Liam Neeson is opening up for the first time about the death of his wife Natasha Richardson, saying that even five years after a tragic skiing accident took her life he struggles to cope.
The couple was married in July 1994, and a decade later purchased an estate together in Millbrook, New York. For years they were seen as an example of the rare successful Hollywood couple, staying out of the spotlight and maintaining a strong marriage despite differing schedules.
But their seemingly perfect union ended in tragedy. Richardson died in March 2009 after suffering a head injury while skiing at Mont Tremblant Resort in Canada.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper for an upcoming 60 Minutes, Liam Neeson opened up about the emotional hours that she spent on life support after the accident
“She was on life support,” Neeson said. “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 … she and I had made a pact, if any of us got into a vegetative state that we’d pull the plug … that was my immediate thought … ‘OK, these tubes have to go. She’s gone.’ “
Though he was able to let her go, Neeson said his late wife has remained in his thoughts for the past five years.
“[Her death] was never real. It still kind of isn’t,” Neeson said in a clip of the interview released this week. “There [are] periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years… anytime I hear that door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her.
Professionally, Neeson has been able to maintain his career and even blossom after his wife’s death. The acclaimed Irish actor has continued on a path that began with 2008 movie Taken, becoming an action movie star even as he entered his 60s.
In his personal life, Liam Neeson has spent much of his time focusing on his two children with Richardson, 17-year-old Daniel and 18-year-old Michael. But he said the pain of his wife’s death still hits “like a wave,” saying that “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.”