Just a few weeks ago, Liam Neeson‘s thriller Taken soared past the $100 million mark while news came that Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating Abraham Lincoln biopic was ready to go forward with the actor in the starring role. At age 56, Neeson was reaching an unexpected peak in his career.
Those days no doubt seem a lifetime away to the actor after the sudden passing of his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, 45, following a skiing accident last week. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Neeson has shown a brave face to the public. But it’s unclear how and when the actor will resume his work once he’s taken time to mourn his loss.
When he rushed to Richardson’s side last week, Neeson was nearing the end of his work on Chloe, a drama in which he plays a doctor whose wife (Julianne Moore) tests his fidelity by hiring an escort (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him. Production will continue, and a source on the film says the actor will be needed for a day or two of additional shooting. ”We’re just waiting to hear from Liam on what he wants to do,” the source tells EW. ”We’re not sure about anything.”
Neeson has already completed several as-yet-unreleased movies. In The Other Man, which was shown at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, he plays a man coping with the loss of his wife (Laura Linney). And the thriller After.Life, currently in postproduction, features Neeson as a funeral director who attempts to bury a woman (Christina Ricci) alive. Meanwhile, the Irish drama Five Minutes in Heaven, which played at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is still seeking distribution.
Neeson’s participation in upcoming films is also uncertain, although the actor hasn’t officially pulled out of any projects yet. Producers of the thriller Unknown White Male — for which Neeson was in early talks to play a doctor whose identity is stolen while he’s in a coma — have said they’ll wait for him. Likewise, a rep for Spielberg confirms that the Lincoln project is on track to shoot later this year.
Though no one in Hollywood could expect Neeson to be thinking about such things right now. Just last week, the actor was the lead pallbearer at Richardson’s funeral in Millbrook, N.Y., a few miles away from the farmhouse where the couple married in 1994. Family members — including her mother Vanessa Redgrave, sister Joely Richardson, and sons with Neeson, Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12 — gathered with friends at tiny St. Peter’s Church to pay their respects to the actress, who died March 18 of a brain hemorrhage following the accident at Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant resort two days earlier. Richardson was buried near her maternal grandmother, actress Rachel Kempson, who passed away while staying with Neeson and Richardson in 2003. — With additional reporting by Nicole Sperling