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UPDATE: Speaking on Good Morning America on Tuesday, Liam Neeson denied any charges of racism after his jaw-dropping interview with British publication The Independent (full details are below, in the original story).
“I’m not racist,” said a straight-faced Neeson to host Robin Roberts.
“If she had said an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian I would — I know I would — have had the same effect,” he said. “I was trying to show honour, to stand up for my dear friend in this terribly medieval fashion.”
“It shocked me and it hurt me,” he continued. “I did seek help.”
He also added that he went power walking to work through his anger, as well as attending confession.
"I'm not a racist."
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 5, 2019
Beloved actor Liam Neeson is taking heat from fans and the internet at large after a bizarre interview with U.K. publication The Independent.
In the interview, Neeson talked about his upcoming movie Cold Pursuit, and how he understood the motivation of his leading character, who is avenging the murder of his son. (Neeson has also famously starred in the movie franchise Taken, where he’s on the hunt for his kidnapped daughter, and many other revenge thrillers.)
Neeson, 66, tapped into his character’s desire for payback by recalling old emotions he has apparently had since a friend of his was allegedly raped by a “black person” many years ago.
“God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he said, before retelling the story of when he discovered a female friend had been raped.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way, but my immediate reaction was … I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person,” he described. “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 black bastard would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could … kill him.”
Looking back, Neeson claims, he’s ashamed that he ever thought along those lines, and said he’s learned a “lesson.”
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he said. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
“It’s awful,” he continued, his voice reportedly “trembling.”
“But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f**k are you doing?'”
Neeson never revealed the name of the alleged rape victim. Independent interviewer Clémence Michallon requested a follow-up interview with Neeson to elaborate further on the story, but the Oscar-nominated actor declined.
“As Neeson said, the story has now been told for the first time,” she wrote at the end of her article. “Perhaps that’s enough.”
The publication posted a companion op-ed piece concurrently to help provide context to Neeson’s story and analyze what it means to society at large.
Fans took to Twitter to chide the actor, and some made jokes about the end of Neeson’s career.
Liam Neeson is definitely a reminder that there are folks who walk around hoping to provoke Black people so they can kill us.
A lot of them are in law enforcement and politics.
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) February 4, 2019
“But my immediate reaction was I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person."
Not how old were they? How tall were they? You just asked what colour were they? I don't care how sorry you are, Liam Neeson, that is disgusting. https://t.co/sCDVTBCBIx
— Hannah Al-Othman (@HannahAlOthman) February 4, 2019
That Liam Neeson interview is just so saddening (and yes, still racist). It reinforces the idea that people of colour, and especially black men, are collectively responsible for the misdeeds of one. And that when a woman is sexually violated, it's a man who is left truly wounded.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) February 4, 2019
Dear Liam Neeson,
Thanks for the down payment.
All the worst,
— it's me death (@deathactually_) February 4, 2019
Liam Neeson’s manager: pic.twitter.com/B8pfSQo8rs
— Tom Reagan’s Hat (@RufusTSuperfly) February 4, 2019
When you see Liam Neeson trending, then you find out why… pic.twitter.com/svP8jY7qDu
— Jacob Davison (@JacobDavison_) February 4, 2019
As of this writing, Neeson hasn’t spoken publicly about the interview or his comments.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
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