Liam Neeson is facing a devastating backlash over comments he made in an interview published yesterday, during which he admitted seeking racially-charged revenge after a friend was raped.
During a junket for his new movie Cold Pursuit, Neeson revealed to The Independent that he went out carrying a cosh hoping that he’d be ‘approached by somebody’, after finding out the man who committed the crime was black.
“I’m ashamed to say that — and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [gestures air quotes] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could… kill him,” said the 66-year old.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.
“It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f*** are you doing,’ you know?”
The response to the remarks has been one of shell shock, bafflement, condemnation and a smattering, though very much in the minority, of those coming to his defence.
So I guess Liam Neeson just publicly admitted he’s racist, huh pic.twitter.com/r33F7Bzdzr
— trey taylor (@treytylor) February 4, 2019
Liam Neeson is today’s example of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) February 4, 2019
Reporter- It’s a pleasure to meet…
Liam Neeson- I HAD THE KNIFE AND JUST WANTED TO KILL ANY BLACK PERSON FOR BEING BLACK!
Reporter- *throws out all questions* Go on.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) February 4, 2019
Before we cancel Liam Neeson: Whomst among us hasn't armed themselves for a violent hate crime, I ask you
Let he who has not spent a week pacing the streets plotting to murder the first Black man he sees cast the first stone
— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) February 4, 2019
Truly disturbing Liam Neeson set out to murder a Black person. Discussing on @GMB in a mo how blaming an entire group for the alleged crime of an individual is obscene racism. Who wants to watch his films now? Racists
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) February 5, 2019
This saddens me on so many levels. Least of all because I love Liam Neeson’s body of work. There is good and bad in every colour. When will we get to a place where people are judged on their character and not the colour of their skin? https://t.co/lxQaZSCB3l
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) February 5, 2019
It’s terrible that Liam Neeson thought about committing a hate crime. However, it should be noted, Mark Wahlberg ACTUALLY committed hate crimes.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) February 4, 2019
On Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan blasted the actor, suggesting that it could cause irreparable damage to his career.
“I don’t know what’s possessed Liam Neeson to tell this story. When you hear him say this, I think there will be genuine, fully justified outrage over what he’s said,” he said.
“The only parallel I can think of is Mel Gibson who said some horrendous things to his Russian girlfriend or wife at the time. He was very racist when he said it.
‘I can’t think of anything more staggering that’s come out of a movie star’s mouth. I would be very surprised if Liam Neeson’s career is not now in very serious trouble. If I was a black person, I would not want to see this guy’s movies. So racist. It’s like Ku Klux Klan stuff.”
There has been some defence of Neeson, writer Eric D. Snider tweeting:
Liam Neeson had a terrible impulse that he didn't act on, that he knows was terrible, and that he learned from. If we're going to cancel people for being TEMPTED to do wrong, or for struggling with something before coming to the right conclusion … well, we're going to be busy.
— Eric D. Snider (@EricDSnider) February 4, 2019
However, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson hit back at the claim, replying:
No, he did act on it. He acted on the terrible impulse to connect the rape to any other black man. https://t.co/4gKQ2S202O
— N O S ⋊ Ɔ I ᴚ ᴚ Ǝ ᗡ ⊥ ⊥ O Ɔ S (@scottderrickson) February 4, 2019
Neeson is yet to make a statement on the remarks.