Liam Neeson revealed a shockingly racist incident in an interview about his new film, “Cold Pursuit,” saying that years ago, after he found out a friend was raped, he cased the streets for a week hoping to kill any “black bastard” who crossed him.
The 66-year-old actor was talking with The Independent about how he got into character for his new role, and he recalled an apparent rape of someone close to him from “some time ago,” according to the news site.
He said he immediately wanted to know “what color” the perpetrator was. His anger boiled over, he said, and he spent a week carrying a baton and hoping that a random “black bastard” would antagonize him so he could “kill him.” He said he now feels ashamed about it.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was …” There’s a pause. “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 bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”
His co-star Tom Bateman reportedly responded, “Holy shit.”
Liam Neeson through the years
Liam Neeson through the years
Irish actor Liam Neeson, circa 1987. (Photo by Nancy R. Schiff/Getty Images)
Liam Neeson up against a brick wall with fear in a scene from the film 'Darkman', 1990. (Photo by Universal Pictures/Getty Images)
Actor Liam Neeson on a courtroom scene from the thriller 'Under Suspicion', 1991. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)
Actress Natasha Richardson (L) and actor Liam Neeson arrive at the Tony Awards in New York June 6, 1993. Richardson was nominated for the award for leading actress in "Anna Christie" and Neeson for leading actor in the same play. REUTERS/Peter Morgan(UNITED STATES ENTERTAINMENT OBITUARY)
ARGENTINA - AUGUST 01: ****EXCLUSIVE**** Actor Liam Neeson as O - Schindler in S.Spielberg's film in Argentina on August 01, 1993. (Photo by Rafael WOLLMANN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
October 1995. (Photo by Thomas & Thomas/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
The director and stars of the new Warner Bros. film "Michael Collins" pose together at the film's premiere October 8 in Beverly Hills. Shown (L-R) are director Neil Jordan, and actors Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn. The film tells the real life story of Irish patriot Michael Collins, portrayed by Neeson, and his efforts to create a free and peaceful country.
Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson poses for photographs after receiving
his Order for the Britsh Empire (OBE) presented to him by Britain's
Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, in London, October 29, 2002.
Neeson has starred in movies such as Star Wars and Schindler's List.
Actor Liam Neeson and his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, pose for photographers as they arrive at the 30th annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards dinner in Los Angeles January 13, 2005. Neeson won the association's best actor award for his role in the film "Kinsey" in which he portrayed sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey REUTERS/Fred Prouser FSP
Irish actor Liam Neeson (L) talks to a fan while signing autographs at the red carpet premier of his new film "Breakfast on Pluto" at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 10, 2005. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski JPM/PN
Actress Natasha Richardson looks at her husband Liam Neeson as they arrive for the Conde Nast Traveler's annual readers choice award show in New York City October 16, 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES)
Irish actor Liam Neeson poses for a portrait while promoting the film "Five Minutes of Heaven" at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES)
Actor Liam Neeson arrives for a screening of the film "Five Minutes of Heaven" in New York August 11, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES ENTERTAINMENT)
Cast member Liam Neeson signs autographs at the premiere of "The A-Team" at the Mann's Grauman Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 3, 2010. The movie opens in the U.S. on June 11. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Cast member Liam Neeson poses on the red carpet before at a German preview of "The A-Team" at a cinema in Berlin July 29, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Cast member Liam Neeson arrives for the premiere of the film "The Next Three Days" in New York November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT)
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Neeson’s camp hasn’t yet responded to the Independent article, but some pundits are lambasting him for the comments. Kuba Shand-Baptiste, an opinion writer for The Independent, called out his comments as parroting white supremacists:
What I’m talking about, is a centuries-old idea used to galvanise racists, particularly white men, in order to legitimise their violent treatment of black people. It was the same narrative that saw Emmett Till tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955. And in this country the infamous Nottingham race riots in 1958 have also long been said to have broken out after a black man was seen chatting up a white woman in a pub.
Wrote about THAT Liam Neeson interview, and how deeply the white supremacist trope of the “black brute” appears to have permeated society for @IndyVoiceshttps://t.co/vXmiBGPdHl