There’s no more riveting story to follow in the “action stars as animal whisperers” beat than “Liam Neesons and Horse-Drawn Carriages vs. New York City and Whoever Runs It and/or Cares About Its Animals.”
We begin in 2009, with Liam Neesons’s first appearance on The Daily Show.
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Neesons is talking to Jon Stewart, promoting his new film, Taken. After discussing the degree to which he beats everyone up, the conversation takes an interesting left turn. Some highlights:
Neesons: “I was in the stables today — many days — over the past few years” and “I hate how the horse-drawn carriage industry is being attacked.”
These are bold proclamations by a famous actor. When this typically happens on talk shows, the famous person says their claim, and then pauses and looks out into the audience, and then the audience claps. But not here. Not with Neesons being pro–horse-drawn carriage industry in New York. Not even a New York crowd of applause-robots would celebrate that, because if there’s one cause to not fight for, it’s to keep these sad, miserable horses on our streets.
BUT NEESONS CAN’T STOP
Neesons: “Animal activists, you know, say the horses have been treated cruelly because they’re pulling a carriage half a mile” and “These are the fittest, well-fed, best kept horses.”
Stewart, at this point, is in an interesting position. He’s used to sparring with his guests, but clearly has no interest in insulting the intelligence of the awkwardly passionate Liam Neesons, but also knows that he must remain a beacon of New York sanity. So he begins offering compromises, like building the horses somewhere nice to roam in Central Park. What say you, Neesons?
Neesons: “But they’re having a good life”
Neesons: “Have you been in these stables? I’d move in tomorrow. Seriously.”
Neesons: “Everyone thinks cows in the fields would rather be running wild — that’s bullshit. Horses don’t either.”
Stewart responds that it doesn’t feel good to watch the horses walk the streets, but then Neesons responds with “Trust me, these horses are well-trained.”
Their horse discussion ends in a semi-compromise, and then they move on to discuss Neesons’s lack of knowledge of American football and baseball, as well as his love for boxing. While amazingly weird, the Neesons horse issue on The Daily Show seemed all but over.
FAST-FORWARD 59 MONTHS.
Last night. After two additional appearances in 2012, Neesons was back for his fourth time, promoting his Taken-like plane film, Non-Stop.
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After having a chummy conversation for more than three minutes, this dialogue:
Stewart: “So things are great otherwise?”
Neesons: “I can’t complain, Jon. Everything’s good.”
This is great. Just two guys, enjoy—
Neesons: “I am a little … pissed off at our new elected mayor.”
OH YES. COME ON, NEESONS. GIVE ME WHAT I WANT.
Neesons: “He wants to close this horse and carriage industry in New York.”
You really love me, Neesons. You knew I wanted this, didn’t you?
Back in his horse comfort zone, Neesons proceeds to throw out a stat that more than 60 percent of New Yorkers want to keep the horse-and-carriage industry in New York. And then he says the horse-and-carriage industry made the roads in New York.
After two appearances of keeping his mouth shut with regard to his true passion, Neesons is back. And not just with emotions, this time. But with data. And facts. Stewart’s reply:
“They made the roads? What, are the roads made out of horse shit? What do you mean they made the roads?”
Jon Stewart: also back. Well, he never really left, but the two men are back in their 2009 form, being cordial but also standing their ground about the vitally important issue of horses and carriages.
And then Stewart says, “What if they moved it into the park?” At this point, it gets a bit weird to watch, because both men are acting as if this exact conversation did not happen years earlier. And at this point, you begin to think, perhaps, this is a bit. Maybe they’re punking us with this horse-and-carriage shtick. Are they about to be in a rom-thriller about buddy Central Park horse trainers? Probably not, which makes Round 2 even odder. TELL US MORE OF THE SAME INFORMATION AGAIN, NEESONS.
Neesons on the animal-rights people: “These organizations want to put out all this false information.”
Neesons on the guys that treat the horses like children: “These guys treat these horses like their children.”
Neesons on the mayor: “He won’t even take a meeting with the horse-carriage industry. He’s supposed to be representing the New York people.”
At this point, Stewart delivers his line again, “It does not seem to be a particularly fulfilling life for an animal” and then Neesons responds with his line again, “It is a fulfilling life. They’re trained for this.”
I had to make sure I didn’t watch the same episode twice, because this was getting absurd.
Nope. This actually happened twice. Amazing. Can’t wait for Round 3 in 2019.