In 2016, Liam Neeson, channeling his most serious and intense action movie inner-self, failed his audition to play a shopping-mall Santa Claus, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The searingly stern Ballymena actor has played a Star Wars Jedi Master, Michael Collins, the famous hitman Brian Mills in Taken but it seems that the role of Jolly Old Saint Nick was just beyond his reach.
We’re not quite sure children would be running to sit on this Santa’s lap, as Neeson came out with threatening lines like “I see you... when you are sleeping. I know... when you're awake.” What was even worse was when he was asked to “jolly” it up a little. Neeson’s grimacing smile would shatter glass!
In defending his stern and menacing approach to the character Neeson still in audition mode defends Santa’s use of the Naughty or Nice List saying “I think it's right. Do you understand what Santa's saying here? He's making a list - naughty, nice. He's detailed. He's single-minded. He's an eye in the sky bringing swift judgment.
"And that reindeer that ran over grandma? I will look for him, I will find him, and I will kill him."
Neeson is officially up there with the saddest of Santas. Move over Billy Bob Thornton there’s another Bad Santa in town and he looks miserable.
This isn’t the first time Neeson has used his intense vibes for comedy purposes. In 2011 he starred in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s sit come “Life’s Too Short,” alongside Warick Davis. This time he was trying to branch out and move into the standup comedy scene. “I’m funny right?” the deadly serious Neeson askes. The sketch gets dark quickly and Neeson’s performance is brilliant.
* Originally published in 2016.