LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mel out. Liam in.
Actor Liam Neeson has been given the cameo role lost by Mel Gibson in the sequel to comedy “The Hangover” after a revolt on set against the scandal-plagued Oscar star.
Hollywood showbusiness papers said on Friday that Neeson, star of “Love Actually” and “The A Team”, would play a tattoo artist in “The Hangover 2”, the follow-up to the raunchy 2009 hit comedy.
Neeson told Variety he “just got a call to do a one day shoot on ‘Hangover 2’ as a tattoo artist in Thailand, and that’s all I know about it.”
Gibson, whose reputation has been damaged by leaks of threatening phone calls to his ex-girlfriend, was dropped from the movie this week after unspecified objections by the cast. The “Mad Max” actor also offended Hollywood’s Jewish community in 2006 with an anti-Semitic tirade that followed a drunk driving arrest.
The planned comedy cameo in “Hangover 2” was widely seen as a way for Gibson to improve his battered public image. The original movie was a popular hit and raked in more than $467 million at global box offices.
Celebrity media on Friday speculated that “Hangover” actor Zach Galifianakis may have been the star who most forcefully spoke up about not wanting to work with Gibson on the sequel.
Galifianakis said in a radio podcast earlier this month that he was having problems on his latest movie.
“I‘m in a deep protest right now with a movie I‘m working on, up in arms about something. But I can’t get the guys to (listen)...I‘m not making any leeway...It’s very frustrating,” he said on the alternative radio show, Comedy Death Ray.
Gibson, who won Oscars for directing and producing “Braveheart” and had a hit with “The Passion of the Christ”, returned to major movie acting in January in “Edge of Darkness” after eight years away.
But he has been embroiled for months in a bitter child custody dispute with his former lover, Russian-born singer Oksana Grigorieva. The pair split in early 2010.
Gibson, 54, has remained silent during months of damaging publicity and has rarely been seen in public.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte