August 12th, 2009
11:14 AM ET

Liam Neeson quietly attends premiere

"Five Minutes of Heaven" isn’t a big budget film, but one of its stars came out to support it last night in New York.

Liam Neeson

Tall and stoic Liam Neeson stood before a somewhat disheveled group of photographers as they did their job snapping away flash after flash. Along with the stills, a small press presence of television crews gathered outside the screening room of the Tribeca Grand Hotel.

We were waiting for the chance to speak with Mr. Neeson on his first outing since the tragic loss of his wife Natasha Richardson in March. Well before his arrival journalists were advised not to ask any personal questions of the actor. The publicist escorting Mr. Neeson down the press line never left his side during interviews.

As Neeson stepped up to speak with me I extended my hand. "Hello darlin,'" he said softly in his Irish accent. You could see in his light eyes that something had dimmed; maybe the great loss he has suffered is simply explained on his face. No need for a journalist to probe further.

The mood at this event was unlike any premiere I've covered in the past. Most film premieres replete with sprawling red carpets are spectacles. Photographers shouting, salivating to capture one more pose, journalists angling for a few more seconds with the actors, and publicists at the ready waiting to pull their charges off the line and into the safety of the theater away from the hungry press.

Respectful is an adjective I would never have chosen to describe a film premiere. But last night it was just that.

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. j.m. malcolm

    i've always been a big fan of liam neeson's, also of natasha richardson.very talented, classy people who didn't seem to crave celebrity attention and would do anything to get it. by the way natasha was a VERY talented actress, they don't just give a Tony award (and 2 other nominations) to somebody with no talent. i feel very bad for liam neeson and his two children and the entire family, i know what it's like to lose somebody suddenly

    September 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Agnes

    It is disgraceful that Liam Neeson has become an American citizen. As if America needs anymore citizens! He should remain a citizen of Ireland as that is the land that gave him birth and made him what he is as an actor. It is as if America needs to grab everyone of value as if they are the ones who made them what they are. This is simply a foolish notion and one that is offensive to Ireland. I will no longer go to a movie that he is in.

    August 27, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. waterman

    I have to agree with CD's comment. The problem with a lot of people is that they only read/see/hear things superficially, and make judgments from that. But that's what happens when our thought processes become marginalized by CNN-style 90-second blasts of 'news' designed to shock and entertain, then move on to the next item. I don't think May's comment was malicious or rude. I never actually heard of Ms. Richardson before her death, and I'm really not even a big a fan of Liam Neeson, truth to be told, but I'm sorry this thing happened to him, just as I'd be sorry if it happened to a friend or neighbor.

    August 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wisdom Hurts

    You know what? We, the world has lost a beautiful person, and Liam has lost his beautiful wife and best friend. It is very sad indeed. I lost my brother and one never gets over that loss, one just simply learns how to make the ache go away by learning how to live without the company of that person who is no longer by their side. It is the most painful, soulful journey that one must make during a life-time. Husssssssshhhhhhhhh listen...the stars are out tonight.......shhhhhhhhhhhh all this bickering is no use. May, one day you will be blessed by your own wisdom when you gain it. Wisdom only comes to those searching for it. God Bless us all.

    August 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tony

    I think Sandy means she didn't particularly like Natasha, not May

    August 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stacy

    I too can see the grief and sadness in Liam's eyes. I can only hope that as their children grow into the men they were raising them to be, he can somehow get the light back in his life he so deserves, and Im sure she would want. Natasha was a wonderful actress, my son and I just watched her in the Parent Trap again. What a loss to not only her family, but to the many good causes she supported like AMFAR.

    Natasha, you are and always will be missed. Rest in Peace

    August 14, 2009 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Donna W

    First of all Mr. Neeson is a very classy person he and his wife you could see truly loved each other.

    I think the press were kind to him because if everyone remembers when he was coming out of the hospital he turn and ask in a very civil and nice way please respect my loss.

    Then the day of the funeral he waved and turned and thanked the press for respecting his loss, he and his wife's family let the press take their pictures. Very, very classy.

    You give respect you get respect. This man realizes that being a star the press is going to follow you so he knows how to handle the press.

    It was kind of the press for treating him with class like he deserves.

    Keep making those wonderful movies LIam.

    August 14, 2009 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tracy

    What a profound and wonderful article. Thank you.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sandy

    You quietly attend a premier by coming alone or with your publicist and not with a date or an entourage. You dress simply, not to attract attention and don't wear sunglasses. You conduct yourself with dignity and grace.

    I too don't particularly like May, but will mourn her passing.

    August 13, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rosalynn Gatewood

    I loved Natasha and Liam as well. I thought Natasha was a fine and wonderful actress. She was great in everything that she was in. I was deeply sadden by her death. Being a Mom of three sons, I would not like to leave them so young. We never know what life holds for us. Liam will have to shine and live for his sons. Its' always a great lost to lose the love of your life. I will continue to pray for him and his family.

    August 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tony

    So what started out as a refreshingly warm sentiment about the tone of the media event has now been hijacked by childish sniping among people leaving comments. This is one of the downsides of blogs.

    Can I suggest that people stop wasting time and energy on this useless detour and go back to commenting on the original article.
    In other words, I'm suggesting the following: if you have something to say about the article, then say it. Otherwise don't.

    August 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sercee

    It's interesting to note that most of the comments opposing May's "I didn't like her as an actress" comment have been far meaner and disrespectful than May's. May's was opinionated but respectful. Her opponent's have so often just said "Shut up" like it's grade 6 or something...

    Regardless, it is refreshing to see the media allowing Liam his space and respecting his loss.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. sophie

    Hey May who asked you about how good of an actress she was? Liam lost his wife, their kids lost a mother and you are talking about how bad she was as an actress? shame on you.

    May her soul rest in eternal peace and may Allah continue to heal the family.

    Big ups to the journalists.......they are human's after all 🙂

    August 13, 2009 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Fawad

    Liam is pure class and so was his wife Natasha Richardson. Very few people with that kind of a distinguished personality in Hollywood. We can't begin to imagine his loss. Him playing a character who lost his wife does not come close to what really happened. As an actor once said acting is not about becoming a character but merely giving the illusion that you are the character, its only acting.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Darlene

    All ~ I can't believe that anyone would be so insensitive to such a tragic loss. Whether she was or wasn't a great actress is in the eye of the beholder. I'm happy to hear that such respect was paid to him. He is a true gentleman. And as soon as this happened, I did think of Love Actually which someone mentioned. He was terrific in that movie!

    Love and Peace to the entire family.

    August 12, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  16. loveliam

    Poor Liam -he looks so sad.
    I hope he can find joy and happiness in this life.
    His wife appeared to be a loving wife and mother -they were such a fortunate family – seeing her in interviews, she loved him so much, they were an awesome couple. Reminded me of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. You only get that once in a lifetime- and he has two beatiful boys to share his grief with him.
    Sadly, life is never the same- i'm with another poster, i wish I could give him a hug and make him feel better.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Delores Williams

    Some people are really so stupid that they forget that just because you're a celebrity does not mean you don't feel pain. I mean, the man lost his wife. It does not matter what kind of an actress she was. Her children are without a mother. ANYONE who has lost someone close to them gets that. Only stupid people focus on what kind of an actress she is. Duh!

    August 12, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  18. CD

    I have to say, the most insensitive thing on this board is the hatred spewed at May because she expressed an opinion. While I disagree with May and personally believe that Ms. Richardson was a terrific actress of the highest calibre, I also believe that this is a nation built on a foundation of free speech, and that Ms. May has a right to express her opinion. Nor was it particularly insenstive in and of itself, since her feelings on Richardson's acting had nothing to do with her feelings on the death of Ms. Richardson. The people here who have attacked her have suggested that she should be more sensitive (or should just "shut up"), while being insensitive themselves. Talk about hypocrisy. You have a right to say what you think, just as May does; it's just that you're being hypocrites because you pretend to believe in free speech, all the while trying to shuter someone else's free speech. That is something Ms. Richardson, who as an actress used her speech for many liberal causes, would have abhored. Just by being hypocritical and disrespecting someone else's view, you've proved that you didn't really understand what made Ms. Richardson great, and why she rises above you in spirit.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  19. sue calgary

    Natasha Richardson always came across as rather quirky in some of her movies!! What a lovely woman she was and what a tragedy her death was...

    August 12, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Jodi

    I admire the fact that the journalists took into consideration the feeling that Liam had during this event. It sounds to me like they did not pry at all. As a mother myself I could only imagine what it is like or their children to be without Natasha. I think that she is a wonderful actress and I will always remember her smile and the movies she has starre in. Liam Neeson as an actor will comeback in his own time. Just be patient. Thank you all for listening.

    August 12, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  21. SHERRY

    I seen a couple of her movies and I liked her very much, especially in the movie Nell where she and Liam met. She came from a great family of actors and actresses. Her death shocked me when it happened and still affects me now. I know her husband and children still grieve, they will stay in my prayers.

    August 12, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  22. elle

    it is nice to see that Liam is getting out and supporting the film. Why is everyone so down on May ? She is voicing an opinion and also sending her heartfelt condolences. These verbal attacks are not necessary and certainly unwarranted. People come here to voice an opinion and leave their thoughts regarding any given story. Anyway, I hope The Neeson family will heal in time and that Miss Natasha is resting in peace.

    Hats off to The Journalists.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Angie

    I admire his strength. My prayers are with him and his sons.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Brian

    Natasha Richardson was a wonderful actress. Her talent was evident in even the light-hearted roles she took in movies such as "The Parent Trap" with Dennis Quaid, and "Maid in Manhattan" opposite Ralph Fiennes. She had a wonderful range as an actress, comfortable with comedy and drama, in lead and supporting roles. Her work will live on for a long time to come.

    August 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  25. SharkGoddess

    Mr.Neeson is a gentleman and resiliant as ever. I really feel for him. Hollywood doesn't stop when there's a death in the family, not even for a spouse. The $$$ machine must continue. The show must go on. The $$$ must continue to flow as the schedules are kept regid & on time. Here he is stoicly braving a premiere only a few months after his beloved has passed on. He's to be commended for this for sure. This is truly the measure of a great man to look up. Thank you Mr.Neeson for your grace, courage and acceptence of responsibility. He didn't whine, nor cower but faced it head on. Thank you, sir. While we can't know the depth of loss for you, I truly hope the pain eases for you to once again enjoy life with your family.

    August 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Leela

    Ditto Tara's remark.

    August 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  27. kiki

    Tara....get a grip. May simply expressed her opinion of Natasha as an actress...not as a human being/woman/mother/wife. Although I think the comment could have been left off, it is simply MAY's opinion...that's all. You making a stink about it gives it more attention. Let it go. My respects to Natasha's memory and her family

    August 12, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Tania much for having an opinion on a blog site.....isn't the point to let people express their "own" thoughts and opinions.

    August 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Tully

    Liam Neeson is all grace and dignity in his mourning. What a gentleman! And, Natasha Richardson was a warm, caring and lovely person exactly as her portrayal in The White Countess.

    August 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Emily Ringström

    Good to know there still are some serious, respectful journalists... It gives you a sense of hope.

    As for Mr Neeson, words fail me. When tragedy occurs, there are no words. I only hope that he and his children are surrounded by friends and loved ones, who will carry them through this terrible ordeal. They need all the support and strength they can get.

    August 12, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  31. mazie916

    Who care's if she was a good actress or not. that is not the focus of this story
    Losing one's love in such a tragic way and the media was respectful enough to not go there is what is the story.

    August 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Lisa E

    How do you quietly attend a premiere?

    Is it normal to attend one loudly?

    August 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  33. lauratheresa

    It just seems insensitive to comment on whether or not you like an actors work–her husband is in mourning & i truly feel for the children. I think she was a beautiful person inside & out & a great actress. Liam also has a great work ethic & is so talented. "May" just made a goofy comment.let's all move on–peace

    August 12, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Diane

    May, as someone who has lost a spouse suddenly at a young age I think I'd be devasted if someone said of him 'I didn't like him much at his job, but, I was horrifed by his death'. Please don't pass personal judgement in the manner you did.

    Grieving isn't something that has any set time frame, Liam Neeson and the entire family are no doubt struggling with their loss, probably even more so now than when she first died as it takes time for the reality to sink in. Time doesn't heal, but, it makes the pain less acute, I hope that day comes for the Neeson/ Redgrave family, but, Natasha will never be forgotten.

    For the record she was a terrific actress.

    August 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Angel

    My heart goes out to Liam and his family.

    August 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Ralph

    Liam Neeson is pure class.

    August 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Tara

    Donna- she was "simply" stating a negative comment about a lovely woman that was tragically taken away from all. IF May was aked her opinion on her acting, then MAYBE I could understand. I definitely feel she could have kept that hurtful, negative feeling to herself. Family/friends could read that and it is just not necessary.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  38. kim

    Ken in Alpharetta,

    liam's character in Love Actually was one of the first things i thought about after hearing about natasha's death too. he was so good in that role, and it was such a tragic story in the movie. when i first saw the movie, i actually remember wondering if he had to imagine it happening with natasha to help with his acting and how awful that would be for an actor to have to even think about it, but to have to actually live through it a few years later is just hideous.

    my heart breaks for the whole family.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  39. christy

    to may: it's fine that you didn't like her work, you don't have to. But did you really have to make that the first thing you wrote??? I mean, how rude can you try to be?? Anyway, I thought Natasha was a beautiful lady and I agree that she and Liam reminded me also of "old hollywood". I will miss her work. My thoughts and prayers are with Liam and his children. I hope he is able to come back from this stronger than before and is able to put out more work equal to the quality of "Taken" or even better. He deserves it. He is an awesome actor and a wonderful and kind man. my deepest sympathies...

    August 12, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Passer by

    Someone said one wrong sentence and you guys are beating her but to death. Cool off already, people. I just do not understand it. Ever heard of "forgiving"? Seriously, we could use more of that in our society.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  41. JJ

    i love liam neeson! i didnt know much about his wife but i feel terrible for him. i wish i could give him a hug =) you have lots of supportive fans here on cnn!

    August 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Mel

    The unbearable tragedy this family has suffered is uniimagineable to me. My heart and prayers go out to Mr. Neeson and his family. I can only hope that in time he and his family find peace and that everyone keeps them in their prayers. Comments like the one made by May are unnecessary and rude. This are the time of comments that only hurt the family not help them heal.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Rene

    I don't really like May but I know I'll sympathize when she dies.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Donna

    Please leave May alone she was simply stating that she did not like his wife as an actress...and then goes on to express her condolences. There is nothing mean there at all. We don't all have the perfect words to express sympathy its not any easy topic to discuss.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Sherry

    Its good to see Liam getting out. Our thoughts are for Liam and his boys.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Kim

    How old are you anyway May? In this life we come across people whether we know them personally or watch on TV, Broadway or the Theater. I didn't know Natasha but I think she was a fantastic lady. Sure, she has had numerous dramatic roles. But if you ever get to check her out in Maid in Manhattan – It's a Kicker!. RIP – Natasha

    August 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Teresa

    Respectful, that's good. I love Liam.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Carina Lobel-West

    I wish more respect would be shown to the loss of MJ .....
    It is so right to behave in a way fitting such a loss, for Mr Neeson !!!
    Oh, but the lady was very funny indeed !!!
    U'll keep the angels laughing Miss Natasha, I know that to be so.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  49. sherrie

    yes may, pls shut up. both seem like such wonderful people. liam has always come across as such a humble person. my heart goes out to him & his family for their terrible loss

    August 12, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Tara

    Quite frankly May.....I am horrified by your comment. Clearly a very insensitive thing to say! Did you ever hear the phrase "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". Shame on you!

    August 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Jimmie

    How do you expect to succeed as a celebrity journalist if you can't be rude and crude. You just won't fit in all the others.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Superman

    I'm sticking up for the guy who's getting harrassed for his "i didn't like her as an actress" comment... Just because she died doesn't mean he has to like her work! Sure, it's sad and all, but relax.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Melissa

    Its about time paparazzi learned to be respectful.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  54. NYLA Princess

    In her death many now can make sure to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding or other activities that may harm you. Or even have yourself or your loved one checked out no matter the minor head injury. Everyone has an opinion and even if a person has died tragically, it is our right to voice it. Maybe you were not a fan of her on the big screen, but you cannot erase the great work she has done for Aids research and awareness. Her work in theater was exceptional. And she was a rare gem with her compassion and friendships. Yes, it's unfortunate that her boys do not have their mother. And her soulmate is now left to live on without her. But her family was a tight knit one and they will be okay. She had a beautiful smile that radiated. Genuine.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Lisa

    For once I agree with everyone, except one. May, classless comment. In terms of the press, nice to know that boundaries CAN be respected, because Mr. Neeson is probably nowhere near getting over his heartache. My prayers are with him and his family.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Susan

    I agree with Tim and Tara, who cares what you think May. It's a shame that your comment had to be the first on the list.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Anita S.

    You certainly can see that the grief remains in his eyes/face. I pray that he heals over time, though I'm sure he will never get over losing her. He's a great actor and they were such a lovely couple.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  58. MommaM

    I agree – I think it’s great to hear that for once the media was respectful of someone in mourning. It's also a tribute to Natasha Richardson that her husband and family loved her and their actions demonstrate that.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Josh

    Quote from pretend journalist:

    "You could see in his light eyes that something had dimmed; maybe the great loss he has suffered is simply explained on his face. No need for a journalist to probe further."

    I'm not sure it's possible to make a more idiotic disingenuous comment.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Bob

    Thank you – for being so respectful yourself, and for understanding the difficulty he must be experiencing with the conflicting need to still participate in industry events and the desire to escape until he heals. Hats off to you and the other journalists and photographers there.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Tim

    May. Who gives a flying pig whether you liked his wife as an actress or not? Shut up!

    August 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Doxiemom

    Mr. Neeson is a true gentleman. It breaks my heart to think of the heartache that he and his family endured in their tragic loss.
    He and his wife remind me of the old hollywood. Prayers to him and his children. May god give them peace in their life.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Mags

    Natasha Richardson was a great actress. A Handmaid's Tale and Widows Peak are two movies of hers that I really enjoyed. My sympathies to her family.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Linda

    Kudos to the journalists for being respectful to him. He is a great actor; his wife was a beautiful and accomplished woman, mother, actress, daughter. I hope the press and paparazzi will continue to respect his privacy and not ask the usual stupid questions like "How are you feeling after the loss of your wife?"...

    August 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  65. K Perry

    She was a fabulous stage actress, but had spent the last decade plus dedicating her life to her kids. Very tragic, but hopefully we've all learned a huge lesson from this.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  66. Lola

    Why do you have to comment that you didn't like her as an actress???What do you know? Keep your negative comments to yourself.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  67. Summer

    I think it's great to hear that for once the media was respectful of someone in mourning.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  68. ET

    You done good - respectful in this case sets a calm example of what's possible in terms of public behaviour. Thank you for your grace.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  69. Ken in Alpharetta

    It's sad that sometimes life imitates art.

    If you remember, Liam was in the movie "Love Actually", playing a character who has lost his wife tragically. The pain he expressed onscreen was palpable, and I can only imagine the sadness he has had to endure the past few months.

    My heart goes out to him and his family.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  70. tara

    So why do u need to mention that you didn't like his wife as an actress? He lost his wife and his children lost their mother is it really relevant at this point? who wouldn't be horrified by such a tragedy.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  71. May

    I didn't really like his wife as an actress, but even I was horrifed at her death. To be taken so quickly and in front of her kids..... My prayer to the family

    August 12, 2009 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |

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