Liam Neeson says he was briefly courted about playing James Bond in the 1990s, but an “ultimatum” from his wife Natasha Richardson led him to turn down the job.
Though he made it clear that he was never officially offered the role, he did have some conversations with producer Barbara Broccoli that lead him to consider it.
Why did Liam Neeson turn down the role of 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,'” Neeson said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Neeson obliged, and the two were married in July on 1994. But he still decided to have a little fun with his wife about 007.
“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!” he said.
So why did Richardson discourage Neeson from such an iconic role? Neeson has an idea.
Natasha Richardson’s ‘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!” he laughed.
Nell came out in 1994, starring Neeson and Richardson as a doctor and psychologist who become fascinated by a young woman (Jodie Foster) who develops her own language after a lifetime spent living in an isolated cabin with only her mother, who’s recently died.
The following year, Pierce Brosnan made his debut as James Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye. Richardson died 14 years later due to a head injury while skiing in 2009.
Main Image: Liam Neeson in Nell. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.