Remembering Natasha Richardson (1963 – 2009)

Natasha Richardson has died and I think I’m echoing many of you when I say this one just hurts all around. It hurts because, yes Natasha was a fine actress of stage and screen. And yes, she was a proud carrier of the Redgrave tradition. And it hurts because she and Liam Neeson just oozed charm and class. And it hurts because of the circumstances — almost too absurd and random to be believed. But most of all it hurts because you think of her family, her grieving husband, her mother, and tragically, her two young sons.

This might sound like an absurd anecdote to conjure up at a time like this but it’s my only personal memory of Richardson beyond the work she contributed. I was working for Charlie Rose’s talk-show at the time (this was probably about seven years ago) and I was standing awkwardly in the greenroom with Natasha as was her publicist or whatever handler accompanied her that day. Small talk only goes so far in such situations and there was a lull where I was just standing there, waiting and hoping for the uncomfortable silence to end. Then, out of the silence came her regal (even lyrical) voice saying the following without a trace of irony: “say, did anyone see ’Temptation Island’ last night?!?” I’ve had a soft spot for Natasha Richardson ever since. I know it says nothing about her life as an actress or a mother but damnit if it doesn’t convey how endearing she could be.