One of the most memorable moments in “Atlanta” Season 3 (which is no small feat) comes in the form of a cameo from Liam Neeson. The actor appears as himself, sitting at the bar of an underground nightlife establishment for celebrities who have been publicly shamed, known as Cancel Club. Neeson has been exiled there due to the real comments that he made in 2019 when he said that he carried a gun for a week hoping for an opportunity to kill a Black man.
Neeson had already apologized profusely for the remarks, but the “Atlanta” cameo sees him subverting his own apologies and poking fun at the things that Hollywood allows white actors to get away with. The scene represents a perfect fusion of the real world and that wildly surreal “Atlanta” universe. But how do you convince a legendary actor to reckon with one of his most humiliating moments on national TV? In a new GQ profile, Glover explained how he got Neeson to take the gig.
“When I got in touch with him, Liam poured his heart out,” Glover said. “He was like, ‘I am embarrassed. I don’t know about this. I’m trying to get away from that.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m telling you, this will be funny! And you’ll actually get a lot of cream from it because it’ll show you’re sorry.’ So, he asked me to let him think about it. Then he sent me an email saying, ‘I don’t think I can do it and best of luck with ‘Atlanta,’ blah-blah-blah.'”
But Glover wasn’t ready to give up on the idea, so he began looking for another angle to convince Neeson that the role was right for him.
“Liam said [after the incident] he talked to Morgan Freeman, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee,” he said. “So I was like… Jordan Peele! I hit Jordan Peele up and I was like, ‘Look, man, I got this idea. He said that he trusted you. Tell him it’s a good idea!'”
Fortunately, Peele liked the idea and was able to successfully convince Neeson to take the role, and the rest is TV history — though Glover noted that Peele found the experience so surreal that he briefly wondered if he was the subject of a larger prank.
“Jordan thought it was hilarious! So Jordan talked to him. Liam hit me back and said he talked to Jordan and his son and thought it’d actually be a good thing. But what was so funny is, like, I forgot to hit Jordan back. I was so excited about Liam doing it. So Jordan hit a friend of mine, and was like, ‘Am I on a prank show where Donald got me to forgive Liam Neeson? Was this a joke…on me?'”
All four seasons of “Atlanta” are streaming on FX via Hulu.