“He’s taken, officially, the name of his mother. He’s Michéal Richardson, not Michéal Neeson,” the 23-year-old’s grandmother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, told the Daily Mail in an article published on Saturday, October 20.
The Letters to Juliet star told the publication that her aspiring actor grandson made the switch for sentimental reasons. “That wasn’t because he wanted to avoid his father’s fame, which is enormous,” she clarified. “He wanted to hold his mother close to him — because she was a remarkable actress. Absolutely remarkable.”
Richardson died in 2009 at the age of 45 of a traumatic brain injury following a skiing crash. Michéal, who was 13 when his mother passed away, was open about his struggles after her passing, admitting to drug and alcohol abuse. “In my mind, subconsciously, I either pushed it out or stored it deep inside. And so, within the next week I was like, ‘OK, on with my life,’” he told The Sunday Times in March 2015.
Michéal said he didn’t realize until later that he was acting out. “Things just started going downhill. The people I was with, we were partying a lot. It was dark. I hit rock bottom. Everybody said, ‘This kid has lost his mum, that’s where the problem comes from.’ And I was like, ‘No, it isn’t, I just like to party.’ But looking back I realize it was a delayed reaction.”
Oscar nominee Neeson also opened up about his own struggles following the death of his wife, whom he wed in 1994 after meeting on Broadway in the early ‘90s. “That’s the weird thing about grief. You can’t prepare for it. You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work,” he told Esquire in March 2011.
The 66-year-old actor, who also shared son Daniel, 22, with Richardson, continued: “It hits you in the middle of the night — well, it hits me in the middle of the night,” he says. “I’m out walking. I’m feeling quite content. And it’s like suddenly, boom. It’s like you’ve just done that in your chest.”
Daniel is expected to keep his father’s name, according to the Daily Mail.
Redgrave, for one, approves of her grandson’s decision: “Our quaint customs dictate we have to have a male name. I don’t object,” she told the publication. “Why not? It’s as good as any.”
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