Liam Neeson’s actor son takes stage name from mum Natasha Richardson
A son of Ballymena-born film star Liam Neeson has surprised movie insiders by launching his own acting career using the surname of his late mother Natasha Richardson and not that of his father.
Commentators have said Micheal Richardson's decision was motivated by a desire to honour the actress who died nine years ago from a head injury sustained in an accident on a Canadian ski slope.
"It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Micheal to trade on his father's famous name. But it appears that he wants to honour his mum and not rely on his dad's name," said one observer. "Not that the Richardson name will do him any harm anyway."
Micheal's 46-year-old mother was part of the Redgrave/Richardson acting dynasty that included her mother Vanessa Redgrave and her father Tony Richardson, the Oscar-winning film and theatre director.
People close to the acting world say the more readily identifiable Neeson name would have opened more doors for Micheal if he had chosen to use it.
The 23-year-old is billed as Micheal Richardson in an online promotion for a crowdfunding initiative on the Kickstarter site to raise money for a new film series called On Our Way.
Two instalments have already been completed, but the actors and producers behind the project have appealed for donations to finish the third episode, Entrée Des Artistes.
It echoes Micheal's past, as he plays the part of a young man trying to come to terms with the death of his mother.
In the video Micheal says: "Any little bit helps, whether it's one dollar or a thousand dollars, you are giving young minds the chance to be able to work and show talent. So thank you."
Four years ago he told interviewers that his Oscar-nominated dad pleaded with him not to follow in his acting footsteps.
At the time Neeson's elder son was working as the curator of a fashion art gallery. However, he said his late mother and her family were more supportive of his acting dream.
"Dad was like: 'Please become a carpenter or something'," Micheal explained. "On my Mum's side I was encouraged to do whatever I wanted. I've done a couple of drama courses.
"My inner actor is in there somewhere, it's lingering in the shadows."
He also revealed that he spiralled into a "dark world of drink and drugs" after his mother's death.
He told the Sunday Times a delayed reaction to his mum's passing led him to party wildly, smoke cannabis and drink.
But after hitting rock bottom he said he got his life back on track after undergoing what was called "wilderness therapy" in the US desert, where he lived in tents and got himself clean.
He praised his father and his work ethic in the same interview, saying: "It took him years to make it. He's an inspiration. He's a hard-working man, his mindset is still like his parents, I respect that."
Liam Neeson is in Northern Ireland shooting a new movie called Normal People.