How Former James Bond Hopeful Liam Neeson Lovingly Teased His Late Wife Natasha Richardson After Choosing Her Over 007

Liam Neeson in Taken 2
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

While these days it seems that every actor in Hollywood is either already playing a comic book superhero, or is in talks to become a comic book superhero, for decades one of those most iconic franchise film roles was James Bond. The role only came open every now and then and so when it happened it was a big deal, with all sorts of stars expressing interest in playing Bond. Liam Neeson was once considered for the role, but he walked away from it to make his wife happy, something he never let her forget.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Liam Neeson discusses the fact that he once did express interest in playing James Bond when the role was available. Back in the mid-’90s after Timothy Dalton left the role, Neeson was at least considered, but at the same time he showed interest in Bond he was also engaged to Natasha Richardson. Richardson, who passed away in 2009, apparently was very much against Neeson taking the role, to the point where he had to choose Bond or marriage. He chose the girl, but he apparently used to tease her about it afterward… 

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!

Of course, even if Natasha Richardson had been in favor of her husband playing James Bond, there’s no guarantee that Neeson would have ended up in the role. The role at that time ended up going to Pierce Brosnan and he had to have been a front-runner from the very beginning. He had been expected to take the role years earlier after Roger Moore left the part, but was contractually obligated to his Remington Steele TV show after the series was, somewhat unexpectedly, renewed before the next Bond movie went into production.

In the years since, however, we’ve seen Neeson build a second career out of action movies, so he certainly had the ability to handle that part of the job. He probably would have been a pretty good James Bond. In the end, I’m guessing that Liam Neeson doesn’t regret picking his future wife over a movie role. And he got to tease her incessantly because of it, which he apparently enjoyed quite a bit.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.