When an actor becomes James Bond, they etch their name into a film franchise that has been running since 1962. With 24 films being made since Ian Fleming's novels were brought onto the big screen, there have only been seven actors who have played the smooth talking, martini drinking (shaken-not-stirred), last name first, British MI6 agent.

But there have been plenty of people who could have been James Bond before either being overlooked, declining the offer or deciding not to commit to a multi-film contract.

One of those actors was Liam 'I Will Find You And I Will Kill You' Neeson.

The Taken star was approached in the early 1990s when filmmakers were looking to find the man to play James Bond for GoldenEye. They wanted a successor to Timothy Dalton, who did The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, and they reportedly also asked Mel Gibson and Hugh Grant.

However, Neeson turned it down because he initially said he had no interest in action films.

Yeah, the guy who killed half the European sex trafficking industry, the bloke who tried to blow up Gotham City, the lightsabre duelling legend who taught Anakin Skywalker and the man who was one of four members of The A-Team wasn't a fan of action films.

But, it wasn't until years later when he revealed the true reason why he turned down the role of a lifetime.

His girlfriend at the time, Natasha Richardson, said she wouldn't marry him if he took the role.

The 65-year-old told the Hull Daily Mail: "I had to take that on board because I did want to marry her. I was heavily courted [to play Bond], let's put it that way, and I'm sure some other actors were, too."

Sadly, she suffered a horrific head injury in a ski accident in 2009 and died a short time later. He told Anderson Cooper: "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.

"[Her death] was never real, it still kind of isn't. There's periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years. Anytime I hear that door opening, I still think I'm going to hear her."

Neeson is known for his 'particular set of skills' monologue in Taken, which turned him into a certified badass. It's a shame he never got the chance again to pick up the Walter PPK and Aston Martin to become James Bond because he would have been awesome in the role.

Sources: Hull Daily Mail, Anderson Cooper

Featured Image Credit: PA/20th Century Fox

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