Liam Neeson calls Jimmy Kimmel racist for Irish jokes at Oscars

The Taken star said jokes linking Irish people to fighting and drinking were racist.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: Liam Neeson arrives at the UK premiere of
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Liam Neeson has said Jimmy Kimmel's jokes about Irish people at the Oscars were "racist".

The US comedian hosted the 2023 Academy Awards ceremony where An Irish Goodbye won best live action short film and several Irish actors including Colin Farrell, Paul Mescal and Brendan Gleeson were nominated.

The Taken star - who is Northern Irish - did not attend the award but was asked by The Times what he thought of Kimmel's jokes.

Read more: Liam Neeson was not a fan of his iconic Taken speech

Neeson, 70, said: "I heard he was being a bit racist. Jokes about Irish fighting, drinking and all that. I don’t know what to say.”

Watch: Jimmy Kimmel's Irish joke in his Oscars opening monologue

During his opening monologue at the Oscars ceremony, Kimmel said: "It's been some year for diversity and inclusion. We have nominees from every corner of Dublin. Five Irish actors are nominated tonight, which means the odds of another fight on stage just went way up."

The screen cut to The Banshees of Inisherin stars Farrell and Gleeson who brandished their fists jokingly at the cameras.

Farrell, Gleeson and Barry Keoghan, were born in Dublin but co-star Kerry Condon is from Tipperary and Aftersun star Mescal is from County Kildare.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 95th Annual Academy Awards and made jokes about the Irish. (Getty Images)

Later Kimmel cut short Irish animator Richie Baneham during his acceptance speech for the best visual effects Oscar for Avatar: The Way of Water to make a joke about the Irish accent being hard to understand.

Kimmel told Irish actor Farrell he had a letter 'from a fan' asking what he was saying during The Banshees of Inisherin.

Farrell hit back: “I’d like him to go on YouTube and check out the SNL skit from last night.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) Colin Farrell, Kerry Condon, and Brendan Gleeson attend the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on February 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/FilmMagic)
Irish stars Colin Farrell, Kerry Condon, and Brendan Gleeson at the Oscars 2023. (Getty Images)

He was referring to a Saturday Night Live sketch that had depicted Farrell and co-star Gleeson's accents as unintelligible with an SNL host exclaiming: “Wow! They haven’t even started drinking yet.”

Viewers of the Oscars had expressed their displeasure on social media about the offensive stereotyping of Irish people by Kimmel.

One said: "Jimmy Kimmel… unfunny and anti-Irish. Not sure which is worse."

Ross White, James Martin, Tom Berkeley, and Seamus O'Hara accept the Best Live Action Short Film award for
An Irish Goodbye's Ross White, James Martin, Tom Berkeley, and Seamus O'Hara accept the Best Live Action Short Film at the 95th Annual Academy Awards. (Getty Images)

Another tweeted: "That Irish actors joke was so unnecessary, ready for Jimmy Kimmel to not host next year!"

Read more: Liam Neeson on being an action star aged 70

And another commented: "The anti-Irish sentiment from Jimmy Kimmel… we’re really doing this in 2023 huh."