Liam Neeson lambastes call to ban horse-drawn carriages
By Andrea Peyser
January 10, 2014 | 5:19am
The battle over New York’s carriage horses just got hunkier.
Hollywood badass Liam Neeson went one-on-one with killjoy Mayor de Blasio, slamming Hizzoner for vowing to ban the city’s 220-plus clip-clopping, carriage-pulling equines from city streets and Central Park.
“They’ll die, you know, darlin,’ ” Liam, who at 6-foot-4 can pretty much look the 6-foot-5 mayor in the eye, told me in his gorgeous Northern Irish brogue.
The 61-year-old heartthrob interrupted his hectic A-list acting schedule to call me Thursday night, alarmed by de Blasio’s treachery.
“It’s criminal!’’ cried Liam. “This is an iconic, historic part of New York.
“The horses are incredibly well-treated. They’re regulated up the wazoo. They get five weeks’ holiday every year.’’ (How many people get that much down time?) “Tourists love them.”
He speculated that efforts to ban the carriage trade resulted from a land grab by greedy developers eager to get hold of horse stables on Manhattan’s West Side:
“I think it’s about real estate. I’m not the kind of person to use my celebrity’’ to promote causes, he said. But, “the horses are happy.”
“Don’t you agree, darlin’?’’
Be still my heart.
Liam warned that the lives of these graceful animals, who weigh between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds apiece, will be cut short if the horses get pink-slipped.
“Someone is going to take the horses in? To adopt the horses? Are they crazy? I don’t think so!
“They’ll go to the glue factory’’ — the proverbial place where horses are said to be killed to make adhesive from their hooves. Or they’ll wind up abandoned.
Liam plans to write to de Blasio, urging the mayor to keep the horses. “I’ll do whatever I can,’’ said the star, who’s considering making a personal appeal to the mayor and the City Council.
Liam’s loyalty to the carriage industry puts him at odds with de Blasio, who at a press conference two days before his Jan. 1 mayoral inauguration delivered these fighting words:
“We are going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer part of the landscape in New York City. They are not humane. It’s over.’’
It also puts him in the cross hairs of many nitwit celebrities, from actors Alec Baldwin and Mary Tyler Moore to singers Miley Cyrus and Pink, who point to isolated incidents — including the case of a horse who got spooked last September and bolted through the streets, upending his carriage on the West Side and sending two tourists to the hospital — as proof that the city is no place for horses. Warbler Lea Michele of TV’s “Glee,’’ who speaks for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told me in 2011 that an industry claim that carriage horses lead good lives “is the most blasphemous thing I’ve ever heard!’’
But Liam, who counts carriage drivers as some of his closest friends, isn’t one to cave to Hollywood hysterics.
“Some of these celebrities,’’ he told me with contempt, “are ill-informed. They should visit the stables and see how comfortable the horses are, and talk to the drivers.’’
In these days replete with girly-boys, the “Schindler’s List’’ and “Love, Actually’’ star may be the last true Hollywood he-man, favoring roles that reveal both his macho side and his sensitive inner core. Playing a retired CIA agent in 2008’s “The Taken’’ — a role he reprised in “The Taken 2’’ and the just-announced “The Taken 3’’ — his character killed bad guys with zeal across Europe, but only in an effort to find his kidnapped daughter.
Liam lives in upstate New York with his two teenage sons from his marriage to actress Natasha Richardson, who died after a freak skiing accident in Canada in 2009.
Liam, who works nonstop, will soon start promoting his latest flick: “Non-Stop.’’
De Blasio, who presumably wishes no harm on horses, favors a plan by New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets — NYCLASS — to replace carriage horses with ridiculous antique-style electric cars. A joke.
The mayor did not respond to a request for comment about a foe he might consider worse than low taxes, Liam Neeson. A pity.
This is one tough guy who makes sense.