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, Liam 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 Liam 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 Richardson and Daniel Neeson. 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 passing.
Liam has since opened up about how he and his sons coped with the loss as well as the huge role his mother-in-law – also a legendary actress in her own right – played in supporting the family. In March 2009, Natasha 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. Liam, 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 passing, Liam 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.
Liam had to become strong for his two sons, who were just 12 and 13 when their mother died. In an interview with CBS in 2014, Liam described just 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.”
It’s likely Natasha’s motherly instincts were passed down to her from her mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, who stepped in to help Liam raise her grandsons after her daughter’s tragic passing. Back during Natasha and Liam’s wedding, Redgrave had been the one to walk her daughter down the aisle as her father had already passed. She also became someone to lean on for Liam and the kids in the wake of Natasha’s passing. Liam and Redgrave were seen comforting each other at Natasha’s funeral, where the actor stood in as a pallbearer. Liam later told the Independent that Redgrave’s support was one of the reasons he was able to carry on in his career.
“I have a great support system, and if I’m away on a project, my mother-in-law moves in,” he said. He added Redgrave would always be willing to lend a helping hand.
Redgrave also shared in Liam’s grief that lingered long after Natasha’s passing. She told People in 2019:
“Time does not heal; that would seem to me to say that suddenly it’s okay, and it’s not. It never becomes OK.”
Redgrave’s second daughter, actress Joely Richardson, said in the same interview, “You are different. You aren’t stronger or weaker. Just different – changed. What we have done well as a family is that in honoring and supporting one another, we reformed to become a strong, loving unit.”
Joely shared just how strong their family unit was in a social media post honoring her mother on her 86th birthday on Jan. 30, 2023. The photos included one of Redgrave smiling as she sat outdoors with her dogs, as well as a few throwback photos.
On Jan. 24, 2023, Joely also posted photos of her sister that was being auctioned off to raise money for a women’s charity. In the caption, she wrote, “Tasha said she felt safe in her husband’s arms. … T’s last professional portrait – never more beautiful, and in fact as serene and peaceful as an Angel.”