Liam Neeson remembers Keith Richards’ “speed” joke in airport

The 'Taken' star was waiting to board a flight when The Rolling Stones arrived

Veteran actor Liam Neeson has told NME about the time he met The Rolling Stones in a holding room at Heathrow Airport, as they waited to board the same flight to New York City.

Neeson and his wife, late actress Natasha Richardson who died in 2009 after a skiing accident, were due to fly by Concorde but there had been some technical issues with the plane and they were delayed, the Taken star remembered.

Keith Richards was there [with] Mick Jagger,” Neeson added. “And Keith had obviously had a couple of sips of wine, let’s put it that way… And then he came up to me and said: [Neeson mimics Richards’ throaty drawl] ‘It’s funny, everybody wants speed but nobody’s got any! Hur hur hur.'” Richards, famous for his drug abuses in the 1960s and ’70s, then seemingly recognised Neeson and said, “‘Wait, I know you!’ and then he’d move onto somebody else. It must have been 20 years ago, maybe more.”


Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson in ‘Taken’ (2008). CREDIT: Alamy

Neeson had first encountered the Dartford-born rockers as a child growing up in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, during the 1960s. Jagger and Richards played local concert hall The Flamingo Ballroom with the Stones in 1964, and Neeson caught a glimpse of them as they arrived at the venue.

“I was too young to go [Neeson was 12 years old], but I remember being outside,” he said. “It was the first time I saw barriers on the street where the Flamingo was because the Stones were coming and I remember seeing and actually touching [drummer] Charlie Watts’ elbow as he was going in. They all had long hair, and it was like ‘Oh, my god!'”

Watts died in August 2021 a few weeks after an undisclosed medical procedure had forced him to pull out of some upcoming stadium shows with the Stones. “He was kinda my favourite [member],” said Neeson. “There was some mystery to Charlie. He was the best-dressed, and there was this wise look about him. And boy, could he drum!”

Liam Neeson in ‘Marlowe’. CREDIT: Sky

Neeson is currently promoting new crime thriller Marlowe, in which he plays the titular, down-on-his-luck detective who is hired to track down the ex-lover of a glamorous heiress, played by Diane Kruger. The film is based on the best-selling fictional character created by legendary American-British novelist Raymond Chandler during the 1930s.


‘Marlowe’ is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema now

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