Natasha Richardson

Active - 1968 - 2010  |   Born - May 11, 1963 in London, England  |   Died - Mar 18, 2009   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The daughter of British actress Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, Natasha Richardson was named for the heroine in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Richardson made her film bow at age four, playing one of her own mother's bridesmaids in Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), which was directed by her father. Trained at the Central School for Speech and Drama, Richardson did her first professional stage work at the Leeds Playhouse in 1983 then went on to specialize in Shakespeare (like virtually everyone else of Redgrave lineage) at the Old Vic. In the company of her mother Vanessa and her Aunt Lynn, Richardson made an excellent impression in a 1985 staging of Chekhov's The Three Sisters; the following year, she won the London Theatre Critics Award for Most Promising Newcomer. The honor was a trifle belated, as Richardson had been acting on stage for three years and costarring in films since 1984's Every Picture Tells a Story. Her film roles have ranged from passive to aggressive but have always been distinctive. Among Richardson's most memorable film assignments have been A Month in the Country (1987), The Handmaid's Tale (1990), Widows Peak (1994), and the successful 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. She has done her most celebrated work on the stage, appearing in a 1993 performance in a PBS restaging of Suddenly Last Summer; an acclaimed Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie that same year (in which she starred opposite then-lover and eventual husband Liam Neeson); an incredibly popular 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret, in which she gave a Tony-winning portrayal of Sally Bowles; and the 1999 Broadway production of Patrick Marber's Closer, in which she starred alongside Rupert Graves, Anna Friel, and Ciaran Hinds. Richardson died in a skiing accident in 2009.

Movie Highlights

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  • Made her film debut at age 4 in 1968's The Charge of the Light Brigade, which starred her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and was directed by her father, Tony Richardson.
  • Made her West End debut in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull in 1985, opposite her mother and Jonathan Pryce.
  • Met husband Liam Neeson while doing the play Anna Christie together on Broadway in 1993.
  • Played daughter to her real-life mother in 2007's Evening.
  • Played real-life people several times in her career: Mary Shelley in Gothic (1986); Patricia Hearst in Patty Hearst (1988); and Zelda Fitzgerald in the TV-movie Zelda (1993).
  • Suffered a fatal head injury while skiing in Canada on March 16, 2009; she passed away two days later.