Liam Neeson interview: Actor says he went power walking to get over 'hurt' of wanting to kill black man
Actor denied he is racist during interview with Good Morning America
Liam Neeson said he sought help after an incident where he roamed the streets armed with a cosh for a week, wanting to kill a “black bastard”, after someone close to him was raped.
The actor, who was accused of racism after his story was published in an interview with The Independent, appeared on Good Morning America where he said he spoke to a priest, to friends, and went power walking after he became shocked by his behaviour.
“It really shocked me, this primal urge I had,” he said. “I did seek help, I went to a priest. There were two very good friends I talked to. And believe it or not, power walking.”
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“I’m not racist,” he continued. ”I was brought up in the north of Ireland. The Troubles. The Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. There was a war going on in the north of Ireland. I had accquaintances who were involved in the trouble. The bigotry. One Catholic would be killed, the next day a protestant would be killed. I grew up surrounded by that, but I was never part of it.”
Speaking to The Independent, the Taken actor recalled being told about the rape after he returned from a trip overseas.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said. “But my immediate reaction was... did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.
“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody. I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week – hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
Neeson said it took him about a week or a week and a half to process what had happened.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he said. “It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing’, you know?
Neeson shared the personal story after being asked to give more insight into his Cold Pursuit character Nels Coxman’s need for revenge after his son is killed by a drug gang.
Following the interview’s publication, there was outrage online, with social media users accusing Neeson of racism.
American film producer Tariq Nasheed said: “Keep in mind that Liam Neeson didn’t say he just has some ‘revenge fantasy’. He actually went out for a week LOOKING for a black person to kill, but he couldn’t find one.”
One Twitter user wrote: “Liam Neeson being ready to take any black life over what one person allegedly did just shows how meaningless and inconsequential black lives are to some.
“Even him telling the story demonstrates a level of privilege and understanding that there may not be repercussions.”
Actor Terry Crews, former American football player who stars in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, wrote on social media: “Reminds me of a time I got provoked by a rich white guy I didn’t know. Hoping I would do something.”