An online petition calling for Liam Neeson to be removed from the new Men in Black film is gaining heat. 

The actor faces a huge backlash after telling The Independent he once roamed the streets with a cosh, wanting to kill a “black bastard” after someone close to him was raped years ago.

Following the interview, which was published on Monday, the actor has reportedly cancelled a scheduled appearance on Stephen Colbert’s US talk show to promote his new film Cold Pursuit, the premiere of which was cancelled earlier this week. 

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Neeson insisted he was not racist in a follow-up interview on Good Morning America, but many felt he “made [matters] worse” and are now calling for him to be digitally removed from the forthcoming film, which stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth.

One Twitter user stated that they “hope it’s not too late to digitally erase” Neeson from the film, with a source telling The Sun that: “Mounting pressure on Neeson to be axed won’t go unnoticed.”

Speaking about his interview with The Independent, Neeson said: “We were doing a press junket and the topic of our film was revenge. The lady journalist [Clémence Michallon] was asking, ‘How do you tap into that?’ and I remembered an incident nearly 40 years ago when a friend of mine was brutally raped I was out of the country and when I came back she told me about this.

Liam Neeson: ‘I walked the streets with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by a 'black b**tard' so that I could kill him’

“I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urge to lash out.”

Following the backlash, Whoopi Goldberg jumped to Neeson's defence on The View, saying she believes he’s not racist as she’s “known him a pretty long time” and “would have recognised” his bigotry.

Men in Black: International is released in UK cinemas on 14 June.

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