Liam Neeson has had to defend himself against the racist remarks he made in an interview in The Independent, which was released yesterday.
The Cold Pursuit actor spoke of roaming the streets with a cosh, hoping to murder a "black bastard" after a woman close to him was raped years ago.
Speaking on Good Morning America, he said; "I’m not racist, this was 40 years ago. I was brought up in the north of Ireland. The Troubles. The Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. There was a war going on in the north of Ireland."
"I had acquaintances who were involved in the trouble. The bigotry. One Catholic would be killed, the next day a protestant would be killed. I grew up surrounded by that, but I was never surrounded by it," he said.
The original article featured the Taken actor recalling being told about a friend's rape after he returned from a trip overseas.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said. “But my immediate reaction was… 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 kill him.”
Neeson claimed it took him at least a week to process the incident, and anger was his first instinct.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he said. “It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f*ck are you doing’, you know?"
The actor brought up the personal anecdote after being asked to give more insight into his Cold Pursuit character Nels Coxman, who seeks revenge after his son is killed by a drug gang.
The internet went into a meltdown after the interview was published, with the majority of social media users accusing him of racism.
One Twitter user wrote: “Liam Neeson being ready to take any black life over what one person allegedly did just shows how meaningless and inconsequential black lives are to some."
They continued; “Even him telling the story demonstrates a level of privilege and understanding that there may not be repercussions.”
Actor Terry Crews, who is the host of America's Got Talent and star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, wrote on social media:
"Reminds me of a time I got provoked by a rich white guy I didn’t know. Hoping I would do something." He has been an advocate for domestic violence and sexual violence victims.
RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy chose to defend Liam Neeson today, saying that the actor didn't mean any harm;
"I don’t think for one minute that Liam Neeson ever wanted to kill anybody, or would ever harm anyone, or really actually meant it at all. ‘However, “you just can’t say that kind of thing” is what I suspect is going to be the response to that."
"Having met him several times, it’s the sort of thing that he might have said over a coffee to somebody privately, but he kind of let it out into the public and that poses a serious problem for him, I suspect, in Hollywood particularly, with all the sensitivities you’d expect and that are rightly there. It’s a conundrum for him."
Former England footballer has also defended the star, calling out other heroes in society who were less than angelic when it came to race (Hi, Winston Churchill) and praising his admission of guilt.
Piers Morgan has branded him a member of the KKK, so he must be in pretty scalding water right now.
What are your thoughts on the debate; Is he shining an important light on the racist instincts present in society, specifically straight, white men? Or is he cancelled? The jury's still out.
Feature image: ABC7.com