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Rising Stars: ‘Taken’ Star Clive Standen Has the Particular Skills to Channel Liam Neeson

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TAKEN -- "Ready" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Clive Standen as Bryan Mills -- (Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC)
Clive Standen has taken aim at the part of Bryan Mills in NBC’s ‘Taken.’ (Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC)

With his 6-foot-2 muscular frame, Clive Standen sure looks like he has the particular set of skills needed to be action hero. But even the star of NBC’s Taken flinches when he knows he’s about to be hit by a moving car.

Especially, the third time in a row.

“You’re running down an alleyway, you know the stunt’s going to happen but you have to act [like] you don’t see the car coming,” the 35-year-old actor told Real Clear Life. “That’s quite terrifying, when you’ve got a back pad on and you’ve got to throw your face to the car, because there’s a camera behind the windshield.

“You’ve rehearsed it at five miles an hour, you’ve rehearsed it at 10, and then [when] it’s going to go 25, 30 miles an hour, it’s (hopefully) going to brake when it sees you.”

TAKEN -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Clive Standen as Bryan Mills -- (Photo by: Jeff Riedel/NBC)
Standen is playing a role made famous by Liam Neeson in the ‘Taken’ movies. (Photo by: Jeff Riedel/NBC)

That’s all part of the job of playing Bryan Mills, the part made famous by Liam Neeson, on NBC’s new reboot (Mondays, 10 p.m.) of the popular film franchise.

He even sounds the part, opening his phone interview with RCL by growling, “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you want, if you’re looking for an interview you’ve come to the right place.”

But as much as he puts on a brave face, what really scares Standen is the idea of all the attention that the biggest role of his career to date—particularly because he’s stepping into the military boots of Neeson, a legend in their mutual home country of Northern Ireland.

And oddly, despite the popularity of his other day-job on History Channel’s Vikings—as Rollo, a real-life warrior who went on to be the great-great-great grandfather of England’s King William I—Standen has been able to navigate the streets pretty anonymously up until now. That is exactly how the father of three prefers it.

“It’s been on my mind a lot how am I going to disguise myself,” he said. “Because I honestly got into acting to draw attention away from myself.

Clive Standen as Rollo in History Channel's Vikings (Jonathan Hession/History)
Clive Standen as Rollo in History Channel’s Vikings (Jonathan Hession/History)

“In Season 4 of Vikings, I ended up cutting my hair short for another film I did, so I had to come back with a wig,” added Standen. “When I finished work, I had short hair and a beard, and it was funny how many people, when I was around all the other vikings, [would] come up to [actors] Travis Fimmel or Alexander Ludwig straight away because of their long hair and ask, ‘Where’s Rollo?’ And they wouldn’t even see that Rollo was standing right next to them. I kind of enjoyed disappearing into obscurity.”

In some ways, though, Standen has been readying himself for this opportunity all his life. After all, his first brush with showbiz goes back to when he was just 12, and already a sword-wielding stuntman performing in a troupe that did Robin Hood–themed shows in England’s Sherwood Forest.

The graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art struggled for years in the business before he broke big, ironically enough, on BBC’s Robin Hood. So now, despite all the attention, he’s enjoying the ride … even when it involves getting hit by a car.

And recently, at a television awards show in Northern Ireland, Standen got the most important validation of all: from Neeson himself.

“He actually came up to me and we were discussing Vikings, and we ended up discussing Bryan Mills a little bit,” said Standen of the fateful meeting.

“We just talked about the heart of the character, what we both loved about Bryan Mills, that he’s just a man. He’s not going to be running up walls and doing backflips like a Jason Statham character. This guy is set in reality.

“Then [Neeson] gave me his stamp of approval, which is all I really needed.”

—Ethan Sacks for RealClearLife