“Made In Italy” sadly hits close to home for stars Liam Neeson and his son, Micheál Richardson.
The pair play a grieving father and son in the new movie which comes more than a decade after the tragic death of wife and mother Natasha Richardson. The late actress died at age 45 after suffering from an epidural hematoma following a fall during a beginner skiing lesson at Mont Tremblant in Quebec in 2009.
Speaking with Graham Norton on Friday’s episode of “The Graham Norton Show”, Neeson says taking on the role of a man grieving the loss of his wife was “a bit near the knuckle” for him in the film which sees the actor reunite with his estranged son in Italy following her death.
“We can very much relate to that,” Neeson, 68, says. “When I read the script I thought, Oh my gosh, this is a bit near the knuckle. I felt a churning in the gut, but thought it would be great to do and to do it with my son.”
Richardson, 25, reveals the father and son “had a conversation about it” before accepting the roles in the film.
“I think dad was more worried about the publicity aspect of it and me getting questions about mum and other personal things, but I was pretty cool with that,” he says, adding that there were other things that were more difficult to deal with following her death. “Other than that, it was so odd that it was 10 years after mum had passed and we were actually selling a family home that she grew up in, so it hit a little harder for us.”
But Neeson explains that acting in the film proved to be “cathartic” for the family because they were able to have discussions they didn’t have in real life.
“It was cathartic in a way – the way in which art sometimes can be,” he says. “There were some very delicate emotional scenes, and I could access the emotion without any problem, I didn’t need days to build up to it and I thought Micheál would be the same. We had such a delicate producer and such a supportive crew that we felt wonderfully comfortable.”
Despite the subject matter of the movie echoing real-life, Richardson says he still had to audition for the role, to his dad’s shock.
“You auditioned? I didn’t know that!” Neeson exclaims.
“I auditioned for the part for my own dignity. I didn’t just want to be handed the part because he’s my dad,” Richardson explains, revealing what it was like growing up within an acting family. “I watched all their movies, but I was kind of traumatizing at the age of five seeing my dad sliced in half by a lightsaber or blown up in an explosion, and also kissing somebody else – as a kid I thought it was CGI or some Hollywood effect!”
“Made In Italy” is currently available on Crave and digital rental in Canada.