He is the son of Katherine "Kitty" (née Brown), a cook, and Barnard "Barney" Neeson, a caretaker at the local Catholic girls' primary school. Before his acting career, he had worked as a fork-lift driver at a Guinness factory, and a truck driver. He even spent a short amount of time playing for Bohemians, a professional Irish football club, due to prowess in football while he was enrolled in college.
In his first film appearance, he starred as Jesus Christ in the religious film Pilgrim's Progress directed by Ken Anderson. His movie and TV roles include Dr. Peyton Westlake in Darkman, Oskar Schindler in the 1993 film Schindler's List, the Star Wars prequel trilogy as Qui-Gon Jinn, in Kingdom of Heaven as Godfrey, The Chronicles of Narnia where he voiced Aslan and Batman Begins as Ra's al Ghul. In the 2007 movie, Taken, he plays a retired Central Intelligence Agency agent who travels to Europe to save his daughter from kidnappers, who intended to sell his daughter. He has also played real-life characters, including Michael Collins, Alfred Kinsey and Oskar Schindler. He was starred as John "Hannibal" Smith in the A-Team movie released on June 11, 2010. He was also scheduled to star as Abraham Lincoln in the biographical film Lincoln, but quit due to age differences, despite he is only two years older than Lincoln was in 1865. He is confirmed to play Lyndon B. Johnson in the developing film Selma, a movie based on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.
Neeson was the voice actor for the Lone Wanderer's father James. Being in a main role in Fallout 3, Neeson recorded a considerable amount of dialogue for the game. The game designers intended the character of James to be very similar to the stance, behaviors and traits of Neeson, even in the character model which is similar to some extent. "It’s been a pleasure bringing the father to life and working with the wonderfully talented people at Bethesda on Fallout 3", said Neeson. “I hope the fans of the franchise and the game will be excited by the results."