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Thesp in for Mel

Neeson to replace Gibson in 'Hangover 2'

Liam Neeson has stepped in to replace Mel Gibson in Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover 2,” following a revolt by the cast and crew against Gibson’s involvement in the movie.

Neeson said he was invited to take the cameo role via his “A-Team” co-star Bradley Cooper, who stars in “The Hangover 2” along with Zack Galifianakis.

“I just got a call to do a one-day shoot on ‘Hangover 2’ as a tattooist in Thailand, and that’s all I know about it,” Neeson told Daily Variety. “I just laughed my leg off when I saw ‘The Hangover.’ I was shooting in Berlin earlier this year and rented it on the hotel TV.”

Neeson flew out to the set Thursday from his home in New York.

In a statement released Thursday, director Todd Phillips said, “I thought Mel would have been great in the movie and I had the full backing of Jeff Robinov and his team. But I realize filmmaking is a collaborative effort, and this decision ultimately did not have the full support of my entire cast and crew.”

The studio has scheduled “The Hangover 2” for release May 26.

“The Unknown” (previously titled “Unknown White Male”), the Dark Castle thriller that Neeson shot in Berlin earlier this year, is set for release by Warners in January.

Neeson most recently played another cameo as the Admiral in Universal/Hasbro’s “Battleship.” He will start filming Joe Carnahan’s “The Gray” in January, followed by further shooting on “Battleship” and “Clash of the Titans 2.” Then he’s lined up for Ji-woon Kim’s “The Last Stand,” and after that he hopes to play the lead in Brad Silberling’s “An Ordinary Man,” a low-budget drama about a fugitive war criminal in the former Yugoslavia.

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