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|Also Known As:||Natasha Jane Richardson||Died:||March 18, 2009|
|Born:||May 11, 1963||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||London, England||Profession:||actress|
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A scion of the Redgrave acting dynasty, Natasha Richardson offered impressive performances in a handful of film and television appearances, often employing a flawless American accent despite her proper British upbringing. Though she made her acting debut when she was just four years old, Richardson officially began her career doing regional theater in London and Leeds, where she delivered a sterling performance in "The Seagull" (1985). Much like her famous mother, Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson managed to avoid working alongside her own sibling, actress Joely Richardson, for the better part of her career. She also eschewed wanting to be identified with the family name, choosing instead to carve out an identity of her own. Richardson ultimately succeeded, becoming an acclaimed actress in her own right by delivering strong and memorable performances in both critically acclaimed fare like "Cabaret" (1998) and "Haven" (CBS, 2001), as well as in high-profile studio projects like "The Parent Trap" (1998) and "Maid in Manhattan" (2002). Not long after appearing with her mother in the films "The White Countess" (2005) and "Evening" (2007), the 45-year-old Richardson died tragically after being injured in a...
A scion of the Redgrave acting dynasty, Natasha Richardson offered impressive performances in a handful of film and television appearances, often employing a flawless American accent despite her proper British upbringing. Though she made her acting debut when she was just four years old, Richardson officially began her career doing regional theater in London and Leeds, where she delivered a sterling performance in "The Seagull" (1985). Much like her famous mother, Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson managed to avoid working alongside her own sibling, actress Joely Richardson, for the better part of her career. She also eschewed wanting to be identified with the family name, choosing instead to carve out an identity of her own. Richardson ultimately succeeded, becoming an acclaimed actress in her own right by delivering strong and memorable performances in both critically acclaimed fare like "Cabaret" (1998) and "Haven" (CBS, 2001), as well as in high-profile studio projects like "The Parent Trap" (1998) and "Maid in Manhattan" (2002). Not long after appearing with her mother in the films "The White Countess" (2005) and "Evening" (2007), the 45-year-old Richardson died tragically after being injured in a skiing accident in March 2009, leaving behind her husband, actor Liam Neeson, and their two young sons. Taken far too young, Richardson nevertheless left an indelible mark on the worlds of stage and screen, touching all who knew her personally and the fans who had enjoyed her elegant work as an actress.
Born on May 11, 1963 in London, England, Richardson was raised by award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and her father, Tony Richardson, the Academy Award-winning director of "Tom Jones" (1963) who was bisexual and ultimately died of complications from AIDS in 1991. Though too young for fears of nepotism, Richardson began her acting career when she was four, making her debut as a bridesmaid alongside her mother in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1968), which was directed by her father. Meanwhile, she spent several years attending St. Paul's Girls School in London, after which she studied at the Center School of Speech and Drama, where both her mother and aunt, Lynn Redgrave, also received their training. Richardson began her career in earnest performing in regional theater, including the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. She joined her mum and actor Jonathan Pryce for a production of Anton Chekov's "The Seagull" (1985) in London, and soon joined the New Shakespeare Company. Naturally, Richardson made her screen debut, albeit on American television, in the three-part miniseries "Ellis Island" (CBS, 1984), in which she played an anonymous young prostitute.
Often compared to her mother, Richardson made strides to separate herself professionally from her family in order to forge her own way. After making her feature debut with a small role in "Every Picture Tells a Story" (1984), Richardson was given her chance to shine with a meatier supporting role in "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Copper Beeches" (PBS, 1984), playing a governess who helps the famed detective (Jeremy Brett) and his loyal assistant, Dr. Watson (David Burke), solve a murder. Richardson proved to be a fine and capable stage player, bringing charm and a surprising vocal command to the singing role of Tracy Lord in a West End staging of "High Society" (1986), also starring Stephen Rea. Mixing stage and screen work with ease, Richardson was often cast in roles that combined a seductiveness with nervous, even neurotic, emotional tension. Director Ken Russell cast Richardson in the role of Mary Godwin in "Gothic" (1987), which she invested with calm and sanity in light of the overblown horrors around her. She was appropriately sensual as a vicar's wife in Pat O'Connor's underrated "A Month in the Country" (1987) and offered a stunning portrayal of heiress-turned-terrorist "Patty Hearst" (1988) in Paul Schrader's biopic.
In "The Comfort of Strangers" (1990), she was half of a torpid pair of tourists whose lives and persons are violated during a stay at a stranger's Italian villa. On the small screen, she excelled in two portraits of emotionally unstable Southern women: Catharine Holly in the remake of Tennessee Williams' "Suddenly, Last Summer" (PBS, 1993) and as "Zelda" (TNT, 1993), the mentally ill wife of American author F Scott Fitzgerald. Making her New York stage debut, Richardson reprised the role of "Anna Christie" (1993), picking up several accolades, including a Tony nomination, and later marrying her co-star Liam Neeson, after divorcing her first husband, producer Robert Fox, in 1994. She continued working with Neeson in the feature drama, "Nell" (1994), after which she took time off from work to give birth to the couple's two sons, first Michael in 1995, followed by Daniel in 1996. After a respite, Richardson returned to the stage, playing Sally Bowles in an acclaimed staging of "Cabaret" (1998). Critics were rapturous in their praise for Richardson who managed to obliterate memories of Liza Minnelli's film performance, and earned a Tony nomination for her work.
Back on the big screen, she was the ex-wife of Dennis Quaid, with whom their twin daughters (both played by Lindsay Lohan) try to reunite in the charming remake of Disney's "The Parent Trap" (1998). After playing a cancer-stricken mother in "Blow Dry" (2000), she earned an Emmy nomination for the made-for-television movie, "Haven" (CBS, 2001), in which she played an American woman who helped save the lives of one thousand Jews in Europe during World War II. Turning to more independent fare, she had a supporting role in Ethan Hawke's somber and experimental film, "Chelsea Walls" (2001). The following year, Richardson had featured roles in the dark comedy "Waking Up in Reno" (2002), about two adulterous couples who travel to Reno for a monster truck convention, as well as in the Jennifer Lopez vehicle, "Maid in Manhattan" (2002), in which she winningly portrayed an obnoxious blue-blooded New York socialite. She served as executive producer and lead actress for the dour, but erotic period drama, "Asylum" (2005), playing a bored 1950's housewife who falls in love with an asylum patient (Marton Csokas) under the care of her husband (Hugh Bonneville), the hospital's forensic psychologist.
In "The White Countess" (2005), Richardson was a Russian countess who fled her homeland during the revolution and moved to Shanghai, where she supported herself and her family by becoming an erotic dancer and occasional prostitute. Having grown comfortable and famous enough on her own, Richardson began appearing alongside her famous family – particularly her mother – with more frequency, including in the heartrending drama, "Evening" (2007), about a dying woman (Redgrave) conveying her life's defining moments to her daughters. After voicing martyr and Catholic saint Edith Stein in the documentary "Constantine's Sword" (2007), she played the headmistress at a British boarding school tasked with taming an incorrigible American brat (Emma Roberts) in "Wild Child" (2009). A bit of a "foodie" in real life, she also appeared as a celebrity judge in a Christmas-themed episode of the popular culinary competition series "Top Chef" (Bravo, 2006- ). It would be one of the last public glimpses of the actress.
On March 16, 2009, prior to the film's release, Richardson was in a tragic accident while learning how to ski in Quebec, Canada. She allegedly suffered a serious head injury following a fall on the slopes. Though she walked off on her own accord, she later complained of headaches and was rushed to a local hospital, where she was reportedly in critical condition. Husband Liam Neeson rushed from a film shoot in Toronto to be by her side. Several news and entertainment publications had wildly varying reports on her condition at first, but by the next day most had confirmed that she had suffered a serious brain injury. Two days after the accident, Richardson tragically slipped away after being taken off life support. She was just 45. The next day, the autopsy revealed that the actress had suffered epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head, or the buildup of blood on the skull, putting pressure on the brain. A day after she had passed, Broadway dimmed their lights in honor of the beloved stage actress while the rest of her fans and colleagues still struggled to understand how this could have happened after such a seemingly minor incident.
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CAST: (feature film)
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She was named after the heroine in "War & Peace"
"Who's the mom and who's the daughter in that family can get to be a perplexing business." --agent Sam Cohn on the atypical relationships in the Redgrave family, from PARADE November 7, 1993
"Question: Has your realtionship with your mother always been good?
Richardson: We went through some difficult times when I was a young child, when she was more politically involved than she is now. But now we're really close."
--from DAILY NEWS, March 15, 1998
"I love my family and I feel priviliged to come from it. But sometimes there's an idea that it's like royalty in some way. What a load of crap! We're a family of working actors, It's like coming from a family of carpenters or plumbers who work in the family business, generation after generation, that's all. Because it's acting it makes it more public, but we're worker bees, not royalty lying back on the couch. It's a really tough profession that has big perks and big priviliges, but you also have to constantly expose yourself to rejection, criticism and humiliation." --Richardson to DAILY NEWS, March 15, 1998
"Straightaway I am confronted by the gross unfairness of what might be called Natasha's dilemma. For most of her life, she has been portrayed as Vanessa's daughter. Now she is Liam's wife. Truly the resemblance to her mother is spooky. Though smaller and slimmer, the same finely drawn features stare back, For a moment, as I listen to her speak, all caressing cadences ending in trembly drifts, it could be an impersonation. Then I realise that I am making the mistake of seeking the similarities rather than noting the differences." --Noreen Taylor writing in THE TIMES, March 16, 1998
"I could write you a book on why not to get involved with an actor. Because anybody who is good at what they do gets totally obsessed by it to the exclusion of other people. Because of the physical distance often involved. Because careers sometimes move at different rates. Because, oh God, there are so many reasons I never, never wanted to be involved with an actor. Ever. [Of course] that was before I met MY actor." --Natasha Richardson to MOVIELINE, December 1994
After her the death of her father, director Tony Richardson, she discovered the manuscript of his autobiography which was published under the title "Long Distance Runner".
About her father, Richardson told AMERICAN FILM in March 1990: "He likes to give advice and is one of my strongest critics, ruthless in telling me what's not good enough, By the same token, he tells me when something is great. I really know he means that, and he also thinks in terms of career and things like that,"
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