Liam Neeson's son hit rock bottom after mum died but U2's Bono and Vanessa helped him through
Liam Neeson's son has spoken movingly of how he coped with his mother's death, rehab and how his world famous father has schooled him in the significance of the Troubles.
Micheal Neeson described how family and friends rallied round to support him and his younger brother Daniel following his mother Natasha Richardson's death from injuries suffered in a skiing accident in March 2009.
One such family friend who gave his advice was U2 frontman Bono. "We were just talking and he said, 'Yeah I lost my mum at your age too', and that was all he said," Micheal (19) said. "Dad was really touched. Bono wasn't saying it as in, 'Look at what I became'."
Liam and his sons visit Ireland at least once a year, and Micheal has been brought up with a clear understanding of the Troubles.
"They were such a big part of Dad's life," he said. "It wouldn't be rare for a car to get blown up on his way to school. It was tough. The older I get, the more I realise, 'Whoa! We're blood, but we come from completely different walks of life'."
Micheal was only 13 when his mum died, and his grandmother, the famed actress Vanessa Redgrave, was great at helping him cope with the terrible loss.
"She's become a mother figure because she spent time looking after us," Micheal said. "I can talk to her about anything, and I'll go and ask her for woman advice. Not to sound cheesy, but she's a beautiful person."
He admitted he went off the rails while living in New York and filling the void left by his mum's tragic death with partying.
"I was putting socialising with my friends as my top priority," he explained.
"Rock bottom was when I chose to miss classes to meet up with them, as well as not realising that family and work come first."
"After a while, I thought, 'What am I doing? This is instant gratification - there's no substance to your conversation'."
Last summer, Micheal decided to turn his life around and spent a month in a wilderness therapy camp in Utah in the US.
"In order to find myself, I wanted to get down to the old roots of Mother Nature," he said.
"Of course, other articles bigged it up as a sob story about a celebrity child who goes to rehab, which really wasn't the case.
"What I wanted to address was a lack of motivation and direction in my life."
The young Neeson camped, cooked outdoors and even learned to stitch leather bags using primitive techniques, and made new friends along the way. He followed that with an apprenticeship at a Savile Row tailoring firm, which he says taught him dedication and discipline.
He is now set to open a new fashion gallery, Maison Mais Non, in Soho, next week.