Irish actor Liam Neeson has built a big name for himself in Hollywood. From his starring roles in movies such as “Schindler’s List” and the action franchise “Taken,” the actor is one of the film industry’s top names. He’s been nominated for various awards over the years including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, two Tony Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. In 2020, he was even listed at number seven on The Irish Times’ list of Ireland’s 50 greatest film actors.
But while he’s had a successful career, Neeson has also seen his fair share of hardship and struggles. Most notably, there’s been one aspect of his life that’s been the hardest for Neeson to overcome — the death of his wife, Natasha Richardson.
A glamorous acting couple, they met in 1993 when they were both cast in a Broadway rendition of the play “Anna Christie.” At the time, Natasha was married to producer Robert Fox, although the couple was going through a divorce.
They began dating later that year and were married in 1994. Together, they welcomed two sons, Micheál and Daniel. They lived as a happy family for 16 wonderful years, but in 2009, tragedy struck. While on a ski trip with one of her sons, Natasha fell and hit her head, which led to brain injury and ultimately her death.
While he took time to grieve in private, Neeson later opened up about the loss to CBS reporter Anderson Cooper. He also spoke about how he’s stayed strong for his two teenage sons in the wake of their mother’s death.
Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson (2005), (Brad Barket/Getty Images)
In March 2009, Richardson was on a skiing trip with her oldest son in Quebec, Canada when she fell and hit her head. After the fall, during which she wasn’t wearing a helmet, she turned down medical attention and went on about her day.
But three hours later, Natasha was rushed to the hospital. Neeson, who was in Toronto at the time, immediately flew out to see her. When he arrived, he learned that his wife was on life support. He said that though he didn’t know if his wife could hear him, he told her that he loved her. He also opened up about a pact he and his wife had made, that if one of them was in a comatose state they would “pull the plug.” He told CBS:
“So when I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff, that was my immediate thought. Was, ‘OK, these tubes have to go. She’s gone.'”
Since his wife’s death, Neeson has been vocal about how much he misses her. He said that sometimes he still expects her to walk through the door of their home as if nothing had happened.
“It was never real. It still kind of isn’t,” he said.
Though over 10 years have passed, Neeson’s love for his late wife hasn’t faded. He said in an interview with The Inquirer in 2020 that he visits her grave every day.
“I speak to her every day at her grave, which is about a mile and half down the road,” Neeson said. “I go down there quite often, so I do speak to her as if she’s here.”
Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson (2008), (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
But as well as having to deal with his own grief, Neeson had to become strong for his two sons, who were just 12 and 13 when their mother died. Neeson had told Cooper during his CBS interview how much of a caring figure Natasha was. He said:
“She cared for everybody. She has a motherly instinct. And she’d make dinners for everyone and just looked after us all.”
So when that figure was taken from their lives, the entire family had to deal with the loss. Micheál Richardson, the couple’s eldest son, gave an interview with the Sunday Times Style in 2015, during which he talked about going through a “dark” period where he relied on alcohol and drugs to cope with the loss of his mother. He told the publication, as reported by The Belfast Telegraph:
“Of course, when it happened it was devastating. But in my mind, subconsciously, I either pushed it out or stored it deep inside.”
After he hit “rock bottom,” where he couldn’t leave the house or get up in the morning, he turned to “wilderness therapy” and was able to get his life back on track. He explained how losing the matriarch of the family was critical:
“Not having a mother figure definitely set the balance of the family off.”
But Micheál also credited his father for being an inspiration. Neeson opened up to GQ about being there for his two sons after Natasha died, but he didn’t gloss over the difficulties of being a single father. He said:
“My boys are teenagers. They’re experimenting. They’re flexing muscles and sometimes dangerous avenues, and you think, ‘F***. If Tasha was here, someone could share this.'”
Neeson proved himself to be a rock and inspiration for his boys during the incredibly difficult time that the family endured after Natasha’s death.
Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson (2008), (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Chanel)
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