Bravo; NBC; ESPN
Bravo; NBC; ESPN
We're pretty taken with Liam Neeson's antics these days!
The star has been on a hardcore promotional barrage to hawk his new flick Taken 2, the sequel to his hit $266 million-grossing hostage thriller. And boy, is he pulling out all the stops, doing everything from dropping trou to donning trashy wigs (more on those later).
But is this helping or hurting his bid to hype the flick—and boost his own profile?
Earlier this week, the star appeared on Ellen, where he stripped down to his underwear to raise awareness for breast cancer research.
And that's just the start of it.
On Wednesday, the 60-year-old thesp swung by ESPN's SportsCenter and ended up spilling more than just the latest deets on his movie.
During the interview, host Mike Hill asked the actor—a New York resident who was at Sunday's game between the Jets and 49ers—on Gang Green's stunning 34-0 loss. "Can you even act like the Jets are good this year?" Hill asked him.
Neeson, who admitted to not knowing much about American football, spazzes out for a second, before saying: "OK, we better start again, can we? Are we live? Oh, s--t!"
Somebody call the bleepin' police!
But wait: Neeson's promo tour gets even better.
Later on Wednesday, the star hit up Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live show with Ethan Hawke. There, the two donned wigs and put their thespian skills to the test by impersonating Caroline Manzo and Teresa Giudice from The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
"Release the Kraken!" Neeson cracked as soon as he put on his black mop of a wig before getting into full character.
"Don't point at me, do not point at me!" he railed, chastising Hawke/Manzo for not getting a facelift and then eventually flipping him the bird. Catfight!
Neeson's gonzo stunts, however, have left Hollywood's top PR experts scratching their heads.
"I think it's awkward, I think it's odd, I think it's weird," says Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations. "To go on SportsCenter and not know anything about sports? Why are you going on ESPN? What do you think you're discussing on ESPN?"
Howard Bragman, longtime Hollywood publicist and vice president of Reputation.com, gives props to the actor for attempting to think outside the box for Taken 2's press tour. But he notes that Neeson's ultimate goal—to drum up interest in the movie—seems to have been muddled by the antics.
"I can appreciate that he got a little punchy and he decided to do some different things," Bragman says. "But what seems to have been lost is the message of the movie in all this, and that's where the risk comes in…That seems to be where the disconnect it."
Ultimately, PR pros believe Neeson's out-there stunts aren't working in his favor.
"Do I think it helps? The answer is no," offers Torossian. "Does it have the potential to hurt? Perhaps, it could hurt." The solution, he notes, is that Neeson needs to "go back to basics and stop acting weird."
Bragman, for one, thinks a shift in priorities is in order.
"[Neeson] may be having fun, which I'll bet he is, but that's not the job of a press tour: to keep the actor amused," he says. "The job is to promote a movie and make a movie open."
We should find out soon enough if Neeson's bizarre shenanigans worked: Taken 2 opens this weekend. Then again, any chance to see Neeson do a Teresa Giudice drag run while spewing the phrase "Release the Kraken" is already a winner in our book.