Throughout Liam Neeson’s career he’s been known for taking on iconic roles in films such as Schindler’s List, Batman Begins, Gangs of New York, Star Wars, and Nell, but there’s one Oscar worthy film that he passed on, which might surprise a few people.
Liam Neeson passed on the opportunity to play Abraham Lincoln in the biopic directed by Steven Spielberg. Of course we know that the role went to Daniel Day-Lewis who famously transformed into the president and won the Oscar for doing so.
During an interview with GQ magazine, Neeson opened up about how he let the role slip away. According to the Taken actor, he agreed to star as Lincoln a decade or so ago, and then production didn’t seem like they were gelling which left Neeson to depart the production.
“I maybe did four years’ worth of research. Then we get a new screenwriter.” The new screen writer was Tony Kushner who decided to focus more on the last four months of Lincoln’s life rather than his whole presidency to his assassination like the original script outlined.
According to Liam Neeson the change in the script was so drastic that he couldn’t see himself portraying the new version of Lincoln.
“We started reading this, and there was an intro, and then I see ‘Lincoln’: where I have to start speaking, and I just — a thunderbolt moment. I thought, ‘I’m not supposed to be here. This is gone. I’ve passed my sell-by date. I don’t want to play this Lincoln. I can’t be him.”
Liam Neeson continued to explain how it was a hard decision to make. The actor had a lot going on at the time. One major thing to consider is that he might not have been in the best frame of mind as he had performed the table read a month after the death of his wife Natasha Richardson.
“It was a very strange feeling, and it was partly grief. I read very, very poorly by any standards, but then some people come up afterward and say, ‘Oh, you’re made to play Lincoln.’ I just was cringing with embarrassment.”
Even though the actor didn’t play Lincoln in Spielberg’s version, it doesn’t mean he isn’t up for portraying the president. In fact, Liam is still very much game if the right project came along, but for Neeson to play Lincoln it has to be a “old-fashioned biography.”
[Image Credit: M6 Films]