Did the 'Star Wars' puppeteer, George Lucas, nearly force Neeson out of Hollywood?
Liam Neeson, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Credit: Bill Kaye/©Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM All Rights Reserved

”Phantom Menace” star Liam Neeson won’t be quitting the movies, after all. Although the Oscar-nominated actor recently told Redbook magazine (and later USA Today) that the George Lucas prequel would be his last film, Neeson said Sunday that he had spoken hastily and would likely return to movies after he had taken a good long rest. ”I had just come off playing Oscar Wilde on the West End stage and on Broadway and making two films back to back, and I was just kind of burnt out and wanted out of it all,” the 46-year-old actor explained at a publicity junket for ”Phantom Menace.”

Those two films, ”Phantom Menace” and ”Speed” director Jan De Bont?s prop-heavy psychological thriller ”The Haunting,” had caused Neeson to grumble to Redbook that film is ”a director?s medium” in which actors are merely ”puppets.” In a separate interview Sunday, Lucas sympathized with Neeson’s complaint: ”(Film) is a director?s medium, there?s no question about that. Once an actor goes on stage, he?s pretty much free to do whatever he wants. But in film, you can change the performance through the editing process and hopefully make it better.” Ouch!

Although Neeson admitted that he has no immediate plans to return to the big screen, he did say that he will ”probably do a play in the fall of next year.” Until then, he?s hoping to spend more time with his wife, Natasha Richardson, and their two children. Oh, and there?s another off-screen passion he?s considering. ”I do want to be a sheep farmer in Tibet,” Neeson said. May the Fleece be with him.

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace
  • Movie
  • 134 minutes