Film interview: Neeson takes to the skies in his latest action thriller

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You’d think that the opportunity to surround yourself with a bevy of scantily-clad actresses in exotic locations would be one too tempting to resist.

But veteran actor Liam Neeson had a compelling reason to turn down the role of James Bond when it was offered to him during the early years of his career.

“I was heavily courted, let’s put it that way, and I’m sure some other actors were too,” says Neeson, as he chews thoughtfully on a toothpick and rests his long limbs on an armchair.

“It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be said, ‘If you play James Bond we’re not getting married!’ And I had to take that on board, because I did want to marry her,” he recalls, smiling.

Indeed, he did go on to marry the woman he’s referring to - the actress Natasha Richardson, who died five years ago following a tragic skiing accident.

In his first interview after her untimely death, the actor said: “It hits you. It’s like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability... the Earth isn’t stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes.”

Turning down the iconic 007 role certainly didn’t do his career any harm.

The former amateur boxer’s breakthrough big screen role came as Jesus Christ in 1978’s Pilgrim’s Progress, but it was 1993’s Schindler’s List which really propelled him into the limelight.

Since then, he’s cemented his position as one of the world’s best-loved actors with films like Love Actually and Gangs Of New York and, at the age of 61, is an in-demand action star.

There’s been The A-Team, the Taken series (the third 
film is currently in production) and now his latest flick, Non-Stop, in which Neeson plays a grieving federal air marshal who springs into action 
during a transatlantic flight when he receives a series of threatening text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk.

The film saw the cast, including Julianne Moore, Downton Abbey actress Michelle Dockery and Oscar-nominated 12 Years A Slave 
star Lupita Nyong’o, work 
for 40 days on a makeshift plane.

The father of two’s work ethic has served him well in his 40-year acting career.

“I made nine films last year, four of them were animated, it was stupid!” he confesses, smiling.

“I’m keeping busy, which is thrilling. I love to work.”

* Non-Stop is released on Friday, February 28.

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