Steve McQueen was “disturbed” and “upset” by Liam Neeson‘s admission that he once roaming the streets with a cosh, looking for a “black bastard” to kill after the rape of a close friend.

The pair worked together on the 2018 film Widows, which was directed by McQueen and starred Neeson alongside Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McQueen – whose film 12 Years A Slave won best picture at the 2012 Oscars – said: “My reaction was I was disturbed, I was upset and finally I was just disappointed.”

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Questioned about whether he had told the Taken actor, the director said: ”Well, he knows now... You never know what’s in people’s minds. You just never know.”

Neeson, who made the shocking admission in an interview with The Independent, said that he was compelled by a “primal” urge to go seeking revenge.

Asked about whether the feeling was “really primeval” or a “learned behaviour”, McQueen replied: “I just find racism very funny and very stupid and very silly.

“It’s absurd. I don’t even know how to answer that question, if you have to get stupid to answer that question I would rather keep my intelligence if possible.”

McQueen also addressed those who have defended Neeson, saying: “Can you identify a racist by looking at them? Neither can I.”

Neeson has previously insisted he is not racist, saying his behaviour was a result of wanting to show “honour” after someone close to him had been assaulted.

:: Read the original, exclusive interview that started a global conversation

Others to have criticised Neeson include Regina King, who told The Independent that the incident changed how she thought of the Taken actor.

Ellen Page also spoke to The Independent about Neeson, calling the actor “just so f***ing racist”. 

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