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Joely Richardson reflects on life following the loss of sister Natasha in 2009

 Natasha Richardson died in March 2009 when she was aged just 45

Joely Richardson and sister Natasha Richardson
Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
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Ahead of her debut in Renegade Nell and The Gentlemen, Joely Richardson has opened up about her struggle to find work when she returned to the UK following the death of her older sister Natasha Richardson

Her sister Natasha, famed for her roles in The Parent Trap and Maid in Manhattan, passed away at the age of 45 back in March 2009 after she suffered a head injury while skiing in Canada. 

Joely Richardson poses for Tatler© Aitken Jolly
Joely Richardson has opened up about the loss of her sister Natasha

In a new interview with Tatler, Joely touched on the horrific turn of events and why she picked theatre work over television. She was torn but her move back to the UK was partly to be close to her nephews, Natasha's sons with her husband Liam Neeson, who were only 12 and 13 when their mother died. 

"It wasn't a wise choice career-wise to go from mainstream television to doing sort of off-off-Broadway theatre, but that was the stuff I most wanted to do then," she said. 

At the time, Joely had attended "a run of funerals" which made her go into "soldier mode". She added: "I didn't know that's what I was doing… it's called 'soldier mode,' where you carry on but something's not right. 

Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson© Getty
Joely with her late sister Natasha Richardson and their mother Vanessa Redgrave

"I was permanently on alert and I worked off cortisol energy for a long time anyway, even before that. It's not good. It has no shelf life and it's an exhausting way to live." 

Of her return home, Joely remarked: "After 30 years, I just thought, 'Oh God, I don't want to be going into work and crying my eyes out and, you know, doing high drama. I'm quite happy to park all that for a bit." 

"But breaking into the English market was… it's ironic because a lot of the companies are American, but it was very difficult," she added. "I did lots of much smaller roles to keep working, because I didn't want to be away from home and loved ones for months on end any more." 

Joely Richardson graces the cover of Tatler© Aitken Jolly
Joely Richardson graces the cover of Tatler

In another new interview with The Times, 59-year-old Joely discussed the aftermath of Natasha's death and how it affected her. "It was a very strange transition that took years to happen," she said about taking on Natasha's role of being the family's organiser. 

"I wasn't doing it consciously. I was just getting on with it as anyone does when someone dies and the family absolutely goes into crisis. 

"It wasn't just about children being left without a mother. It was about the ramifications for me. I hadn't lived a day of my life without Tash. I didn't know the world without her." 

Joely confessed it took "about five years to get over the shock and trauma and horror" of losing her beloved sister. "Now we've had a decade of this new life and I feel we've done really well. It's become second nature," she stated.

See the full feature in the April issue of Tatler available via digital download and on newsstands from Thursday  29 February. Renegade Nell will be available on Disney+ from the 29th March.