60 Minutes: Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson is one of the highest-paid and most recognizable movie stars in the world. From Schindler’s List to the top of the box office as a 60-something action hero, he has become a film fixture. He told 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper that his success is bittersweet, thanks to the loss of his wife, Natasha Richardson, in a skiing accident.
60 Minutes: Liam Neeson Ballymena
Ballymena in northern Ireland is the place where Neeson was born, and he looked back on his working class neighborhood, where he lived among hardworking Protestant and Catholic families, and he got his acting start in school, pursuing a young girl.
He remembered being onstage for the first time at a young age, relying on acting as an escape. Belfast was not a safe place in those years, but he managed to land an audition at the Lyric Theatre. He knew that acting could be his ticket out.
60 Minutes: Liam Neeson Excalibur & Schindler’s List
By age 28, he was cast in his first movie in 1981’s Excalibur with Helen Mirren. He got to ride horses, play in suits of armor, and get an agent through his friendship with Mirren. It took many small roles before he broke through as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s epic Holocaust film.
That performance netted him an Oscar nomination, but he said that he was dissatisfied with his own acting. “I didn’t own the part…. I didn’t see enough of me in there,” he said. That’s untrue of his action movies in more recent times.
At age 61, he laughed at his action antics, which he said are getting to be somewhat silly for a man of his age, though he might wish to be younger again. Taken, his first action thriller, came out when he was 56.
60 Minutes: Liam Neeson Taken Sequel
The film was made on a relatively low budget, and it surprised everyone, including Neeson, by becoming a smash hit. More recently, he can be seen in the movie Non-Stop, taking on terrorists during an airplane flight.
He stays in shape because his work demands it, and Taken 3 is on his schedule. It is estimated that he could make $50 million just from that movie, which is an unrealistic fantasy for a working class guy from Ireland.
The first Taken was released just two months before wife Natasha Richardson passed away. They worked together on Broadway in 1993, and he was taken by her beauty. The two of them had what he called “explosive chemistry.” Richardson, the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave, had two sons, Michael and Daniel, with Neeson. They were 12 and 13 when she died.
60 Minutes: Natasha Richardson Organ Donor
Neeson said that he would see the glass half empty, and she balanced that by seeing it half full. In March 2009, she hit her head while skiing with one of her sons. She turned down medical attention before being escorted back to her hotel room.
Richardson did not know that she was having a lucid interval following a traumatic brain injury. By the time she was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, the situation was dire. Neeson rushed from a movie set to a flight for Montreal, where the damage was clear on an X-ray.
Though she was braindead, she was on life support and he got to say his goodbyes to her. He explained to 60 Minutes that the couple had a pact not to let one another linger in a vegetative state. She was able to donate her heart, kidneys, and liver to three transplant patients.
60 Minutes: Liam Neeson Films
“It was never real. It still kind of isn’t,” he said of her death, mentioning that he sometimes still expects her to come into their New York home and drop her keys on the table. Neeson also talked on 60 Minutes about how grief comes in waves, ebbing with time but coming on unexpectedly.
As for single parenthood, he said things could have been much worse. Neeson’s friend Bono bonded with Michael over the loss of their mothers at the sage age in life. It was not long after the future that Liam returned to work, which he has kept up ever since, making over 20 films since Richardson’s passing.
He said he does not want to wallow, and he also knows that the clock is ticking on his viability as an action star. Neeson said he thinks his late wife would be “chuffed” (or “tickled”) by the surprising twist his career has taken since they were sadly separated.