Liam Neeson is under fire for defending several high-profile men accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct and suggesting that there’s “a bit of a witch-hunt happening.”
Appearing on the Irish talk show The Late Late Show, the action star addressed the recent deluge of sexual misconduct allegations against famous men. “There is a bit of a witch hunt happening, too,” the actor said. “There’s some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something, and suddenly they’re being dropped from their program or something.”
Neeson went on to speak specifically about the allegations against Garrison Keillor and Dustin Hoffman. Keillor was fired in November from Minnesota Public Radio for “inappropriate behavior,” while Hoffman has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Among them is actress Kathryn Rossetter, who alleges Hoffman repeatedly groped her during their 1983 Broadway production of Death of a Salesman.
“The Dustin Hoffman thing, I’m on the fence about that,” Neeson told host Ryan Tubridy. “Because when you’re doing a play and you’re with your family, other actors, technicians, you do silly things. You do silly things and it becomes kind of superstitious; if you don’t do it every night you think it’s going to jinx the show. I think Dustin Hoffman was… I’m not saying I’ve done similar things like what he did. Apparently, he touched another girl’s breast and stuff. But it’s childhood stuff what he was doing.”
Neeson was then cut off by Tubridy, who pointed out that it’s important to have conversations about these issues. Neeson agreed, adding, “There is a movement happening. It’s healthy and it’s across every industry. The focus seems to be on Hollywood at the minute. But it’s across every industry. I’m a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, and a very proud one. And I get sent facts and figures and stuff. And if you read the stuff I’ve read about how female laborers are being treated in farms, ranches, and all the rest of it, it’s chilling.”
The actor’s comments drew criticism on social media:
Disappointed by Liam Neeson’s comments. Reinforcing the idea that inappropriately touching women was the norm and therefore ok. The reference to a ‘witch hunt’ also irked me. #LateLateShow— Dr. Michelle McMahon (@DrMMcMahonEP) January 12, 2018
Liam Neeson on the #LateLate suggesting that Hoffman might simply rub a co-star's breasts in superstition before a performance.— Luke Benson (@Mr_LukeBenson) January 12, 2018
A grope for good luck as it were. 'Childhood stuff'.
Yeah, if there's a line to be drawn Liam, I don't it's there. https://t.co/d5AHH1BPsE
Wow, Liam Neeson is cancelled— Stacy (@SilverStGroud) January 12, 2018
Hi here's Liam Neeson saying it's fine to grab a woman's breasts if it's part of a pre-show superstition. https://t.co/NdfiFnDNZD— Jessica Ellis (@baddestmamajama) January 13, 2018
Don't work with Liam Neeson, ladies. https://t.co/C6Z7LOEjms— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) January 13, 2018
Liam Neeson: witch hunt is a term for false accusations against the vulnerable by the powerful, so it’s not an accurate description of holding privileged men in power accountable for their actions.— Melinda Byerley (@MJB_SF) January 13, 2018
A witch hunt never ends. We just want men to stop abusing their power.