It’s been a couple years since they battled on screen in what became a huge blockbuster, 2010's "Clash of the Titans." Now, real-life friends Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are reprising their roles as Greek gods in "Wrath of the Titans." Neeson plays Zeus, king of the gods; Fiennes is Hades, his brother and god of the underworld.
These two acting giants first matched wits (and handsomeness) in "Schindler’s List," which scored them a ream of awards nominations and established both as leading men to be reckoned with.
Both were born citizens of the British Empire. Each has taken a different path in film stardom of late, with Neeson known for his recent man-on-a-mission roles and Fiennes renowned for his villainous turn as Lord Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" series.
You might think the 6'4" Neeson would come out on top in a matchup with the 6-foot Fiennes. But you might be surprised.
Birth in the British Isles
Liam Neeson: He was born on June 7, 1952, in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the son of a cook and a school caretaker. He’s the third of the couple’s four children, and their only son. Liam, by the way, is the Irish version of the name William.
Ralph Fiennes: Born on December 22, 1962, in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, he came into the world as Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes. He’s the eldest of six, whose siblings include actor Joseph Fiennes and director Martha Fiennes.
Advantage: Fiennes. He’s the eighth cousin of the Prince of Wales.
World War II Films
Liam Neeson: He cemented his status as an A-list actor with his portrayal of heroic German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of 1,100 Jews by employing them in his factory as the Holocaust raged. The Steven Spielberg-directed "Schindler’s List" won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Ralph Fiennes: As the critically burned Count Almásy in Anthony Minghella's "The English Patient," he caused the hearts of women worldwide to flutter in a movie people either loved or hated. Among those who loved it: Academy Awards voters, who awarded the film Best Picture. In "Schindler’s List," he was the fear-inducing, gun-toting Nazi SS lieutenant Amon Goeth, who oversees the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto and who holds the fate of all its Jews in his hands.
Advantage: Fiennes. To play both a Nazi SS officer and a Hungarian cartographer nursed back to health in war-torn Italy in the span of a few years was a major World War II movie coup.
Liam Neeson: In "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace," he starred as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn; later, in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones," his voice was heard as the character. He starred as Ra’s al Ghul in 2005’s "Batman Begins" and will appear later this summer as the same character in "The Dark Knight Rises." Then, there’s also the recent box office success of "Taken," for which a sequel is in production, and last year's thriller "Unknown."
Ralph Fiennes: His portrayal of Harry Potter's archenemy Lord Voldemort, aka The Dark Lord, in four of the "Harry Potter" movies from 2005 through 2011 is acknowledged as one of filmdom’s fiercest villain performances -- as in the most evil and frightening.
Advantage: Fiennes. If the smashed-face Voldemort didn’t scare the hell out of you, much less appear in your nightmares, you have ice water running through your veins.
Liam Neeson: He was nominated for an Oscar for "Schindler's List" and also received a BAFTA and a Golden Globe nod. Neeson has been widely recognized for his roles in "Michael Collins" (1996) and "Kinsey" (2004).
Ralph Fiennes: He’s been nominated for an Oscar twice, as supporting actor for "Schindler’s List" (for which he won the BAFTA) and lead actor for "The English Patient." He’s taken home two Spike TV Scream Awards for Best Villain for his role as Lord Voldemort, along with a number of other critics' honors and nominations for his roles in films including "The Duchess" (2008), "The Constant Gardner" (2005) and "The End of the Affair" (1999). He even got a Razzie nomination for worst actor in "The Avengers" (1998).
Advantage: Fiennes. The breadth and depth of his awards recogntion outpaces Neeson's. Neither has taken home an Oscar, but it’s only a matter of time.
Women and Relationships
Liam Neeson: He was married to actress Natasha Richardson, who died after incurring a brain injury during a skiing accident in March 2009. They had been married since July 1994 and had two sons, Michael and Daniel. In the early '80s, Neeson lived with Helen Mirren after they had met on the set of "Excalibur." Before his marriage, he was linked with Julia Roberts and Brooke Shields. He’s recently dated British PR exec Freya St. Johnston.
Ralph Fiennes: He was married to actress Alex Kingston from 1993-97 before settling into an 11-year relationship with Francesca Annis. In 2007 he joined the mile-high club, reportedly having sex with a Qantas flight attendant in the lavatory on a flight from Australia to India, where he was traveling as a UNICEF ambassador to promote awareness of HIV and safe sex. He’s also apparently had relationships with Ellen Barkin and Amanda Harlech, among others.
Advantage: Neeson. Richardson, Roberts, Shields and Mirren (especially Mirren). Need we say more?
And the winner is ...
Fiennes, because sometimes the dark side has its rewards. Between Hades and Voldemort, there are few he cannot vanquish with his powers. And the sexy but sensitive romantic side he's shown in films like "The English Patient," "The End of the Affair" and even "Maid in Manhattan" give this Brit the added hot factor, as does the fact that he's branched into directing, with 2011's "Coriolanus."