Richardson and Liam Neeson wed in 1994, just before the release of Nell, which garnered costar Jodie Foster an Oscar nomination.
"Natasha was brilliant, beautiful, funny, talented beyond measure, as emotionally raw as she was razor sharp," Foster says. "Tasha loved fiercely and that love continues in all of us who knew her. May Liam, her beautiful boys and her loving family hold her close as they move through this tragic moment."
The entire New York Broadway community will pay respects to their darling Thursday evening by dimming all marquee lights at 8 p.m. for one minute.
Mia Farrow grew so close to her Widows' Peak costar in 1994, she made her the godmother to two of her children.
"Tasha is irreplaceable," Farrow says in a statement. "I cannot think of anyone kinder, more generous, thoughtful, smarter or more fun…The Neesons and Vanessa have always made me feel a part of their wonderful family. My thoughts and prayers are with them."
Mendes, who produced the 1998 revival of Cabaret on Broadway for which Richardson won her Tony, alongside Alan Cumming (who shared his sadness last night), expressed his shock to the BBC. "Natasha combined the best of Redgrave and Richardson—the enormous depth and emotional force of a great actor on the one hand, and the intelligence and objectivity of a great director on the other," he said. "She was one of a kind, a magnificent actress. She was also an amazing mother, a loyal friend, and the greatest and most generous host you could ever hope to meet. It defies belief that this gifted, brave, tenacious, wonderful woman is gone."
"She had an incredibly luminous quality that you seldom see, and a great sense of humor," Dench, with whom Richardson shared the small screen in a 1987 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, told the BBC. "I thought she was a really great actress and seemed to simply shine in both film and theater. It's always difficult if you have parents in theater, it puts a very strange pressure on the children. I have no doubt [great work was to come]. It's been so shocking, really shocking—I hope everyone leaves the family alone to pick up the pieces."
Jane Fonda blogged about meeting Redgrave's young daughter on the set of 1977's Julia. "She was a little girl but already beautiful and graceful," she writes. "It didn't surprise me that she became such a talented actor…It is hard to even imagine what this must be like for her family. My heart is heavy."
Even one of Neeson's former flames, Oscar winner Helen Mirren, expressed her condolences. "Natasha was a great actress, a fantastic mother, a loving wife and a whirlwind of energy, with an infectious love of life expressed firstly by her wonderful deep laugh," she said in a statement. "Anyone who knew her will be in mourning today. I hope that Liam and her sons are helped in their pain by the great love and sympathy that is coming to them from people all over the world."
When Neeson received the call on Monday that his wife was in the hospital near Montreal, he immediately left the set of Chloe, which was filming in Toronto. A statement explains plans to continue shooting scenes that don't involve the Batman Begins actor: "There are some scenes with Liam Neeson which have not been completed, however, we do not feel this is the time to address that matter," it says. "Our concern is for Liam and his family at this difficult time."
Director Atom Egoyan adds, "I had the opportunity to meet Natasha at the opening of the play I did with Liam in New York last year. Her intense pride and affection for her husband was so clear, as was his passion and love for her. I'm so devastated for Liam's loss."
(Originally published March 19, 2009 at 10:34 a.m. PT.)