When Ra's Al Ghul's casting for Arrow was first announced as Australian actor Matt Nable, I went in with an open mind. I was hoping for a Middle Eastern actor, but Nable seems a very capable actor and I'm sure his spin on the role will be excellent. When I heard Liam Neeson could reprise the role, I was very excited, though even when he expressed interest I wasn't convinced it'd happen, his free time and budget being quite inconsistent with Arrow's.
What shocked- and indeed quite upset- me was the backlash and rude comments towards Nable on the Arrow Facebook page. While it's commonplace to see actors bashed, ranging from Katie Cassidy/Laurel most commonly, often very mindlessly and in a bandwagon fashion, people haven't even seen Nable as Ra's Al Ghul and were quick to dismiss him because he wasn't Neeson. It was awful. Just to be clear, I do think Nable will be great, even if not as good as Neeson.
Now, let's establish something- Liam Neeson's Ra's is one of my favorite villainous portrayals of all time. To see him reprise the role would have been magical, but like I said, I was skeptical. Arrow's universe wants to be independent from The Dark Knight universe, not shackled to it, which could well have happened. Also, Neeson's agents would have loved a great deal of money, regardless of the guy himself's interests, and the filming commitments Liam already has were always going to be a problem. In short, I think the chance was always quite unrealistic.
As it turns out, all of that negativity and abuse towards the Arrow producers for not scooping up Liam when he was interested was unjustified. IGN today reported that Liam Neeson WAS offered the role, but couldn't work with it.
Mark Pedowitz, CW President, seemed to be of a similar conviction to me, telling Buzzfeed that:
“We quickly went to him, just on the off-chance that he had the time to do it.”
But as it turns out, Neeson didn't have the time, what with his commitments to other movie roles, likely on a far bigger scale than Arrow, no matter how good it is. I imagine if he truly did want to replay the role he'd be a bit disappointed too, but that's that. Maybe, as one IGN commenter joked, he should have dropped [Taken 3](movie:678612) and stuck with [Arrow](series:720988).
While it's a shame, it means we can see a new take on Ra's, which I'm very excited to see- and we'll first meet this version, alongside his daughter Nyssa (whom Katrina Law's portrayal of I like a lot better than The Dark Knight Rise's spin on Talia) in Episode 4 of Arrow, 'The Magician.' And I personally am very much looking forward to it.