Liam Neeson Says Christian Persecution Film 'Silence' Impacted His Faith, Quips 'God Is Love'

Liam Neeson as Fr. Ferreira in 'Silence.'(Paramount)

"God is love, love is God."

That's the unequivocal profession of faith by Liam Neeson who expounded on his role in the new Martin Scorsese film "Silence."

In a recent interview with Patheos, the 64-year-old Irish actor said preparing for his role as the apostate Jesuit priest Fr. Ferreira deeply impacted his faith. "Silence" depicts the anti-Christian persecution that took place in 17th century Japan, where Neeson's character renounces his faith after being tortured and witnessing other Christians being tortured.

Neeson pointed out that even though his character abandons his faith in the end, Fr. Ferreira "believed that Christ would work through him and this gave him the freedom to learn the language and to serve the people in other ways that were meaningful."

The actor further explored his character's mind, saying that despite what the Jesuit priest did, "I think Ferreira's idea of God was ultimately one of love, but this is what I choose to believe myself."

On his own, Neeson said he believes that "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," he told Patheos.

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

Like Neeson, Garfield said the film also impacted him spiritually, saying that he "fell in love" with Jesus while preparing for his role, according to America the Jesuit Review.

"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 Christian Today earlier reviewed the film, stating that Scorcese "truly gifted the Church [with] a discipleship tool of staggering beauty and sharp-edged challenge."

The review said that spending two hours and 40 minutes watching the film will help Christians "care again about the things that matter to God," adding that it "is a worthwhile investment."