Liam Neeson opens up about Natasha Richardson’s death on ’60 Minutes’

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The Hollywood star speaks for the first time about donating her organs on “60 Minutes” Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBS 6.

(CBS News) — Liam Neeson says the sudden death of his wife, Natasha Richardson, still doesn’t seem real, even five years after she died in a skiing accident at the age of 45. The star of films like “Schindler’s List” and “Taken” also speaks about donating his wife’s organs, his childhood and how his age is beginning to conflict with his action star roles in an interview with Anderson Cooper.

“[Her death] was never real. It still kind of isn’t,” he tells Cooper. “There’s 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.”

He recounts arriving in a Canadian hospital, where doctors told him Richardson was brain dead from swelling of the brain caused by her fall on the slopes. “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…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…’Okay, these tubes have to go. She’s gone.’”

Neeson says he did keep his wife alive for a short period so family members and friends could say their goodbyes. Then it was decided his dead wife would help keep others alive.

“Donated three of her organs, so she’s keeping three people alive at the moment…her heart, her kidneys and her liver. It’s terrific…and I think she would be very thrilled and pleased by that,” says Neeson. Watch an excerpt

But the grief remains. “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,” he tells Cooper.

Cooper and “60 Minutes” cameras went back to Neeson’s home town of Ballymena outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. There, the actor recalled the sectarian violence of the day and visited the grammar school where he played his first stage role.

Neeson currently stars in the action thriller “Non Stop,” which premieres next week. He says his age is beginning to contrast sharply with his role in it. “I’m 61 years of age, man, you know? Going around, fighting these guys, yeah, I feel a wee bit embarrassed, you know? “


  • airjackie

    A love story as only a few lucky humans find their soul mate and Liam had 10 years with his. He wife will always be with his as she is part of him. Some people are married and in name only and others just use it for show. Each second with the person you love is a memory forever.

  • Deborah Bellina

    I was very touched as I watched his interview. I two have lost the love of my life; a female surgeon that women around the world were about to have children due to his skills. Stephanie Powers, Liza Minnelli were just a few.

    I two still look for him everyday; hear a door open, it amazing the love in your heart never ends. It’s funny you carry the love with you where you go.

    I hope Liam John and his two sons; Daniel and Micheal’ remember there dear sweet mother and know that she is in a better place.

    Unlike other Liam and I (Deborah Anne Bellina) will always cherish the once in a lifetime love; will have to settle for just a little less.

    Liam; you are a great actor, man, husband and father.

  • Marie

    I love this man on film but after watching 60 minutes I so love and admire him as a man. I believe his wife is smiling on him at All times. As for his age, that’s one of the things that does it for me. He’s handsome and still vibrant. Reminds me of a James Bond or an older Batman. He has the look of a man with studied talents that doesn’t get forgotten just well perfected with time. I will always be a fan of his work.

  • Shelby McDaniel

    I like him, and his work. We have something in common—-organ donation. We had two sons to die. Paul,22, died of a stroke. We donated his organs. His heart recipient comes to visit us every year. My wife gets to hear her sons heartbeat again. Paul gave the gift of life to 4 people and helped over a 100 more live a better life with his tissue. Our son Ben,30, went cave diving at Vortex Springs, Ponce De Leon, Fl. but never resurfaced on Aug. 18, 2010. We have had many divers, cameras, cadaver dogs who detected decomposition scents twice, Bet is in the extreme end 165 ft. down and about 1600 ft. into the very dangerous cave. We are grief leaders at our church as we help people move on to create a “new normal”. It would be nice of Anderson Cooper contacted us. Thank you. Shelby and Patty McDaniel, Collierville, Tn. The Disappeared Program came to interview our family hoping that someone would know something or had talked to Ben that day. Two employees let Ben in a locked gate and forgot about him for two days before they called the sheriff.

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