Liam Neeson’s wife had insisted that he turn down the role of James Bond. Before the two had tied the knot, Natasha Richardson told the actor she would not marry him if he accepted the role of Agent 007.
He had to choose the role or his wife.
This means Neeson had been up for the role alongside Pierce Brosnan, who had been waiting for his contract to expire with Remington Steele before he could don the suit and bowtie and officially order his martini “shaken, not stirred.” On the other hand, Neeson might have ended up missing out on a lot of other famous roles if he had accepted it.
— tinx (@fangirlanon21) March 8, 2014
Liam Neeson has been Batman‘s trainer (Batman Begins), a rebellious member of the Jedi council (Star Wars Episode One), Zeus (Clash of the Titans), and the voice of the lion Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia). He also played lead roles in the Taken series, and had his breakout role in Schindler’s List. He might have missed out on much of that if he had been James Bond, and Natasha Richardson wasn’t going to let it happen.
Even five years after Liam Neeson’s wife died in a tragic skiing accident, the actor stated in an interview how it just doesn’t feel real. Natasha Richardson’s death hasn’t fully registered for the 61 year old with the impressive resume of film roles:
“There’s periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years … anytime I hear that door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her. It hits you. It’s like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability. The Earth isn’t stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes.”
Liam Neeson recalled the moment he made the life-changing choice:
“I was heavily courted, let’s put it that way, and I’m sure some other actors were too. It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be said, ‘If you play James Bond we’re not getting married’. And I had to take that on board because I did want to marry her.”
Natasha Richardson had been extremely influential in the course of the actor’s career, probably seeing the image of James Bond as a womanizing drunk with a flagging sense of responsibility, and not wanting her future husband filling that role. Liam Neeson’s wife may very well have saved him from a life of cheating and scandal, since life often imitates art in Hollywood.
Liam Neeson says he takes his career as an actor most seriously, even keeping himself in shape:
“I keep pretty fit as a rule in life, because making any movie is a very concentrated period of time and you have to have your **** together. Especially if you’re playing the lead, you have to set an example. You have to be on set on time and I try to do that as often as I can.”
If you just can’t see him as James Bond, you can thank Liam Neeson’s wife for convincing him to turn down the role. With the memories of Natasha Richardson still warming his heart five years after her death, Neeson wouldn’t have it any other way.
[image via uthmag]