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'Silence' Star Liam Neeson on How Persecution Film Impacted Faith, Says 'God is Love'

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"Silence" star Liam Neeson has shared how the film impacted his faith and said that he believes God is a God of love.
Martin Scorsese's "Silence", coming December 23, 2016. Paramount Pictures

"Silence" star Liam Neeson has shared how the film impacted his faith and said that he believes God is a God of love.

During a recent interview with Patheos blog Sister Rose at the Movie, the 64-year-old actor said that the film was "a meditation on doubt, faith, a serious study about belief" and that the Jesuit spiritual exercises he practiced in preparation for the film deeply impacted him.

"You strike up a relationship with Christ through the Gospels, so that ultimately Christ becomes your brother, someone you talk to regularly, every day, throughout the day," he told the outlet.

"Silence", directed by Martin Scorsese, tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor, Father Ferreira ( Neeson), who renounced the faith under torture at the hands of the Japanese regime. The film is based on the acclaimed 1966 novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo.

"I think Ferreira's idea of God was ultimately one of love, but this is what I choose to believe myself," Neeson 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. If he was a stern master, well, I don't know."

Neeson's co-star, Andrew Garfield, has also shared how the film impacted him spiritually, saying he "fell in love" with Jesus while preparing for the role.

"What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing," Garfield said. "God! That was the most remarkable thing-falling in love, and how easy it was to fall in love with Jesus."

The actor, who recently starred in Hacksaw Ridge - another faith-based film - said that he felt frustrated that others had given Jesus a "bad name," and that Christianity has not always been used for good.

"I felt so bad for [Jesus] and angry on His behalf when I finally did meet Him, because everyone has given Him such a bad name," he said. "And He has been used for so many dark things."

Scorsese, a devout Catholic, recently met with Pope Francis to discuss the film and has referred to "Silence" as his "passion project". The world premiere of the film was held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, followed by a special screening the next day in Vatican City.

The film director described the experience of seeing his movie screened at such a setting as "stunning," and also said that Francis was very "disarming" during their meeting.

"He was the most disarming ... everything was fine," Scorsese said. "He was smiling and thanked us for being there."

Tags : Liam Neeson, silence, Andrew Garfield, Pope Francis, Martin Scorsese