The Love Actually Role Liam Neeson Almost Played Instead

love actually alan rickman and liam neeson

It's been nearly 15 years since Love Actually hit theaters, and in that time the movie has become a holiday staple in plenty of homes. Recently, Liam Neeson revealed the movie we have come to know and love almost looked very different. In fact, he was originally up for the role that Alan Rickman eventually played in the movie rather than the role of Daniel that he took. Here's what ended up happening, according to Neeson.

I was originally asked to do the Alan Rickman part. Now, of course, I can't imagine anyone else other than Alan. Ah, he's so fucking great in it. But I read it and thought I'd be more suited for the scenes with the kid. I think they'd cast my old friend James Nesbitt in the part but he had a conflict of dates. So since I'd shown interest they ended up letting me play Daniel. I've done several films with children and I just love acting with them. I learn so much from them.

Apparently, it wasn't Neeson's idea to take on the role of Harry, a besotted manager in a design agency who betrays his wife and buys another woman a necklace. That role was extremely emotional and eventually went to Alan Rickman, who has some very memorable scenes with Emma Thompson in the film. Liam Neeson told EW that he looked through the script and really wanted the gig of Daniel who is raising his stepson Sam by himself after the death of his wife, but at the time James Nesbitt had already been cast. Luckily, the spot opened up, and the much cuter role enabled Liam Neeson to work with then youngster Thomas Sangster. It was also far less heartbreaking than the role of Harry would have been. But it's worth a moment's thought to wonder what Liam Neeson would have been like in the role of Harry, as well as to wonder how James Nesbitt would have been opposite Thomas Sangster.

This wasn't the only instance of casting coming together rather strangely. In fact, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Eijofer were all cast because they were in the same play together and people working on the film saw it. And reportedly, there was some question about whether Colin Firth and Hugh Grant should simply exchange roles on the set, which also would have changed things quite a bit, as Grant played the Prime Minister and Colin Firth played a writer who fell in love with a young woman while working in France. This movie really could have looked very different.

These days Liam Neeson is more known for action films than either playing super emotional roles or bumming around with a kid on set. But it's nice to see him in a movie like Love Actually, where he isn't spurting one-liners every few minutes. You can catch Liam Neeson in a slew of upcoming movies, including the announced Marlowe (about a detective) and the Deep Throat movie Felt.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.