Liam Neeson on Natasha Richardson's death: 'It hits you in the middle of the night'

Natasha-RichardsonImage Credit: Randy Runner/WireImage.com Almost two years since the unexpected death of Natasha Richardson at age 45, after a tragic, seemingly benign skiing accident, Liam Neeson has opened up at length about his wife’s death in a candid interview appearing in the March issue of Esquire magazine.

At first, Neeson tells author Tom Chiarella he’s “too vulnerable” to talk about Richardson’s death. But a short time later, he does open up about it — in emotional detail. Neeson recounts those first moments after arriving at the Montreal hospital where Richardson was taken, and how he actually had to search to find a member of the hospital staff  who recognized him and let him in to see his wife: “This one, she says, ‘Go in that back door there.’ She points me to it. ‘Make a left. She’s in a room there.’ So I get there, just in time. And all these young doctors, who look all of eighteen years of age, they tell me the worst.”

Neeson tells Chiarella he thinks he survived his initial grief by going back to work (he was in the midst of shooting Atom Egoyan’s Chloe at the time). “I just think I was still in a bit of shock,” he says. “But it’s kind of a no-brainer to go back to that work. It’s a wee bit of a blur, but I know the tragedy hadn’t just really smacked me yet.” But he says he found getting back to work to be easier said than done. “That’s the weird thing about grief. You can’t prepare for it,” he says. “You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work.

“It hits you in the middle of the night — well, it hits me in the middle of the night. I’m out walking. I’m feeling quite content. And it’s like suddenly, boom. It’s like you’ve just done that in your chest.” 

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  • Shianna

    He went to emergency in Canada and he said there were a bunch of docs who looked 18yrs old. As a Canadian I can tell you you only get one young intern after another see you until they finally get a trained doctor and hopefully it’s not too late to help you.
    He should compare our overly frugal medical care to other countries and then sue our medical establishment. No one sues in Canada, that’s why there are more and more cut backs.

    • Mollie

      Um, I think he’s just trying to say that the doctors looked really young.

    • Kerry

      What a gut-wrenching admission. He spoke honestly and from the heart, and you focus on an off-handed comment about the doctors looking young? You didn’t get anything else from this?

  • tracy bluth

    It’s a terrible loss. I wish he and his sons the best.

  • Rebuttal

    As another Canadian in Montreal, I would like to say that I have had nothing but the best to say about our doctors. They practice medicine in an environment where everyone is treated equally, rich or poor, celebrity or not.

    Attacking the doctors or medical system without any knowledge of the efforts they put in is just biased heresay.

    The poor man suffered a terrible loss from an awful accident. I doubt any experience or memory afterwards would be pleasant.

    • Esaul

      He wasn’t attacking the doctors. He was making an observation. I don’t see him making a quote stating that the doctors are to blame for her death. Do you? Read it again and tell me if that’s the case, because I’m pretty sure it’s not.

      • Rebuttal

        Apologies for the misunderstanding, my comment was a rebuttal against Shianna’s comment.

  • ks

    Stay strong-We love you :)

  • Marie___no1

    I just want 2 say that liam,if u read this,i am so sorry 4 ur loss,natasha was the most beautiful woman,truly stunning,a great actress.i dont know how ur doing it,but ur managing 4 urself and ur beautiful sons.i wish i knew u,to help console u and be there 4 u.at 28 yrs old,i havent gone thru what u have,but i think ur such a strong brave family man,and i wish u and the family all the best.my thoughts r with u,love marie xx

    • Believe the hype

      Stalker alert!!! That was creepy marie!!

      • Redgemini72

        Ha ha, that was funny…. the comment was a little creepy.

  • myma

    We call the younger doctors “Dr Lizzie”, after my younger cousin who is a resident now. It is freaky when you have your first doctor who is younger than you, after 30-some years of growing up with doctors who are older than you.

    • b

      When I was 24, I went to see a doctor about a cough, and we realized we’d gone to high school together (she was a couple years ahead of me). She’d only been practicing a few months, but it was still weird for me to have a doctor nearly my own age. A week later when the bronchitis meds didn’t work, she looked deeper and had to tell me I had cancer. I think that she was nearly as shaken up as I was! I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to diagnose someone with cancer her own age any more than I was expecting to receive the diagnosis from someone my age.

      I am sure he wasn’t disparaging the doctors at all, but it’s just a fact that when you’re receiving horrible news, it’s a bit jarring to receive it from someone who is younger and looks less “authoritative” than you would expect. Doesn’t mean you don’t trust them or think they’re a bad doctor.

  • harry

    stay strong Liam!!!

  • Toni

    I feel so sorry for Liam and this did not deserve to happen to him and his family. My heart goes out to hi$ every single day. I am torn by the story. So sad.

  • Mia

    Besides Paul Newman & Michael Jackson I was never so sad to hear about a celebrity’s death than Natasha. Liam & Natasha seemed so happy. It is one of those marriages you want to read about 30 years from now they are still happy and talking about spending time with their grandchildren.

  • laurie

    How did this turn into a debate on each country’s health care.He was saying the drs didn’t recognize him anywhere,because they were all young.He wasn’t saying their age was relevant to care received.

    • California

      In the full article it’s clear that he is talking about two distinct things: how he’s never been so greatful for being recognized as a celebrity and the hopeless and lost feeling he felt when he first entered the hospital and no one recognized him and no one talked to him at all. Later, he goes on to talk about how he felt when he finally got to the room to be with her and the doctors were telling him there was no hope and how so very young they looked.
      The article made me cry. I can’t imagine how horrible that must feel when you have to rush to a hospital for a loved one.

      • California

        grateful* hello! lol

  • janet

    was this after “Love Actually” where he played a man who had lost his wife ?

    • BrandonK

      Yes.

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