Neeson sparks race row over rape comments

Liam NeesonImage copyright

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Liam Neeson said he wanted revenge after his friend was raped

Liam Neeson has sparked a race row after making comments about once wanting to kill a black person.

He says he walked the streets with a weapon, hoping to kill someone as revenge after someone close to him was raped by a black man.

The actor, who was promoting his new film Cold Pursuit, told the Independent that “there’s something primal” when you become angry.

The BBC has contacted Liam Neeson’s representatives for comment.

In the interview, he said: “God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions. I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

Neeson said the alleged rape took place a long time ago and he found out about it when he came back from a trip abroad. The actor went on to use racially offensive language about the attacker.

He said: “She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way.

“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.

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Neeson alongside Tom Bateman in Cold Pursuit

“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 [uses air quotes with fingers] ‘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, whose new film sees him star as a snowplough driver seeking revenge against drug dealers he thinks killed his son, has been subject to a lot of criticism on social media over the interview for what has been seen as racially charged comments.

Javon Johnson said on Twitter that the comments were “violently discarding black folks” but were also “haunted by patriarchy” because “he turned his friend’s sexual assault into a platform for his own need to prove his male dominance.”

Julia Craven added: “So Liam Neeson’s response to a loved one being raped was to: 1. Ask the race of the assailant, which tells us his racism was deep rooted before the assault. 2. Roam through (presumably) black neighbourhoods in hopes of provoking a black person so that he could murder them.”

Neeson referred back to his comments later in the interview, adding: “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. But I did learn a lesson from it.”

The 66-year-old, who is best known for Schindler’s List and the thriller series Taken, also described growing up in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles.

“I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and 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,” he added.

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