Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It saddened me so much to hear of the passing of Natasha Richardson.
Much will be written and discussed in the next few days: there will be an outpouring of sympathy for her husband Liam (hubba hubba) and her children. There will be retrospectives of her work and the legacy of her acting family. We will learn lots and lots about traumatic brain injury and how seriously we must take what appears to be a mere bump on the head and then all the information and sadness and elegiac whatsahosit will fade as the next story pushes it's way into our collective consciousness. And then, because it's what we collectively do, just a little less than a year from now, we'll see her lovely face during the "In Memoriam" bit at the Oscars and we'll go "Oh, that's right...she did die last year, didn't she?" and some of us may even feel a little tug of sadness about it all again.

But I would like to say that when I read this morning that she was seriously injured and in hospital I was very concerned. When The Spouse called me this afternoon to say she'd passed the news went through me like a shard of glass. It wasn't quite like the whole Princess Di thing (which I should probably tell you about sometime) but it was a very visceral and painful response.

"Really? " says you..."she was that big a deal to you?"

"Yep," says me. "Pretty much". You see, I once met Natasha Richardson. (Actually, I think I've told you this story before but under the circumstances, you're going to politely indulge me). It was the summer of 1991, when The Spouse and I were engaged. He'd picked up some work on a film that was being shot in Seattle (back when they shot movies in Seattle) starring Rutger Hauer and Natasha Richardson. It was called "Past Midnight", it was shown on the telly and I think The Spouse and I were the only folks who ever watched it. Not the point. There was a cast and crew party aboard a boat and we went. We sat at a table with other folks from the crew (because sometimes cast and crew are chummy and sometimes they are not but usually crew hangs with crew and cast with cast and it is, ya know, kind of a caste system), drinking and enjoying the beautiful summer evening and generally, at least for me, thinking "dig this...there are famous people on this boat".

Then, one of those famous people came down the middle of the room. It was Ms. Richardson and she looked exactly as she appears on screen. She wasn't bigger or smaller or somehow altered...because, let's face it, there is a big fat difference between what someone looks like when they are on screen and made up and costumed and coiffed and lit. But she was just as lithe and beautiful and real and so very reminiscent-of-her-mum as she looks on screen.
And I dared.
I was sitting at the outside of the table and she was walking through the room greeting everyone...EVERY one...not just the Hollywood air kiss thing reserved for the "in crowd" you might expect. She came by our table and said 'hello' and I stood up and quietly said, "Ms. Richardson...I loved you in 'A Handmaid's Tale," and she took my hand and looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you...then it was worth the pain".

I realize on paper that might seem very swanning and pretentious. Except when that movie was released and she was junketing, she talked about how very difficult a film it was to make and how hard it was for her personally to approach some of the themes etc. etc. etc. It may not sound like a real moment on paper but it was. She was sincere and lovely and gracious and I have always liked her. I liked her before that (it started in 1987 with "A Year in the Country") and I've liked her since (including her lovely work in the remake of "Parent Trap"...which I realize will not be one of the things for which she is majorly remembered but I liked it so there) and I am just plain sad that such a silly thing could snuff such a lovely light entirely in advance of any reasonable expectation.

Rest in peace, Natasha.

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Blogger Doralong opined...

A very sad and tragic end indeed. She always struck me as a gracious and genuine person, who had enormous talent but obviously didn't take it for granted. But genetically speaking it probably would have been impossible for her to have been any other way.

March 19, 2009 5:23 AM  
Blogger Bad Alice opined...

I've felt very sad about this. It's not that I've kept up with her career or seen all her movies (I liked her in The Parent Trap too, so double there), but the suddenness of it, the loss of someone so talented so young and the thought of her family tugs at me. The common humanity thing, I suppose.

March 19, 2009 5:35 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

No doubt about that, Cuz, but certainly it would have been very easy for her to go in any number of directions given her lineage (including some messy, ugly, tortured I-drink-because-I'm-a-Redgrave-and-can't-handle-the-pressure thing). But she was all you said and it's just a stupid thing.

What you said, BA. Her kids are still young and I don't like thinking of Liam Neeson crying.

March 19, 2009 7:28 AM  
Blogger Sling opined...

She was all bright,and sparkly,and a bump on the head is no way to go.
I would add a profound 'WTF!' to your 'Dammit'..

March 19, 2009 9:47 AM  
Blogger Anne opined...

I've not met Natasha, but I, too, felt sad when I heard she'd passed.

And I have a daughter the correct age that allows me the Parent Trap fondness, too.

March 20, 2009 10:03 AM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

Wow, I didn't know you met her...I was also really affected by her passing, so I can't imagine what it was like for you.

RIP, Natasha.

March 20, 2009 7:50 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

I'll see your "WTF" Sling, and raise you a "And yet Dick Cheney still walks the earth".

Anne, truly, loved the remake, way more, frankly, than the original. Dammit.

MHP, yeah, I'm all know, I hang. But yeah, it's just not right when the good ones die young.

March 23, 2009 9:24 PM  

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