Cold Pursuit star Liam Neeson has spoken out to clarify that he is "not a racist" after controversy erupted over remarks he made in a recent interview. Neeson became a trending topic on Twitter Monday when The Independent published a story in which the star admitted that, decades ago as a young man, he sought to gain revenge for the rape of a friend by hunting down and killing a "black bastard" after the friend described their assailant as being black.
Once known for acclaimed performances in prestige films like Schindler's List, Neeson has in recent years become an unlikely action movie star thanks in large part to his revenge movie series Taken. Currently, Neeson is out promoting his latest action film Cold Pursuit, which again sees the star out for vengeance. But the promotional tour for Cold Pursuit went off the rails after Neeson's shocking admission to The Independent that in real life he once went out for revenge specifically against a black person.
Social media understandably lit up with outrage after Neeson's stunning remarks. Amid the ongoing backlash, Neeson appeared Tuesday on Good Morning America to clarify that he is not a racist. Speaking to Robin Roberts, Neeson attempted to expand upon his original admission, insisting that even at the time he realized how wrong his actions were and that he finally sought help for the urges was experiencing. See video of the interview below:
"I'm not a racist."— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 5, 2019
Actor Liam Neeson addresses the controversial headlines surrounding a decades-old incident centering around rage, revenge and race with @RobinRoberts this morning on @GMA.
Watch the FULL interview HERE: https://t.co/MPgIRwyY9d pic.twitter.com/bmAZtyux2U
While specifically addressing the event 40 years ago that he recounted in the original interview, Neeson said to Roberts: "I went out deliberately into black areas in the city, looking to be set upon so I could unleash physical violence. I did it maybe four or five times. It shocked me and it hurt me.... I did seek help, I went to a priest." Neeson also insisted that he only targeted black people because his friend who was raped described their assailant as being black. As Neeson explained:
"I was trying to show honor, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion. I am a fairly intelligent guy and that's why it kind of shocked me when I came down to Earth after having these horrible feelings."
When asked by Roberts point-blank whether he would've murdered a black person had his plan to provoke a fight actually succeeded, the actor bluntly replied, "Yes."
It remains to be seen whether Neeson's attempts to explain himself will lessen the backlash against him on social media and elsewhere. It will be interesting to see too if the controversy unleashed by Neeson's remarks will have any effect on the box office for Cold Pursuit when it releases this weekend. Such controversies have in the past been known to impact box office for movies, the most notable example coming in 2005 when Tom Cruise's bizarre couch-jumping episode on Oprah was blamed for hurting the grosses for War of the Worlds.
It will also be worth watching to see if Neeson loses any work as a result of the controversy. After Cold Pursuit, the actor is next set to appear in Men in Black: International, and has also been cast in the political thriller Charlie Johnson in the Flames.
Source: Good Morning America
- Cold Pursuit (2019) release date: Feb 08, 2019