Is Liam Neeson Actually Worth Defending?
Some stars have come to Neeson's defense following his admission that he once wanted to kill a Black man to avenge a friend who was assaulted.
What was supposed to be a press tour for action thriller Cold Pursuit has become an apology tour for actor Liam Neeson.
During a recent press tour interview, the actor shared a horrifying anecdote about his past. Relating the film's revenge plot to his personal experience, Neeson jaw-droppingly admitted he once wanted to murder a "Black bastard" to avenge a friend who was sexually assaulted by a Black man.
"I’ll tell you a story. This is true," Neeson told the Independent's Clémence Michallon.
"She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way," he said." But my immediate reaction was, I asked, did she know who it was? No. What color 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 [air quotes] Black bastard would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."
Neeson went on to admit it took him a week or two to snap himself out of the dangerous impulse. After the shocking revelation, the star acknowledged 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."
"It’s awful," he continued. "But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, 'What the fuck are you doing,' you know?"
He also shared that he grew up in a place where violence is rampant and explained how that could've played a role in his problematic thinking.
“I come from a society — I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles — and, you know, I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles," the actor said. "I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that. All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. But that primal need, I understand.”
It didn't take long for the interview to make the rounds, and it was was met with so much backlash that the Cold Pursuit red carpet premiere was nixed.
This isn't surprising. After all, an A-list actor — one who's looked up to by millions of fans — admitted he traveled to a predominantly Black area in hopes of attacking an innocent man.
For damage control, Neeson made an appearance on Good Morning America and gave a statement about his comments.
"It really shocked me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me and it hurt me. I did seek help. I went to a priest, I bared my confession," he said. He also dished that (I kid you not) "power walking" helped him alleviate his pent up aggression. But what he really wanted to point out was that he's not the man he was 40 years ago.
"I'm not a racist," he said.
Instead, he claimed what he felt was a "primal urge to lash out."
Listen, Neeson, if you really want to show the world how much you've changed, you have to call that "primal urge" what it was: racism. You planned an attack on an innocent person because of the color of his skin. You were willing to carry out a crime based on skin color. Isn't that the definition of racism? You can't grow as a person if you can't admit what you did — or almost did — was racist.
Interestingly, celebrities like Terry Crews and John Barnes tried to justify Neeson's confession. Barnes said he should be "applauded" for airing out his past, while Crews pointed out it was "a fork in the road" for the Taken actor.
“I believe that every person on earth is capable of the greatest good, or unspeakable evil," the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor tweeted. "Liam is just describing his fork in the road.”
Some fans echoed Crews' sentiment and claimed Neeson was brave for admitting something so abominable.
Is he brave? Maybe so. Does he deserve a round of applause for confessing to being racist? No way!
Heck, he doesn't even deserve a pat on the back. When and if he admits what he did was racist instead of an "urge," then fine. We'll talk.