Actor Liam Neeson spoke out on Good Morning America on Tuesday to address his comments on how he reacted after a black man raped one of his good friends.
Neeson’s alarming comments were made during an interview with Britain’s The Independent.
“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody,” he told the outlet. “I’m ashamed to say that — and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘black b*****d’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could… kill him.”
Neeson explained his controversial comments on GMA with Robin Roberts.
He began, “I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so I could unleash physical violence. I did it maybe four or five times until I caught myself, and it really shocked me — this primal urge I had. I shocked me and it hurt me.”
Neeson said he “did seek help” and “went to a priest and had my confession.”
He said that “power walking” helped him get through his anger.
“I’m not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago, and because I was brought up in the North of Ireland and brought up in the Troubles, the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s, there was a war going on in the North of Ireland, and I had acquaintances who were involved in the Troubles, the bigotry. One Catholic would be killed, the next day a Protestant would be killed. One Catholic pub would be bombed and then a Protestant pub bombed. I grew up around that, but was never part of it.”
Roberts asked Neeson if his reaction would have been the same if the person was a white guy.
“Oh, definitely,” Neeson replied. “If she said Irish, Scott, a Brit, I know I would have the same effect. I was trying to show honor to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion. I’m a fairly intelligent guy, that’s why it kind of shocked me, and then I came down to Earth after having these horrible feelings. Luckily, no violence occurred ever. Thank god.”
Roberts then asked, “Do you think you actually would have done it if an innocent black man didn’t do anything wrong?”
Neeson responded, “Yes. Yes. That was my feeling. I did want to lash out. Yes. Because my friend was brutally raped and I thought I was defending her honor. And I admit that. It’s a learning curve.”
“To talk about these things. We all pretend we are politically correct. In this country, sometimes you just scratch the surface and discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there,” he told Roberts. “I remember when shooting Schindler’s List in Poland 26 years ago and hearing remarks from drivers who were taking us to the set, thinking to myself, ‘Am I hearing this right? This guy is making anti-Jewish comments to me, who is playing Oscar Schindler in the back of a car?’ and it happened several times.”