Taken star Liam Neeson has spoken of the ongoing struggle following the tragic death of his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, five years ago. Talking to Anderson Cooper for CBS’s 60 Minutes show, the actor described how he arrived at the Canadian hospital after Natasha hit her head in a freak skiing accident and was told she was brain dead.
He said, “She was on life support … I went in to her and I told her I loved her, said ‘Sweetie, you’re not coming back from this, you’ve banged your head, I don’t know if you can hear me.'” He continued, “She and I had made a pact, if any of us got into a vegetative state that we’d pull the plug … so when I saw that, these tubes and that … that was my immediate thought … okay, these tubes have to go. She’s gone.'”
Neeson, 61, went on to say that Natasha’s heart, kidneys, and liver are now keeping three other people alive. However he still expects his wife to come walking through the door.
“[Her death] was never real,” he told Cooper. “It still kind of isn’t. There’s periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years … any time I hear that door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her.”
For Neeson, whose wife was only 45 at the time of her death, the grief still affects him. “It hits you. It’s like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability … the Earth isn’t stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes.”
Cooper interviewed Neeson in the lead-up to the release of his latest film, Non Stop, which premieres next week. The softly spoken Northern-Irish man is somewhat surprised to be playing an action hero at his age! “I’m 61 years of age, man, you know? Going around, fighting these guys, yeah, I feel a wee bit embarrassed, you know?”
Neeson took Cooper and the 60 Minutes crew back to his home town of Ballymena in Northern Ireland and to St. Patrick’s Secondary School, where he had his first stage role and a teenage Liam would visit the one cinema in Ballymena up to 14 times a week. The boy from Ulster went on to star in such greats as Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, and Rob Roy.
The interview was broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.