Must… avoid… obvious… “Among his particular set of skills" gag… Urge to write…. Rising… Okay, we’re good. Ahem. Liam Neeson is getting deeper into the cartoon movie business, signing on to play a villainous raccoon in indie CG comedy The Nut Job.
The film, which Peter Lepeniotis has adapted from his 2005 short Surly Squirrel (see below), finds the titular squirrel and rat friend Buddy hatching a nut store heist that goes badly wrong in 1950s’ town Oakton. To add to their numerous troubles, they also have to deal with Neeson’s bandit-striped type. And no, it's not to be confused with animation's other famous bad-tempered squirrel.
“Having the distinguished Liam Neeson lend his talents as the raccoon villain is the perfect finishing touch,” says Lepeniotis. “His contribution fulfils that dramatic need in our comedy adventure. It’s an honour working with him.” Neeson joins a cast that already includes Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Stephen Lang, Sarah Gadon and Jeff Dunham.
While he’s dabbled in voice work before – most notably, his alternately gravelly and lilting tones are heard in Aslan’s mouth in the Narnia films, and he voiced Qui-Gonn for the Star Wars: Clone Wars ‘toons – this marks a period of his career where he seems to relish being a CG bad guy, since he’s also playing Bad Cop in Lego: The Piece Of Resistance.
Last seen in Taken 2, Neeson will next crop up in air marshal thriller Non-Stop, and Paul Haggis’ The Third Person.