Natasha Richardson’s son Micheál still has vivid memories of his beloved mother.
The English actress passed away in 2009 at age 45 from an epidural hematoma, or bleeding around the brain, after a skiing accident. Micheál was 14 at the time.
“I was a mama’s boy growing up and she was really my best friend,” the 25-year-old told The Times on Tuesday. “I mean, we were all a close family, but [my younger brother] Danny was my dad’s boy and I was my mom’s boy, for sure.”
Micheál admitted that losing his mother at such a young age caused him to have “a bit of a head spin.” He spent years “distracting” himself from the loss. He still endures unexpected moments of grief.
Actress Natasha Richardson and her sons Micheal Neeson (L) and Daniel Neeson (R) attend the opening night for ‘Billy Elliot’ on November 13, 2008, in New York City.
(Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
“It was so sudden,” Micheál told the outlet. “When it’s unexpected and it’s just a complete freak accident, it really sort of messes with your mind, whether you believe in fate or not.”
Micheál explored the impact of grief in a 2020 film titled “Made in Italy,” where he worked alongside his father Liam Neeson. The movie is about an artist and his estranged son who reunite to sell the family’s Italian home, which was deserted after the death of the family matriarch. The once memory-filled home had fallen into disrepair.
Micheál said that when it came to pursuing an acting career, he chose to adopt Richardson as his stage name in honor of his mother.
The actor, who was born in Ireland and grew up in New York, wasn’t what you might call a “set kid,” but he would occasionally visit his parents’ rehearsals and shoots for plays and movies.
Liam Neeson (L) and son Micheal Neeson attend the Maison Mais Non launch party as Micheal Neeson launches fashion gallery in Soho on June 2, 2015, in London, England.
(Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Maison Mais Non)
He remembers bits and pieces of things, like visiting his mother’s rehearsals for “Cabaret” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” or his father on the set of “The Phantom Menace.”
Neeson, 68, likes to tell a story about how the then-2-year-old Micheál, who had never seen a “Star Wars” film, ran up and gave R2-D2 a bear hug.
But acting wasn’t an inevitability, even if it was always part of his life. It’s only been in the past couple of years that he’s gotten serious about it.
But Richardson was always on his mind while on the set of “Made in Italy.”
“Sometimes it hurts and the pain is too much and your mind can go on autopilot and you push away because it hurts,” he previously told The Associated Press. “That’s essentially what (my character) Jack did. He couldn’t remember a lot of things.”
“The takeaway for me is nobody knows how to grieve but the best way to do it is by carrying your loved ones with you, not shutting them out,” Micheál shared. “And honoring them and doing things in your life day to day that they would be proud for you to do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.