Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

New York film premiere cancelled over Liam Neeson revenge remarks

The actor appeared on Good Morning America after being criticised for his comments

The actor made a startling admission in an interview to promote his new film. Reuters
The actor made a startling admission in an interview to promote his new film. Reuters

The red carpet New York premiere of Liam Neeson's latest film has been cancelled following comments the actor made that he had wanted to kill a black man in response to the rape of a friend who said her attacker was black.

The 66-year-old star denied being a racist on Tuesday after making the disclosure in an interview published on Monday. The premiere for Cold Pursuit was cancelled just two hours before it was due to open.

Responding to the backlash his comments had drawn, the Irish actor told the US television network ABC's Good Morning America: "I'm not a racist."

Neeson said he had learnt that society needed to have a larger discussion to end racism and bigotry.

On Monday, the actor told UK newspaper The Independent that he related to characters in his movies such as Taken who had sought revenge when someone close to them is hurt, claiming a female friend told him decades ago that she had been raped by a man who was black.

Neeson told the newspaper he had spent "maybe a week" walking near pubs with a heavy stick and "hoping some 'black [expletive]' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could … kill him."

The Independent said Neeson put air quotes around the term "black [expletive]" and posted audio from the interview online.

Neeson told GMA that he had felt a "primal urge to lash out" at the time.

"I went out deliberately into black areas in the city, looking to be set upon," he said. "It shocked me and it hurt me … I did seek help, I went to a priest."

Neeson said no violence occurred. He said he would have been looking for a white man if his friend had identified her attacker as white.

"It was horrible, horrible when I think back, that I did that," Neeson said on GMA.

"It's awful, but I did learn a lesson from it."

Updated: February 6, 2019 11:44 AM