After his Oscar-nominated performance in Schindler’s List, Liam Neeson was offered the coveted role of James Bond – a part he desperately wanted. Unfortunately, before he could accept this remarkable opportunity to play master spy 007, his then-girlfriend Natasha Richardson made it clear that she would call off their upcoming wedding if he took on such an iconic character.
Months before Schindler’s List captivated moviegoers, Neeson and Richardson had already met. After starring in the Broadway revival of Anna Christie together in January 1993, they tied the knot by July 1994 – an amazing feat that was powered by a strong connection between them. Nothing could stand in their way!
Neeson shared that he had a longstanding relationship with the Bond producers, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and his daughter Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson. And it wasn’t until after Schindler’s List hit big success that they reached out to him regarding possible casting as James Bond in the movie series.
“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,’” Neeson said.
Nevertheless, Richardson, who would later become his wife, was adamantly against him playing James Bond for reasons unbeknownst to us.
“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,’” he said.
Despite his future wife’s advice to not take the role, Neeson could not resist pretending he was James Bond. He confessed that he frequently was. “going behind her back, making my fingers as though I’m holding a gun, and [humming the James Bond theme],” he chuckled with amusement, adding, ‘I loved doing that s**t!”
He continued, “She gave me a James Bond ultimatum. And she meant it!”
However, why did Neeson’s future spouse not want him to portray James Bond? He proceeded to explain her rationale for the peculiar request.
“Come on. There are 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!”
When deciding who should replace Cubby as the new 007 agent, the Broccoli family decided that Pierce Brosnan was perfect for the role. He made his debut in 1995’s Goldeneye -the same year Barbara and her half-brother Michael took over from their father to lead the production of James Bond films. Both have continued to bring us thrilling stories about our beloved British spy!