Following preliminary talks to appear in GoldenEye, Liam Neeson stepped out of the process following a promise to his wife.
Liam Neeson has enjoyed quite the career as an action star, a career move sparked by him donning Jedi robes as Master Qui-Gon Jinn in 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and compounded by a lifechanging turn in 2008’s Taken. It’s a run that continues to this day, with Neeson currently appearing in The Ice Road, released this month.
However, the star has revealed that his action sojourn could have begun in a very different way after he was approached by the 007 producers about taking on the role of iconic spy, James Bond.
The role certainly would have been appealing for Neeson back in the mid-1990s as the Bond producers looked to replace Timothy Dalton, who – for an assortment of reasons – was ultimately destined not to return as 007 following Licence To Kill.
Neeson had of course, had a stab at action before, leading the cast in 1990’s Darkman, but the Bond franchise offered a whole new level of action superstardom for the actor.
Ultimately though, Neeson would step away from the process, citing his relationship with Natasha Richardson, as the reason.
“They approached me,” remembers Neeson. “I believe I got a couple of calls from Barbara Broccoli, who’s now the main producer of the Bond films. This was after I had done Schindler’s List, which was 26 years ago, but I wasn’t offered it. I know they were looking at various actors, and I apparently was among them. However, my dear, departed wife did say to me … ‘darling, if you’re offered James Bond and you’re going to play it, you’re not going to marry me”.
Faced with love or donning the tuxedo, Neeson chose the former.
Pierce Brosnan would become 007 and it turned out pretty well for everybody’s career. It wouldn’t be the only time that Neeson was approached to play Bond either, and with Daniel Craig’s replacement not too far from being announced, who knows, perhaps Neeson is priming us for the announcement that he’s made a U turn? An ‘Old Man Bond’ film in the vein of James Mangold’s Logan with Neeson in the lead would be some film, but not one we’re likely to ever see.
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