It looks like things aren’t going as smoothly as one would think in pulling together a sequel to the 2008 break-out hit Taken, starring Liam Neeson. Following the success of the French action-thriller, producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (both wrote The Fifth Element) wrote a script for a sequel. Besson lined up his Transporter 3 director Olivier Megaton to helm the sequel, and everything was ready to go until they got to their lead actor.
Deadline reports that Neeson and Besson are at odds over when to film the flick. Neeson wants to take some time off (and deservedly so) and Besson wants to shoot the film this year. Apparently things got to the point where Besson assembled a short list of actors to replace Neeson that includes Mickey Rourke, Ralph Fiennes, Ray Winstone, Sean Bean and Jason Isaacs. While the report states that things started turning around for Neeson yesterday, he is by no means definitely returning. The plan now is to shoot in Istanbul later this year, while also giving Neeson the time off he needs. Given that the original grossed $227 million worldwide, it’s safe to assume that everyone involved is crossing their fingers for a smooth transition.
[Update: Well, now Deadline says that Besson and Neeson have worked things out and production on Taken 2 is scheduled to start sometime later this year or early 2012. So, nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.]