Liam Neeson has already played a number of legendary characters that range from real-life figures (e.g., Oskar Schindler) to Jedi Knights, but fans are now learning that Britain’s most popular secret service agent could have been a part of his resume too if circumstances had been different. Speaking in a new interview with Rolling Stone, the 70-year-old actor revealed that producer Barbara Broccoli contacted him several times in the 1990s to ask if he was interested in taking on the role of 007, but he ended up having to turn down what would have been one of his biggest roles ever because of demands from his wife, Natasha Richardson, who passed away in 2009 following a skiing accident. According to quotes shared by Neeson, Richardson would not have married him if he had agreed to play 007.
From a Rolling Stone interview:
I had read that you turned down the role of James Bond in GoldenEye because at the time you weren’t interested in being a big action star.
I was not offered James Bond. I know the Broccolis. They looked at a bunch of actors. 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.” So I would tease her by going behind her back, making my fingers as though I’m holding a gun, and then [hums the James Bond theme]. I loved doing that shit! [Laughs]
She gave you a James Bond ultimatum.
She gave me a James Bond ultimatum. 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! [Laughs]