Liam Neeson recently said he declined to play James Bond because his late wife wouldn’t have married him had he played the part.
Neeson. Liam Neeson. For awhile, in the mid-nineties, after Timothy Dalton quit as James Bond, pretty much every European leading man had his name associated with James Bond, including Mel Gibson, Ralph Fiennes, and now Liam Neeson is saying he too was considered by the Broccolis. As he told Rolling Stone, it came pretty close to happening:
‘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.’”
While Neeson admits to occasionally walking around the house humming the James Bond theme to himself to tease his late wife, he admits he has no regrets. Indeed, the pair had a long, happy marriage before Richardson tragically, passed away following a skiing accident in 2009 near Montreal. It certainly worked out for his career, with Neeson starring in a long time of acclaimed roles throughout the nineties (including Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace) and 2000s, before becoming an unlikely, middle-aged action hero in Taken, which spawned two sequels and a long series of thrillers for the actor, who shows no signs of slowing down at seventy.
As for 007, he did just fine, with Pierce Brosnan taking on the role for a long spell, making four hugely successful films. It’s hard to imagine Neeson as the star of Goldeneye. Indeed, Brosnan and Neeson would later make an underrated (Best Movie You Never Saw-approved) western many years later called Seraphim Falls.
Liam Neeson’s 100th film, Marlowe, is out in theaters now. Read our review here and check out our interview with the director Neil Jordan!