Liam Neeson faces backlash after admitting he wanted to 'kill' a black man after a friend's rape

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Fans are both angered and confused by comments Liam Neeson has made about race in a new interview.

While promoting his upcoming thriller, Cold Pursuit, in which he plays a man seeking revenge against drug dealers he thinks killed his son, the Irish actor revealed to a reporter at a press junket that he once sought revenge himself. He then detailed how, after a woman he knew was raped, he asked her the race of the alleged perpetrator, and then, for a week, walked the streets, armed with a weapon, in hopes that he could “kill” a “black bastard” in retaliation.

Neeson, 66, made the admission while talking about how his character turns to anger and said there’s “something primal” about that reaction when “you’ve … had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he told U.K. outlet the Independent. He went on to say that years back, he returned from overseas and learned of the woman’s sexual assault. And while the person, who he didn’t identify, handled the situation in an “extraordinary way,” his reaction was, “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What color were they? She said it was a black person.”

So Neeson went on to say he “went up and down areas with a cosh [a thick, heavy stick used as a weapon] hoping I’d be approached by somebody — 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,” he paused, “kill him.” He went on to admit, “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.”

His co-star in the film, Tom Bateman, was with him during the interview and reacted by saying, “Holy s***,” to which Neeson replied, “It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f*** are you doing,’ you know?”

Neeson’s comments were immediately called out as racist on Twitter.

Many talked about his racist reaction to the situation — asking for just the alleged perpetrator’s skin color.

Many felt there was no lesson to be learned from what he said.

For many, this story is another example of the mistreatment of the black community.

One commenter referenced the story of Emmett Till. He was a 14-year-old African-American boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store.

There was also a lot of confusion as to why Neeson would tell this story in the first place.

Either way, there are many calls for his cancellation.

A rep for Neeson has not yet responded to our request for comment. We will update this story if he does.

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