The Taken franchise—which stars Neeson as former CIA agent Bryan Mills rescuing his daughter, who has a careless habit of being kidnapped by terrorists in Europe—is a cultural touchstone. It’s been buoyed by wordy catchphrases like “what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you,” which would have sounded completely incomprehensible coming out of the mouths of 80s action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, but in Neeson’s Oscar-nominated intonation, it sounds impossibly badass. People love Taken, which sees the third film in its franchise released on Friday. And while promoting the film, Neeson explained to an Australian website that international love of Taken has had unexpected side effects—particularly as they relate to a planned class trip to Europe for an unnamed South Texas high school:
A couple of years back he received a letter from a South Texas teacher trying to get 60 kids on a European school tour, but 40 of the kids’ parents had pulled them from the program citing the Taken films.
In December, he received another letter from the same teacher saying she was now trying to get 20 pupils over, but was struggling again with parental fears.
“I was really shocked by that,” a genuinely disturbed Neeson tells News Corp Australia.
“These kids had never been outside the state and she was desperate to get some assurance but what I am doing is writing her a letter or a to-whom-it-may-concern letter that she can print out or send to these parents that this is a movie.
The chance of your kids being taken in Europe are one in 20 million or something.
“I was shocked, I was just shocked. With the success of these films there is the other side and getting a letter like that … It’s fiction, I know stuff happens in life but its still fiction, the Taken movies are fiction.”
That the Taken movies are not documentaries appears to be self-evident (check out this jump!), but Neeson is planning on writing an open letter to Texas parents assuring them of the safety of their kids, according to news.com.au—but since the parents seem to be struggling to distinguish fantasy from reality, he might make it easier on them if he just promised to rescue their kids if they did get kidnapped. And Neeson is a weird guy, by most accounts, so who knows? Maybe he will.