'The Grey': Come for Wolves, Stay for Liam Neeson's Amazing Real-Life Resilience (VIDEO)

It's easy to watch the trailer for The Grey and get sidetracked by what appears to be a nonstop battle of Man Vs. Plane, Man Vs. Elements, and finally, in a buzz-worthy scene involving Liam Neeson grimly strapping some broken bottles to his hands before charging a pack of snarling beasts, Man Vs. Wolves.

Honestly, they had me at "guy punches wolf with homemade glass knuckles," but now that I've read a bit more about the film, it sounds like a really compelling, heartbreaking story. Especially when you consider that Neeson's character in the movie is engaged in an internal battle that's more devastating than the chaos unraveling around him: he's lost in a world of pain, grieving his dead wife.

I'm thinking Neeson knows a thing or two about how this character feels, since it's been just three years since his wife Natasha Richardson passed away.


In March of 2009, Richardson tragically succumbed to an epidural hematoma after a skiing accident in Quebec. It was a sudden and shocking death, and overnight Neeson became a man in mourning. In 2011, he described how he initially tried to distract himself with work, but the pain always caught up with him:

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. It hits you in the middle of the night -- well, it hits me in the middle of the night.

In The Grey, Neeson plays John Ottway, a widower who takes a dangerous job with an oil company protecting Alaska pipeline workers from wolves and bears. It seems like an occupation that's less about his desire to hunt the animals, and more about his disregard for his own life since his wife's death. However, he's thrown into survival mode and forced to confront his inner demons when his plane crashes and the survivors are left to fend for themselves in the freezing Alaska, wolf-filled wilderness.

Of his character's fortitude, Neeson said,

I've seen the film twice now and what I like about my guy is that he knows that he's looking into the abyss but he keeps putting one foot in front of the other. He's not curling up like a fetus. There's hope or, at least, there's determination.

It sounds to me like Neeson poured a lot into this role, and I'm not just talking about being exposed to the non-CGI blizzards they filmed in. The film's director, Joe Carnahan, seems to agree:

The tragedies we go through in life, whatever they do to alter our being, that's just naturally brought to bear on everything that comes after. If you're in touch with that or in tune with who you are — creatively, artistically — it becomes part of your expression. For a creative person, it's there in their work and their choices, if they can be honest about it. Liam is nothing if not brutally, brilliantly sincere and honest.

Here's a trailer for The Grey, which opens in theaters this weekend:

I can't wait to see it, how about you?

Image via IMDB

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