Liam Neeson is famous for his acting range and ability to excel in a variety of different roles. He might be adding slapstick comedy to his already impressive repertoire if Seth MacFarlane has his way.
While The Naked Gun franchise began in the 1980s, the series of comedies are cult classics in Hollywood, and the slapstick humour resonates with audiences around the world to this day. The original was released in 1988 and was a smash hit, bringing in $350-million at the box office against a budget of just $65-million.
It has left traces in all entertainment industry sectors, such as the 2012 point-and-click video game The Naked Gun: ICUP by Gamecentric Media and Paramount, it also features prominently in The 80s-90s Combo Game board game. There is even a slot game with the same title that can be found on brands that feature top casino offers like Betfair and SunVegas.
With all that as a background, it makes sense that a modern reboot is in the works, the Naked Gun franchise still has millions of fans, and a properly done reboot would undoubtedly perform very well. However, the fact that Liam Neeson appears to be leading the race to take on the leading role made famous by Leslie Nielsen is somewhat of a surprise.
Neeson has played a wide range of characters throughout his career from being a Jedi in Star Wars to playing John “Hannibal” Smith in The A-Team to Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List and Ra’s Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises. Arguably his most famous role though was as Bryan Mills in the Taken franchise.
He has had roles in comedy pieces, such as playing himself in an Entourage episode, or as an overprotective father Love Actually. In all, according to IMDB, he has 135 major film and TV acting credits, but he has never done anything quite like The Naked Gun.
That isn’t to say he isn’t capable of pulling it off, just that there is no evidence of it in his career so far. On top of that, it might take audiences some time to come around to Neeson as a bumbling buffoon that seems to get by on luck alone when his characters are usually defined by grace, confidence, and poise.
There is no doubt Neeson has the talent to pull it off, but his reputation as a serious actor could prove a hindrance. This is something the actor himself recognises: Seth MacFarlane and Paramount Studios have approached me to resurrect the Naked Gun films maybe. It’ll either finish my career or bring it in another direction. I honestly don’t know,” he said, according to Screenrant.
It is no coincidence that he is being targeted by MacFarlane either. The pair met back in 2015 and Neeson appeared as a minor character in MacFarlane’s comedy Ted 2. The writer, comedian, and film producer has been keen to cast him in a movie since and insists the man who played Oskar Schindler is an undercover comedy genius.
Younger readers might not be aware, but it would be exceptionally fortuitous if Neeson did end up in The Naked Gun reboot because it would mirror Nielsen’s path to comedy. Before The Naked Gun series of films, Nielsen was pretty much typecast as a purely dramatic actor before the zany comedy instantly changed all those preconceptions.
It worked out back then, but that is no guarantee of success this time around. One thing that isn’t in doubt though is Liam Neeson’s talent, and it really would be interesting to see if he can pull it off if the rumours turn out to be true.