Irish actor Liam Neeson tragically lost his wife Natasha Richardson after a skiing accident in 2009. The Schindler’s List star now raises their two sons, Michael, 17, and Daniel, 16, as a single dad.
Celebrity Baby Scoop took part in a SAG Conversation with Liam and Dermot Mulroney, his costar in The Grey. Liam opened up about coping with his wife’s death, digging deep emotionally for his roles, and doing a presentation at his sons’ school.
On choosing to act as lead in The Grey: “I lost my wife tragically three years ago, and I always found relief from tragic events in my life through working and getting the opportunity to work. I read this thing and it just read to me like an epic poem, for example like The Ancient Mariner, and it just appealed to me. It was kind of a no-brainer. It was just something I thought I had to do.”
On doing a talk at his kids’ school: “I’ve done talks at my kids’ schools, and of course there is always a biology or science teacher that gets up and says, ‘Mr. Neeson, I just wanted to let you know that wolves never behave in this way.’ To which I say, ‘Dude, it’s a mythological movie, like Jaws. Does Jaws have a great white whale? Yes, but it’s beyond that. It’s a movie. [laughs]”
On re-reading a book with his son: “Over the summer, my son who is sixteen had to read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, which is about an ascent of Mount Everest. I had read it when it first came out, and I reread it in light of my son having to read it over the summer. The book really affected my son, and it also re-affected me again in light of having done this film. It made us think of why people make decisions. For example, why The Grey’s character Frank, a tough guy fighting against the world, suddenly not only decides to give up, but also sees beauty for the first time. He conveys that very first subtle emotion, and of course society thinks, ‘What? You’re the tough guy, what are you doing?’ But we can’t quite go into his head. If you ever read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air about how many people lost their lives in the ascent of Mount Everest in 1996, it kind of all makes sense.”
On what it was like to film scenes in the below-zero weather: “We had no mobile homes to go to between set-ups. We sat on these cramped little snow mobiles, looking at each other and going, ‘What do we do now?’ [laughs] It was so cold that I experienced brain freeze. Dermot would say a line or Frank would say a line and I’d think, ‘Oh, it’s my turn’ [laughs]. The brain actually wasn’t working. It was brain freeze.”
On digging deep emotionally for the role: “You just do, you know? It’s about digging in deep into some emotion that you don’t want to share with anyone.”