Which Oscar-Winning Role Did Liam Neeson Turn Down?
Earlier this month, Liam Neeson told a UK publication that he turned down the chance to become James Bond. But, as it turns out, he wasn't done lamenting his lost roles.
In an interview with GQ magazine, the "Taken" star claimed that he was originally cast as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," a role that ultimately earned Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.
"Steven had approached me to play it … it must be 10 years ago," recalled the 61-year-old actor. "Sent me a script, and I was like, 'God.' And he told me roughly when he might want to shoot it, so I started researching. I maybe did four years' worth of research."
According to Neeson, it was around this time that the screenplay was rewritten to focus on the final months of Lincoln's life, rather than the birth-to-death biopic that was presented in the original script. Spielberg then gathered the actors for a read-through, and that's when Neeson began having second thoughts.
"We started reading this, and there was an intro, and then I see 'Lincoln': where I have to start speaking, and I just — a thunderbolt moment. I thought, 'I'm not supposed to be here. This is gone. I've passed my sell-by date. I don't want to play this Lincoln. I can't be him.'"
Neeson continued with the table read, but told Spielberg about his reservations directly afterward. Then, that night, he called the director to give him his final decision. "I said, 'Steven, this is not for me. I can't explain it. It's gone. It's not …' And he got it. He said, 'OK.' And that was it."
Spielberg later re-cast the role with Daniel Day-Lewis — an old friend of Neeson's — who went on to deliver a Neeson-approved performance. "When I saw the film, I was like, "He's ****in' Abraham Lincoln," he added. Academy voters agreed too, and eventually awarded Day-Lewis his third Oscar.
Nevertheless, Neeson finished by saying that he'd still like to star in a Lincoln biopic, albeit a more "old-fashioned" one. Then, maybe he can finally get that elusive Oscar, and we can take down the following photos (which we took the liberty of juxtaposing):