For the first time since his wife’s untimely death in March 2009, Liam Neeson is speaking out about dealing with his personal pain in a candid new interview for Esquire magazine.
In the interview, featured in the magazine’s upcoming March issue, Liam spoke openly about the day his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died following a skiing accident near Montreal at the age of 45.
After receiving word that Natasha had suffered a head injury during a fall on the slopes, Liam – who had been shooting the film “Chloe” in Toronto – rushed to be by his wife’s side at the hospital and recalled the chaos of the scene.
“I walked into the emergency — it’s like 70, 80 people, broken arms, black eyes, all that — and for the first time in years, nobody recognizes me. Not the nurses. The patients. No one. And I’ve come all this way, and they won’t let me see her,” Liam recounted to Esquire. “And I’m looking past them, starting to push… I know my wife’s back there someplace. I pull out a cell phone — and a security guard comes up, starts saying, ‘Sorry, sir, you can’t use that in here,’ and I’m about to ask him if he knew me, when he disappears to answer a phone call or something. So I went outside. It’s freezing cold, and I thought, What am I gonna do? How am I going to get past the security?”
It was then, the 58-year-old actor recalled that a nurse recognized him and pointed him towards his wife’s room.
“I was so [expletive] grateful — for the first time in I don’t know how long — to be recognized. And 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,” he continued. “And all these young doctors, who look all of 18 years of age, they tell me the worst.”
Richardson was eventually flown to Lenox Hospital in New York City, where she died shortly thereafter.
In the wake of her death, Neeson said he coped by immersing himself in one of the things he knew best – work.
“I just think I was still in a bit of shock,” he told the mag. “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.
“I think I survived by running away some. Running away to work. Listen, I know how old I am and that I’m just a shoulder injury from losing roles like the one in ‘Taken.’ So I stay with the training, I stay with the work,” he continued. “It’s easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work. That’s effective. But that’s the weird thing about grief. You can’t prepare for it. You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work.”
However, as the actor explained, it only postponed – not prevented — the pain from setting in from losing the woman he married in 1994 and had two children with.
“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,” he said.
For more with Liam, read the full Esquire interview here.