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The 66-year-old Oscar-nominated actor revealed in an interview (doing promotion for the upcoming Cold Pursuit) with The Independent that he, 40 years ago, wanted to “unleash physical violence” against a random African-American man after a close friend revealed she had been brutally raped.
His comments sparked outrage, especially in the African-American community.
“I’m not a racist,” Neeson told GMA‘s Robin Roberts. He went on to say he felt a “primal urge to lash out” before he knew anything whatsoever about her attacker. The friend told him the unknown assailant was black.
“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,” the actor told Roberts. “It shocked me and it hurt me…. I did seek help, I went to a priest.” He also said exercise, specifically power-walking helped.
Neeson made it clear the man’s race had no bearing on his reaction, he would have gone after whomever (race-wise) his friend described.
“I was trying to show honor, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion,” Neeson told Roberts. “I am a fairly intelligent guy and that’s why it kind of shocked me when I came down to Earth after having these horrible feelings.”
Asked by Roberts if he would have really gone through with violence, maybe murder if a black man — who had nothing to do with his friend — provoked him, Neeson replied, “yes.”
Neeson said he hoped the matter could be turned into a teachable moment and that broader conversations could take place to stamp out true racism and bigotry.
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James Gordon Meek