Liam Neeson Will Lead TAKEN 2 This Year

Update: Since the text for this story was written, Deadline have edited their story and a deal for Neeson to lead the Taken sequel this year is close. Did the actor use Mike Fleming to get himself a better deal? Wouldn't surprise me. Deadline is reporting that Liam Neeson may not be reprising his role as the ultimate father figure (come on if you're kidnapped, he's the one you want coming after you!) in the sequel to the surprise 2008 hit Taken, due to scheduling conflicts. Writer and creator Luc Besson wants to film the picture this year, but Neeson has other plans that involve, well, doing nothing at all. Exhausted after starring in Unknown, The A-Team, Battleship and The Grey - along with supporting turns in Wrath of the Titans (now filming), The Hangover 2 and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - the guy is in need of a break! Making a sequel without Neeson seems unthinkable, but that never stopped a follow-up to The Mask without Jim Carrey being greenlit: and we know how that turned out! But Besson is a man prepared, and apparently already has a list of actors to replace him with Mickey Rourke, Ralph Fiennes, Ray Winstone, Sean Bean and Jason Isaacs all said to be in the frame. He's not ruled out a Neeson return completely though, and the pair are currently thrashing out a schedule that allows Neeson to take the time he needs to film in Istanbul later this year. With the first movie taking a worldwide gross of a staggering $227 million on a rather modest budget of $25 million, 20th Century Fox (who are likely to return as distributors) would prefer that he returns to the character of Brian Mills, a retired government operative. Transporter 3 director Oliver Megaton will helm the picture from a script by Robert Mark Kamen who penned the first movie, as well as the excellent The Fifth Element.
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