Liam Neeson has sparked outrage after admitting he went hunting for a “black b******d” to kill after finding out a family member had been raped.
The Taken and Love Actually star, 66, made the shocking admission to the UK’s Independent during a press junket for his new film Cold Pursuit.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said. “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.
“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 [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black b******’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
A cosh is a thick, heavy stick or bar used as a weapon.
While admitting his reaction was “awful”, Neeson revealed that it took him more than a week to calm down.
“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. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f*** are you doing’, you know?”
The article has sparked a fierce backlash online, with Neeson slammed as a “racist”, while the journalist behind it has been criticised for providing psychological context to the actor’s reaction.
During the interview, Neeson added that he now understood the dangers of seeking revenge.
“I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing.”
The actor’s story about revenge was raised amid conversations about his Cold Pursuit character, Nels Coxman, who goes on a journey to kill the drug dealers he believes murdered his son.
Weighing in on the issues surrounding on-screen violence, Neeson denied that it inspires people to mimic bad behaviour.
“I think audience members live to see that (violence),” he said.
“They can kind of live vicariously through it. People say, ‘Yeah but violence in films makes people want to go out and kill people.’ I don’t believe that at all. I think the average moviegoer thinks, ‘Yeah, punch him. Punch him.’ And they get a satisfaction out of seeing somebody else enact it, and they leave the theatre and they feel satiated in some way.”