Liam Neeson turned down the chance to play James Bond over 20 years ago because his late wife didn’t like the idea of him playing 007.

The 64-year-old Ballymena man was in the running to play the iconic superspy when Pierce Brosnan was offered the role, and now admits his then-girlfriend Natasha Richardson influenced his decision to turn down the role.

“I was being considered. I’m sure they were considering a bunch of other guys, too,” he told Men’s Journal magazine.

Neeson and Richardson wed in 1994 but the Taken actor revealed his partner refused to walk down the aisle with him if he accepted the role of Bond.

“Women. Foreign countries. Halle Berry…,” he said before admitting he doesn’t regret turning down the part. “It’s understandable. She was like, ‘You’re going to ruin your career’.”

“It’s no big deal,” he tells the publication. “It’s nice to be inquired after.”

Natasha Richardson passed away in a tragic ski accident in Canada in 2009

Natasha Richardson passed away in a tragic ski accident in Canada in 2009.

In 2014, five years after the incident, Neeson opened up about the heartbreaking moment her life support machine was turned off.

At the time, the actor admitted he still couldn’t believe the news was real, and said every time he hears the door open, he expects to “hear her”.

“Her death was never real. It still kind of isn’t.

“There’s periods now 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,” he told Loaded magazine.

Neeson also spoke about the heartbreaking moment he was told his wife was brain dead.

“I went in to her and I just told her I loved her. I said, ‘Sweetie, you’re not coming back from this’,” he told the magazine.

“She and I had made a pact. If any of us got into a vegetative state we’d pull the plug.

“So when I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff that was my immediate thought, ‘OK, these tubes have to go. She’s gone’.”

The couple had two sons together, Micheál Richard Antonio who was born in Dublin in 1995, and Daniel Jack who was born in New York a year later.

Neeson and Richardson had two sons together –  Micheál and Daniel