Why did Liam Neeson reject James Bond role?
Although he was interested in becoming 007, Liam Neeson explained that he was given an ultimatum by his wife.
Liam Neeson almost joined a short list of actors who have played James Bond on screen.
Names like Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and most recently, Daniel Craig, have all played the Secret Service agent who goes by the code umber 007.
The reason behind Neeson’s snub
During a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Neeson revealed that he was contacted by producer Barbara Broccoli several times during the 1990s about whether he would be interested in taking on the role.
At the time, Neeson was coming off an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role as Oskar Schindler in ‘Schindler’s List’. However, he revealed that he turned down the role because of his wife, Natasha Richardson.
“I know the Broccolis. They looked at a bunch of actors,” Neeson said. “‘Schindler’s List’ had come out and Barbara [Broccoli] had called me a couple of times to ask if I was interested, and I said, ‘Yes, I would be interested.’
“And then my lovely wife [Natasha Richardson], God rest her soul, said to me while we were shooting ‘Nell’ down in the Carolinas, ‘Liam, I want to tell you something: If you play James Bond, we’re not getting married.’”
Neeson honored Richardson’s wishes
The 70-year-old honored Richardson’s wish and never held a meeting with Broccoli, though he did tease her by posing his fingers like a handgun while humming the James Bond theme.
“She gave me a James Bond ultimatum, and she meant it! Come on, there’s all those gorgeous girls in various countries getting into bed and getting out of bed,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of her decision-making was based on that!”
Although Neeson never played 007, he still managed to find his way into an action series. His role in the 2008 movie ‘Taken’ proved to be a turning point in his career, as it cemented him as an action star.
The film went on to become a box office success that grossed over $200 million dollars, and has since been turned into a franchise, with ‘Taken 2′ and ‘Taken 3′ released in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Neeson also starred in ‘Batman Begins’, and played Qui-Gon Jinn in the Star Wars franchise.