With the sudden loss of her formidable presence, grief and awe share space.
Whenever an actor dies unexpectedly in the midst of a fruitful career, it's impossible not to mourn the future possibilities that have been suddenly and cruelly foreclosed. Natasha Richardson, who died Wednesday after suffering a head injury in a skiing accident Monday, was only 45 and should have had more opportunities to show us the range of her talent, which was always surprising. One could say she made a career of overturning expectations about what she could and could not do.

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The daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson, she was born into theatrical royalty but refused to be burdened by her grand heritage. Perhaps this accounts for the incredible daring of her choices.

She was forever tackling roles that made you second-guess your typecasting of her. "Oh come on, you can't do that," were words that I often found myself silently repeating after hearing reports of her upcoming stage plans, and time and again she proved me stupendously wrong.

PHOTOS: Natasha Richardson Through the Years

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