Though everyone from Ian McKellen to Ralph Fiennes was considered, “we only recorded two,” says producer Mark Johnson. Brian Cox was originally hired, but “when we matched his voice with the visual presentation of Aslan, we realized it was not an ideal fit.” After trying out Neeson, Johnson says, “we knew instantly we had found our mane man.”
“I don’t know if I was perfect,” Neeson says. “I just tried to be real to the scene. I knew Andrew (Adamson, the director) did the Shrek movies, which I adored, and his choice of voices was superb. I thought, ‘I’m going to trust this man.’ ”
He also trusted son Michael, 10, to fill him in on the story. “Frankly, I wasn’t aware of the books. He instructed me about Aslan.”
Neeson borrowed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from his son and read it in three hours before meeting with Adamson.
“I feel kind of ashamed,” says the actor. “They are such beautiful books. Here I am, a Belfast man. I was born 30 miles from C.S. Lewis.” Neeson had to tame his Irish accent for his performance, though. “We Europeanized it, so hopefully it will play all over the world.”