Entertainment & Arts

Liam Neeson calls UK Film Council decision 'deplorable'

Liam Neeson at the UK premiere of The A-Team
Image caption Neeson plays the role of Hannibal Smith in The A-Team

Actor Liam Neeson has called the government's decision to axe the UK Film Council "deplorable".

Neeson was speaking at the UK premiere of The A-Team. He plays Hannibal in Joe Carnahan's big screen remake.

The government announced on Monday that it is to abolish the Council as part of a cost-cutting drive by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The UK Film Council gave funding to Breakfast On Pluto and The Other Man, both of which starred Neeson.

Speaking to BBC radio 5 live, Neeson said: "I think the decision is... the word 'deplorable' comes to mind. We have to do something about it.

"We need movies. It's a powerful industry that provides a credible entertainment for millions of people and I think it is wrong, I just think it is wrong for the government [to do this].

"I know we need to tighten our belts but not with our movie council. They can't, we need it. It is a lifeblood for any culture."

The Film Council was set up by the Labour government to develop and promote the British film industry.

Funded by the National Lottery, it channelled around £160m into more than 900 films over the last 10 years, including Bend It Like Beckham, The Last King of Scotland and Streetdance 3D.

80s remake

Neeson stars alongside Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who play Face, Murdock and B A Baracus in Carnahan's remake of the cult 80s TV show.

Actress Jessica Biel brings a female character to the team as soldier Charissa Sosa.

Image caption Mr T also starred opposite Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III

Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz, who played Face and Murdock in the original TV series, also have cameos in the film.

Carnahan said: "I thought it was a nice nod to the history and I thought it was nice for everybody."

But Mr T, who played the original B A Baracus, did not want to be involved in the remake.

Carnahan said: "T and I have spoken and I've showed him a lot of the movie and he was quoted completely out of context in a way I know was not right because T is not the kind of guy to go bad on anybody.

"I thought, if we couldn't use him in a really cool way it wasn't worth it."

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