In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Liam Neeson disclosed that James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli called him on multiple occasions in the 1990s to ask if he was interested in taking on the role of 007.
Due to his performance in “Schindler’s List,” the actor had just received a nomination for an Oscar for best actor. But why decline one of the most recognizable action parts in movie history? It all came down to Natasha Richardson, Neeson’s wife.
“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’s feelings for Richardson outweighed his desire to portray James Bond, therefore he never had a meaningful meeting with Broccoli. What Neeson did was taunt Richardson by “going behind her back, making my fingers as though I’m holding a gun, and [humming the James Bond theme],” he said. “I loved doing that shit!”
“She gave me a James Bond ultimatum,” Neeson added. “And she meant it! Come on, there’s all those gorgeous girls in various countries getting into bed and getting out of bed. I’m sure a lot of her decision-making was based on that!”
Fortunately for the actor, he’d get a second chance at action movie stardom with the “Taken” franchise. Neeson would also get a taste of mega-franchises with his role as Qui-Gon Jinn in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” although that’s not a universe he’s keen on returning to right now.
“No, I’m not,” Neeson said on “Watch What Happens Live!” this month when asked if he will return to “Star Wars.” “There’s so many spinoffs of ‘Star Wars.’ It’s diluting it to me, and it’s taken away the mystery and the magic in a weird way.”
Neeson’s most recent release, “Marlowe,” is now playing in theaters.