Liam Neeson Filming Sex Scene When Woody Allen/Soon-Yi Scandal Broke

Getty Images
Liam Neeson

The actor also talks to GQ about why he wasn't able to play Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's biopic and how he accidentally became an action star.

Liam Neeson has an intimate connection to the Woody Allen/Soon-Yi Previn scandal.

The actor tells GQ in its April cover story that he was getting ready to film a sex scene with Judy Davis in 1992's Husbands and Wives when Allen learned that Mia Farrow had found the naked photos Allen had taken of Previn, her adopted daughter.

STORY: Liam Neeson's 'Run All Night' Sets Release Date

Allen, who normally pays close attention to the schedule, was 20 minutes late showing up on set, Neeson explains.

"There's a scene where I'm going down on Judy Davis, right. Judy and I are in bed — obviously covered up — and as I'm going down, Judy's having this monologue in her head. And the crew are all ready, and we're waiting for Woody. No-show. It's starting to get a bit uncomfortable — it's a bed scene," the actor says. "Anyway, he came out after about twenty minutes and said, 'Okay. Camera starts on Judy. Liam, I want to just see the top of your head. Okay, we know where you're going …' So there was no apology; nothing."

Neeson later explains that he almost took the role of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's 2012 biopic, for which Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Oscar.

Spielberg had approached Neeson to play the role more than 10 years ago, and after doing four years of research, he says the script went from an old-fashioned biography to a film more narrowly focused on Lincoln's decision to emancipate the slaves. After his wife, Natasha Richardson, died, Neeson went to a script reading and realized he couldn't play the role.

VIDEO: 'Non-Stop' Trailer

"We started reading this, and there was an intro, and then I see 'Lincoln:' where I have to start speaking, and I just — a thunderbolt moment," he tells GQ. "I thought, 'I'm not supposed to be here. This is gone. I've passed my sell-by date. I don't want to play this Lincoln. I can't be him.'"

After roughly three hours of what Neeson says was a "very poor" reading on his part, where he felt no connection to the script, he told Spielberg and Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book Team of Rivals served as the basis for the film, that he couldn't play the part.

"Steven came over, and I said, 'Steven, you have to recast this now.' And he said, 'What are you talking about?' And I said, 'I'm serious. You have to recast it.' So I went back home, and that night I called Doris, and I had a wee chat with her," Neeson says. "And then I called Steven, and I said, 'Steven, this is not for me. I can't explain it. It's gone. It's not …' And he got it. He said, 'Okay.' And that was it."

Now Neeson is an established action star, having made two Taken movies and the recent hit Non-Stop, but that transition was supposed to be a detour.

"I really thought it would be kind of a little side road from my so-called career," the actor says of deciding to make Taken. "Really thought it would go straight to video. But it just got great word of mouth. I was stunned."