Micheál Richardson and his dad Liam Neeson star in the new drama Made in Italy


Micheál Richardson, 25, says making the drama, Made in Italy, with his father Liam Neeson, 68, was a cathartic experience 11 years after his mother, Natasha Richardson's death.

The father-son duo star in Made in Italy, which tells the story of how a father and son bond after the death of the family matriarch.

The topic hits close to home for the two men. Natasha died at 45 in 2009 from an epidural hematoma after hitting her head while skiing in Quebec.

“When you lose somebody so close to you, sometimes you just push it away and out of your head because the thought of them hurts,” Micheál tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.“But I found that’s an unhealthy thing to do. You have to remember them."

  • For more on Micheál Richardson, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson
Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson in Made in Italy
| Credit: IFC Films
made in italy
Richardson and Neeson in Made in Italy

One way the young actor (whose Irish first name is pronounced ME-hall) honored his mother was by taking her last name two years ago.

“It was a way to honor her and her side of the family and carry on the name,” he says. 

Micheál says he loved the opportunity to work alongside his father and the chance to spend more time with him.

“Recently, I’m seeing him as less of a dad and more as a close friend,” he says. “A lot of people think he’s quite intimidating because he’s done all of these action thrillers, but he is just a big, lovable Irish bear. He’s a charmer."

natasha richardson and sons
Micheál Richardson, Natasha Richardson and Daniel Neeson
| Credit: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Micheál adds that becoming an actor has helped him feel closer to his mother.

“Now that I’m on this journey that she had gone through herself, I feel like she’s with me," he says.  "I feel closer."

Made in Italy is available On Demand and in select theaters this Friday.