script also attracted him. "It doesn't make Kinsey into a saint. It certainly doesn't avoid controversy,” observes Neeson. "Instead, it shows Kinsey as a complex person who had an incredible will power, a fierce work ethic and, most of all, an obsessive quality that I think many people who ultimately change society have. But if he stood for one thing, it was a respect for individuals, for their uniqueness, and I think his story is an important one.”

Once Neeson accepted the part, Condon and producer Mutrux sent him a vast box of files, featuring the best of Condon's five years of research into Kinsey's life and work. "It was an enormous amount of stuff to read, digest and absorb,” admits Neeson, "but it was very helpful.” And like Condon, Neeson met with some of Kinsey's living associates hoping to get a better sense of the man's real-life gestures and mannerisms. But the physical was just Neeson's jumping off point.

"We did try to emulate his famous hair,” comments Neeson. "He had this extraordinary hair that stood up like a wheat field that just told me something about the man. It's hard to explain but it revealed to me something artistic about him. And he had rickets as a kid, which can lead to curvature of the spine, so I adopted a stooped sort of posture.”

Still, when it came down to fully bringing to life Kinsey's famously eccentric, charismatic and sometimes hard-edged personality, Neeson says he ultimately "had to take an imaginative leap.” He elucidates: "This role tweaked every artistic muscle I have in my soul and in my body. You really had to dig deep into one's own psyche to fully flesh out the character. It was hard work, but I like hard work.” Neeson also saw within the script an unconventional love story – between Kinsey and his wife of 35 years, despite their unusual marriage. "For all the controversy surrounding them, Kinsey was devoted to her and she to him. They had this extraordinary partnership, stable and rooted in mutual respect. They successfully raised three wonderful children in addition to all the work they both did. I think in this film you see that there was a very true bond there, and that it really mattered.”

KINSEY is the third project Neeson and Laura Linney, who plays his wife Clara, have starred in together, following the acclaimed Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's classic play "The Crucible” and the recent film comedy LOVE ACTUALLY. The ease with which they perform together fostered the dynamic Condon was searching for to expose the volatile yet close partnership between Kinsey and Clara. "Laura is someone whose strength of character really comes through onscreen,” says Condon. "This was particularly important for Clara because she's the person through whom we see Kinsey, and understand him. And of course the character has her own very complicated desires, which Laura expresses so flawlessly.”

Linney found herself compelled by the film'

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