Update: Deadline have since updated their article saying Neeson will be back and filming may take place later this year or early 2012.
Nobody expected Taken to make $226 million when it hit in 2009, especially as January is usually the dumping ground for movies. However, its success turned Liam Neeson into a bit of an action hero, and lead him to roles in The A-Team, Clash of the Titans, and more recently, Unknown.
Taken 2 has been simmering in the background since, and Neeson confirmed earlier this year that the script was being written. However according to Deadline Neeson may or may not end up returning for the sequel.
Apparently Neeson wants time off (he’s made 8 movies in 2 years), but the producers don’t really want to wait:
I’m told Besson has teamed on a script with Robert Mark Kamen, and that he’s in talks with his Transporter 3 director Olivier Megaton to direct the sequel. But he has been dealing with a huge problem: Neeson has all but withdrawn from reprising his role as Bryan Mills, the retired government operative who in the 2008 original decimated the Paris underworld to free his kidnapped daughter. The reason isn’t money, but rather scheduling: Besson wants to shoot it this year and Neeson wants to take time off. Continuing without Neeson is hard to imagine, but I’ve heard Besson has gone as far as assembling a list of actors to take his place. That list includes Mickey Rourke, Ralph Fiennes, Ray Winstone, Sean Bean and Jason Isaacs.
Deadline goes on to say “things started turning toward a Neeson return but it’s by no means definite. Besson went back to Neeson, and they are working up with a schedule that will allow Neeson to shoot the movie in Istanbul later this year, and still give the actor the time he needs.”
I’m not sure how appealing a Taken sequel without Liam Neeson would be. It would obviously follow a similar story (ie. main guy kicking ass), but Neeson was partly responsible for Taken‘s success.
Would you see Taken 2 without Neeson?