Liam Neeson attends White Crow premiere in London
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Most people cling on to their family name when entering the family workplace but Micheál Richardson seemed eager to step out of his father, Liam Neeson’s spotlight when he started to carve a name for himself in the acting industry. The actor instead wanted to honour his late mother.
Micheál, 25, is the son of Non-Stop actor Liam, 68, and the late Natasha Richardson, who died aged 45 back in 2009.
The latter, who had starred in films such as Maid In Manhattan and The Parent Trap, suffered a head injury while skiing during a beginners lesson and later died at a New York hospital, which saw lights across Broadway and London’s West End dimmed outside theatres to honour the actress.
Just shy of the ten-year anniversary of his mother’s death, Micheál made the decision to step away from the Neeson legacy, according to his grandmother, Vanessa Redgrave.
“He’s taken, officially, the name of his mother, he’s Micheal Richardson, not Micheal Neeson,” she said.
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The Oscar-winning actress went on to add: “That wasn’t because he wanted to avoid his father’s fame, which is enormous, he wanted to hold his mother close to him — because she was a remarkable actress – absolutely remarkable.”
Vanessa, 84, told the Daily Mail that she welcomed Michael’s decision to change his name: “Our quaint customs dictate we have to have a male name, I don’t object – why not? It’s as good as any.”
Michael was just 13-years-old at the time of his mother’s death during a trip to Quebec, Canada, and finds it painful to think of her death.
“I don’t, even still, think that I’ve fully comprehended it,” he told Vanity Fair last year.
He added: “I think the mind is very powerful, and subconsciously, or unconsciously, it can protect you. That’s what it did when she passed, I just pushed it aside and didn’t want to deal with it.
“I don’t, even still, think that I’ve fully comprehended it.”
While he may now follow in his parents’ footsteps, Michael almost followed another career path, having completed a fashion internship, shadowing tailors on Savile Row before realising that acting was his call.
Michael’s relatives on his maternal side have worked in the entertainment industry dating back to the 18th century after his aunt, Lynn Redgrave, managed to trace the family ancestry.
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His father told Vanity Fair: “With Micheál, acting is certainly in his blood.”
Since entering the film industry, Michael has starred alongside his father in the 2020 movie Made in Italy, taking on the role of Jack.
The films runs close to Liam and Michael’s heart, seeing the tale of a father and son struggling to cope following the death of the family matriarch.
Shortly after reading the script, Michael recalled looking over at his father noting that the “parallels were so apparent,” believing that his late mother “in a spiritual sense, had a hand in it”.
Despite taking on a role alongside his son, director James D’Arcy revealed that Liam was “scared” by the job. Speaking to Metro, he said that he received a personal email from Liam after sending the script to his agent.
He notes Liam saying: “‘I’ve read your script, and I really was touched by it, it moved me so much. And I’m a bit scared of it, and I think that’s the reason I’d like to be involved’, which is amazing.
“We had a cup of tea and Liam suggested, would I maybe meet Micheál, because he felt that there was something that they as a real-life father and son could bring, that you couldn’t act.”
While he may have only been 13 at the time of Natasha’s death, Michael said that he loves watching his mum star opposite Lindsay Lohan in the 1998 hit, The Parent Trap as she was a “sweet, amazing, mother figure” away from her career.
Liam and Natasha had a turbulent beginning to their relationship, with Natasha already being married to Robert Fox when they first started working together.
Sadly, hours before her death, Natasha suffered from what doctors call a “lucid interval” which is when a person who has suffered a fatal brain injury appears in a normal state, while blood builds on the brain.
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