Byline: Merle Ginsberg
Natasha Richardson, blond and sleek and wearing her usual sinewy black dress, thinks she looks fat.
“I didn’t know what to wear. My jeans don’t fit anymore, nor do most of the gorgeous clothes that I love. It’s just endless leggings and big tops from here on out,” she moans, in a suite at the Rihga Royal Hotel.
The fact is, Natasha Richardson is just about four months pregnant, and it’s putting a little bit of a cramp in her usual great style, even though she’s obviously overjoyed.
“I was a heavy smoker,” she sighs, “but I’ve stopped that. But, you know, you have to take it all with a grain of salt. You read some of those pregnancy books and they read like fascist manuals.”
Richardson portrayed the slinky siren in “Widow’s Peak” this year, and now Jodie Foster’s therapist in “Nell,” but she’ll take the next six months off and sit back and be a “set wife” while her very popular husband, Liam Neeson, brings home the bacon. But she’s already a bit nervous about getting back to movies post-baby.
“I’m really glad I don’t live in L.A. now. In L.A., Demi Moore has a washboard belly a month after giving birth! Hollywood won’t even let us be pregnant anymore. You see the body consciousness on actors too. They play archeologists in movies, rip their shirts off and the audience is thinking, ‘Some archeologist! You’ve been in the gym for two hours a day.’ I find the narcissism in Hollywood men more unattractive than it is in women.” In “Nell,” Richardson gets to fall in love with Neeson as their characters spend several months in the Carolina backwoods studying wild child Jodie Foster’s novel language and behavior. But having an off-screen relationship doesn’t always guarantee screen chemistry.
“I don’t think marriage ruins your chemistry,” says Richardson. “It is easier doing intimate scenes if you know each other well and are already quite relaxed. There are so many off- and on-screen chemistries that really did work — Burton and Taylor, Hepburn and Tracy. There can be great partnerships on screen that are tremendously exciting.
Richardson and Neeson are hoping to recreate the chemistry they had on stage in “Anna Christie” in another play they want to do in New York next year. But for now, besides set visits, Richardson will spend her time in the couple’s New York apartment and Connecticut home — and plans no Hollywood trips in the near future.
“I prefer having seasons,” she says. “It keeps you saner. And I couldn’t go down the street in L.A. and get a cappuccino or a newspaper. At least in New York not all of the things that you do relate to movies. “At this point in my life I know I would get too caught up in the competitiveness if I lived in L.A.,” she goes on. “It takes a very particular kind of person — someone like Jodie Foster or my father [the late director Tony Richardson] — to create there. I don’t know if I could. In L.A., movies are your life.”
Then she laughs like a real New Yorker.