March 20, 2009 / 7:54 PM / 8 years ago

Liam Neeson puts next career steps on hold

3 Min Read

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson has led her husband, Liam Neeson, to set aside his career, at least for the moment.

Projects for Neeson, who left the Toronto set of the Atom Egoyan marital drama "Chloe" to be by his wife's side after she suffered a head injury while skiing Monday, are understandably on hold.

Neeson has been experiencing a career resurgence after the success of his most recent film, "Taken." 20th Century Fox's modestly budgeted thriller was a surprise hit in February, earning a whopping $200 million at the worldwide box office.

On the heels of "Taken," the actor has been under consideration for "Unknown White Male," an international thriller that Joel Silver's Dark Castle is producing for Warner Bros.

As the title character, Neeson would play a doctor visiting Berlin who suffers an injury that leads to a coma. When the doctor awakens, he finds he has been replaced by another man and then sets off on a quest to discover the truth. But given the unfortunate parallel between the protagonist's story line and the circumstances of Richardson's accident, it remains to be seen whether the project will proceed in its current incarnation.

The immediate prospects of other projects Neeson has been weighing are uncertain as well.

Of most imminent concern among his films is the work-in-progress "Chloe." Playing opposite Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried, Neeson depicts a man whose wife suspects him of cheating. The film began shooting in February, but it is not clear how much of Neeson's scenes had been shot or how a hiatus might affect production.

The Northern Irish actor has long been attached to "Lincoln," a historical feature that Steven Spielberg has been developing about the 16th president during the Civil War. The project was not expected to begin production soon, but Neeson's uncertain status could further cloud its fate.

Even if he opts not to jump back into work, Neeson has completed several films that could be released in the coming year.

He stars as a former Irish Republican Army rebel seeking forgiveness in Oliver Hirschbiegel's drama "Five Minutes of Heaven," which recently played the Sundance Film Festival but has not yet sold to a distributor.

In the indie horror film "After.Life," he plays an ominous funeral director. The Plum Pictures production recently wrapped and does not yet have American distribution.

Tragic events in the personal lives of stars have tended to place actors' careers on temporary, but not permanent, hiatus.

When Mark Ruffalo lost his brother late last year in a shooting, for instance, his directorial debut, "Sympathy for Delicious," was thrown into question before it got back on track at the end of January.

Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters

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