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Liam Neeson reveals how he could have played James Bond – and why he passed up the chance

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Liam Neeson. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

Liam Neeson. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

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Liam Neeson and late wife Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson and late wife Natasha Richardson

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Liam Neeson. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

Hollywood star Liam Neeson has revealed that he almost could have played the part of James Bond – but had to pass on being considered for the role.

He turned down any chance of playing 007 because taking on the role would have ruined his chances of marriage with his late wife.

During a segment called “Celebrity True or False" on US radio programme, The Rich Eisen Show, Neeson recalled a period in the nineties before Pierce Brosnan became the sixth actor to play the iconic secret agent.

He said the film’s producers “were interested in me following Schindler’s List, but I know they were also interested in three or four other actors. No, I was not offered it – they sent out feelers. They wanted to see if I was interested in it”.

He continued: “I remember my dear, departed wife [Natasha Richardson, who died in 2009] said to me — we were shooting a film in North Carolina called Nell — and she looked at me straight in the face and she said, ‘Liam, if you’re offered this and if you do it, you know we can’t get married. And that was it."

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Liam Neeson and late wife Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson and late wife Natasha Richardson

Liam Neeson and late wife Natasha Richardson

The Ballymena native also joked that any time he and Richardson would have “little arguments”, he would tease her by singing the famous 007 theme tune.

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The 69-year-old further shared that his late wife was part of the reason he gained potentially his most famous role to date – tough retired CIA agent and do-gooder dad, Bryan Mills in Taken.

He told television journalist Rich Eisen he had already been sent the script for the 2008 action movie, but was able to plead his case for why he should be chosen as the film’s protagonist, when he met its producer Luc Besson at a film festival in Shanghai that he was attending with Richardson, who was there showcasing one of her own films.

Other facts Neeson revealed included how he drove a forklift for Guinness for over a year after dropping out of university, and how he appeared as a “playboy Irish terrorist” on a 1986 episode of Miami Vice.


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