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Beloved actor Liam Neeson is taking heat from fans and the internet at large after a bizarre interview with U.K. publication The Independent.
In the interview, Neeson talked about his upcoming movie Cold Pursuit, and how he understood the motivation of his leading character, who is avenging the murder of his son. (Neeson has also famously starred in the movie franchise Taken, where he’s on the hunt for his kidnapped daughter, and many other revenge thrillers.)
Neeson, 66, tapped into his character’s desire for payback by recalling old emotions he has apparently had since a friend of his was allegedly raped by a “black person” many years ago.
“God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he said, before retelling the story of when he discovered a female friend had been raped.
“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,” he described. “I went up and down areas with a cosh [a stick or bar used for bludgeoning], hoping I’d be approached by somebody — I’m ashamed to say that — and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some black bastard would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could … kill him.”
Looking back, Neeson claims, he’s ashamed that he ever thought along those lines, and said he’s learned a “lesson.”
“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,” he continued, his voice reportedly “trembling.”
“But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f**k are you doing?’”
Neeson never revealed the name of the alleged rape victim. Independent interviewer Clémence Michallon requested a follow-up interview with Neeson to elaborate further on the story, but the Oscar-nominated actor declined.
“As Neeson said, the story has now been told for the first time,” she wrote at the end of her article. “Perhaps that’s enough.”
The publication posted a companion op-ed piece concurrently to help provide context to Neeson’s story and analyze what it means to society at large.
Fans took to Twitter to chide the actor, and some made jokes about the end of Neeson’s career.
As of this writing, Neeson hasn’t spoken publicly about the interview or his comments.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
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