Liam Neeson, famous for his roles in the “Taken” franchise, has a much quieter personal life than his on-screen persona would have you believe. He raised his sons alongside his mother-in-law.
Now, he is celebrating his mother-in-law’s 86th birthday with her and his two sons. The family has suffered great tragedy but has banded together throughout the years to support and protect one another.
Liam Neeson was married to the late Natasha Richardson, a famous actress who starred in titles like “The Parent Trap.” Her mother, Vannessa Redgrave, helped her husband raise the two boys they shared.
Neeson is notoriously private about his life with his sons. Still, his sister-in-law, Joely Richardson, recently took to Instagram to announce that it was her mother, who she calls Maman’s birthday on January 31.
Liam Neeson & Natasha Richardson, with her sister, Joely Richardson & their Mother, Vanessa Redgrave in New York City on November 14, 2000 | Source: Getty Images
Redgrave’s daughter shared a series of photos, one of Redgrave as she is now at 86 and one from when she was a little younger and her daughter was a child. She also shared other photos of her mother throughout her life and explained what was happening in each.
Many celebrities took to the comments section to wish Redgrave a happy birthday and wish her well for her future. Neeson is just 16 years younger than his mother-in-law and almost three decades older than his late wife.
Together, Neeson and Redgrave faced terrible heartache but came together for the sake of Neeson’s sons. They have now had many happy moments with the two boys despite the pain in their hearts.
Redgrave walked Richardson Down the Aisle at Her Wedding to Neeson
Before Neeson met Richardson, he was known as something of a ladies’ man. He was an eligible bachelor and very much enjoyed his single life until he met Richardson when they were both in the same Broadway play.
Liam Neeson And His Wife Natasha Richardson Arriving At The Uk Premiere Of The Chronicles Of Narnia, Prince Caspian, Vue Cinema, The O2, London | Source: Getty Images
He mentioned that he was taken with her beauty and her hair. Talking about the first moment they acted together, he said:
“I’d never felt that kind of explosive chemistry situation with an actor or actress.”
Neeson was asked if he could feel the chemistry between them on stage, and he confirmed that was true. He said that one of the things he admired most about her was that she had a “motherly instinct” and loved to look after everybody.
The couple bought an old farmhouse in New York and tied the knot there in 1994. Richardson’s mother walked her down the aisle and gave her way to Neeson at the altar. Richardson’s father passed away in 1991. He had AIDS and died of complications resulting from the illness.
The following year, Richardson and Neeson began expanding their family. The first child born to the couple was Michaél in June 1995. Eighteen months later, Daniel was welcomed into the family. Talking about the age gap between the children, Richardson once said:
“I had my boys eighteen months apart. Of course, we didn’t plan on having back-to-back babies. But life almost never goes according to plan.”
Liam Neeson with son attending the N.Y. Premiere of Warner Bros. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. November 10, 2002 | Source: Getty Images
Unfortunately, the happy life Neeson and Richardson were building was cut short. Her sons could not grow up with their mother, and Neeson and Redgrave took full responsibility for the boys.
Richardson Tragically Died at 45 Surrounded by Neeson and Their Sons
In 2009, Richardson was on a skiing trip in Quebec. She was with her eldest son, Michaél. While on the beginner’s slope at Mont Tremblant, she had an accident, which caused her to hit her head.
Richardson’s head was not protected by a helmet at the time, and an ambulance was called soon after she hit her head. Richardson then refused medical attention and went back to her hotel.
At the time, Neeson was in Toronto filming a movie, and Richardson called him. Neeson described the phone call and shared that Richardson said:
“Oh darling, I’ve taken a tumble in the snow.”
Natasha Richardson and actor Liam Neeson attend the American Ireland Fund’s 33rd Annual New York Gala Fundraiser at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2008 in New York City | Source: Getty Images
Neeson is now aware that Richardson was experiencing a lucid interval, which is a short period during which a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury can communicate and appears to be healthy.
However, while the person is in this interval, blood buildup in the brain occurs and causes fatal pressure. When this became apparent, an ambulance was called again three hours after her fall.
Neeson’s assistant let him know what was going on and said he should make his way to Quebec as Richardson was not well. He raced to his wife’s side, and when he arrived at the hospital, he was told his wife was brain dead.
Talking about the experience of seeing his wife’s brain scan, he said it was traumatic, and then he admitted he spoke to his wife. He shared what he told her, saying he told her he loved her, but she was not going to come back from the injuries.
Richardson was on life support at that point, and Neeson talked about what he and Richardson had agreed upon when she was alive. He said:
“She and I made a pact. If any of us got into a vegetative state, we’d pull the plug. You know? So when I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff, that was my immediate thought.”
Neeson decided then and there that he would take his wife off life support, per their agreement. He then donated her heart, liver, and kidneys, which he says are now keeping three people alive. Neeson admits it’s a lovely feeling knowing his wife’s organs are helping another family keep someone important to them.
Richardson’s official cause of death was named epidural hematoma. When they turned the machines off, Neeson and his sons were by Richardson’s side. The boys said that they felt grateful for the outpouring of love they received.
Son and Mom-In-Law Raised Sons Together
After Richardson’s death, Neeson and Redgrave took the reigns regarding raising Neeson and Richardson’s two sons. In late March 2009, Richardson was remembered at her private funeral service.
Vanessa Redgrave (2nd-R) and actor Liam Neeson (R) gather together with family prior to the funeral of actress Natasha Richardson at St. Peter’s Lithgow Episcopal Church on March 22, 2009 in Lithgow, New York | Source: Getty Images
The funeral occurred near the home where Richardson and Neeson married and raised their sons. At the funeral, Neeson put on a brave face as he comforted his mother-in-law through the service.
Neeson acted as one of the pallbearers for his wife’s coffin and wore a dark suit as his mother-in-law opted for white pants suit. Neeson attended the funeral with his sons, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece.
Many believed that Neeson was on his own in raising his children after his wife passed away, but Neeson confirmed this wasn’t true. He gushed:
“I have a great support system, and if I’m away on a project, my mother-in-law moves in.”
Michaél and Daniel were only 13 and 12 years old when their mother died, and it was difficult for them to adapt to not having their mother in the house; however, Michaél confirmed his grandmother “became like a mother figure.”
He said he was able to talk to her about anything that was bothering him and go to her for advice when he couldn’t ask his father. He also called his Hollywood veteran grandmother a beautiful person.