Movies

Liam Neeson’s Late Wife Told Him If He Ever Accepted The Role Of James Bond That They Couldn’t Get Married

Liam Neeson has led one of the more interesting careers in Hollywood. A serious and soft-spoken Irish thespian, he’s played oily ‘80s baddies (The Dead Pool), complex historical figures (Schindler’s List), then had a surprise turn in his 50s as a Bronsonian action star. His career could have been even more colorful, as he revealed on an episode of The Rich Eisen Show.

During a segment called “Celebrity True or False,” the host grilled him on a number of rumors. They discussed his appearance as a “playboy Irish terrorist” on a 1986 episode of Miami Vice. He confirmed that he almost played Fezzik, the towering strongman, in the film version of The Princess Bride, but lost the role to André the Giant, partly because he was “only” 6’4.

Neeson also revealed something big: He almost, but not really, could have played James Bond. He recalled the period before Pierce Brosnan got the job of breathing new life into a dormant screen character. Neeson claimed to be one of the actors they were vaguely considering. (“They sent out feelers.”) He was never offered the role but even if he had been, he would have had to turn it down.

“I remember my dear, departed wife [Natasha Richardson, who died in 2009] said to me — we were shooting a film in North Carolina called Nell — and she looked at me straight in the face and she said, ‘Liam, if you’re offered this and if you do it, you know we can’t get married,’” he recalled. “And that was it.

Richardson, however, proved instrumental in getting him perhaps his most famous role: tough guy do-gooder Bryan Mills in Taken. He’d already been sent the script, but he suspected — perhaps rightly — that he was not really in contention. But when he accompanied Richardson to a film festival, where the film’s producer Luc Besson was the jury head, he went up to him and pitched him on why the same actor who played Oskar Schindler could convincingly brag about his ”very particular set of skills.” And the rest is history.

What Eisen didn’t ask him about is being taught how to drive by Helen Mirren. Or how a horse once remembered working with him. But maybe that’s because he already let those cats out of the bag.

You can watch the segment in the video above.

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