It had to happen one day. After waiting what must have felt like decades for Steven Spielberg to get around to making his long-planned film about Abraham Lincoln, it would appear that Liam Neeson is finally done with hanging on, and has announced that he’s not going to be taking the lead role.
"I'm not actually playing Lincoln now. I was attached to it for a while, but I'm now past my sell-by date," he told GMTV (via Digital Spy), which presumably refers to the fact that he’s now two years older than Lincoln was when he was assassinated.
The Lincoln biopic has been a pet project of Spielberg’s, with Neeson always seemingly attached to the role, but it had begun to feel like a pet the director had forgotten in a corner of the yard while the rain poured down. And despite multiple script drafts, most recently by Munich scribe Tony Kushner, it kept being put aside for other things. Whenever Spielberg had a moment between films, the subject of Lincoln would raise its head again, but each time something else took its place.
Right now, Spielberg is preparing to shoot War Horse and has been busy keeping an eye on the post-production CG side of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Perhaps one day the fancy performance capture tech used on that film might mean Neeson can play Lincoln no matter how old he is, but you get the feeling that he’s so tired of trying on stovepipe hats that he might just cut his losses and swear off the role entirely.
And it’s not like Neeson’s hurting for work – he’s gearing up to play another US president, Lyndon B Johnson, in Selma (assuming director Lee Daniels gets the finances together) and he has other roles waiting.