Taken and Batman Begins star Liam Neeson has issued a new apology over comments made in a February interview with The Independent, where he admitted he once spent a week prowling the streets of Ireland hoping to bait a black man into a fight to avenge a friend who was raped. Neeson, who was promoting revenge tale Cold Pursuit at the time, first issued an apology on Good Morning America, where he told host Robin Roberts he’s “not racist” and that he was “shocked” and “hurt” by his “primal urge to lash out.”
Now, weeks later, Neeson has issued a new apology (via Deadline):
Over the last several weeks, I have reflected on and spoken to a variety of people who were hurt by my impulsive recounting of a brutal rape of a dear female friend nearly 40 years ago and my unacceptable thoughts and actions at that time in response to this crime. The horror of what happened to my friend ignited irrational thoughts that do not represent the person I am. In trying to explain those feelings today, I missed the point and hurt many people at a time when language is so often weaponized and an entire community of innocent people are targeted in acts of rage. What I failed to realize is that this is not about justifying my anger all those years ago, it is also about the impact my words have today. I was wrong to do what I did. I recognize that, although the comments I made do not reflect, in any way, my true feelings nor me, they were hurtful and divisive. I profoundly apologize.
Neeson was swiftly criticized for the Independent piece, where he said he walked the streets “with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody” after the female friend told him she was raped by a black man.
“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,” Neeson said, adding it took him more than a week to “go through that.”
In that same interview, Neeson acknowledged his actions were “horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that.” Neeson eventually realized his reaction was “awful,” telling Independent, “When I eventually thought, ‘What the f— are you doing?’”
“I come from a society — I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles — and, you know, 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,” he said. “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.”
Cold Pursuit, released amid the controversy, opened to $10.8 million, giving the action star one of his worst opening weekends.
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