“When Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson met on the set of a Broadway play, the chemistry between them was so apparent the production became the hit of the season,” the The Independent‘s Ian Johnston begins his hail and farewell piece about Richardson, who died yesterday at age 45.

The following anecdote has been, for me, the best passage of all the obits because it reveals a bit of who Richardson really was deep down, and how she expressed herself when it came to matters of intimacy — i.e., straight from the shoulder.

“Neeson had a reputation as a bit of a Lothario after relationships with Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, Brooke Shields, Sinead O’Connor and Barbra Streisand,” Johnston writes, “and his encounter with Richardson in Eugene O’Neill‘s Anna Christie in New York in 1993 could have ended in just another name on his list.

“But Richardson, the daughter of the director Tony Richardson and the actress Vanessa Redgrave, ensured that their relationship blossomed into one of Hollywood’s most loving.

“She kept ringing Neeson until he agreed to take the part in the play, even though he knew he was in the running for the lead in Schindler’s List. When the play’s run ended, he had to leave immediately to film in Poland.

“On Richardson’s birthday, he sent her a last-minute fax message from Poland that was flippantly signed ‘lots of love, Oskar’ — i.e., his character’s name. Richardson responded with typical directness: ‘This is like a letter from a buddy. What is our relationship?’

“Forced to make a decision, Neeson realized where his heart lay. And Richardson, effectively deciding to leave her then husband, the director Robert Fox, flew to Poland to join him.

“The gossip columns had a field day, but Richardson said they jumped the gun. ‘When everyone assumed it, we actually weren’t at that point,” she recalled. ‘We fell in love later. Well, he certainly fell in love with me later.’

“The couple married in 1994 and their son Micheal was born the next year, followed by Daniel in 1996.

“‘What turns me on about a woman,’ Neeson once said, ‘is if she’s an individual or has some talent. If she has both she’s worth remembering.'”