Liam Neeson has apologised “profoundly” for his infamous admission in February that many years ago he roamed the streets hoping to kill a black man to avenge the rape of a friend.
Nearly two months after Neeson’s comments ran in the UK’s The Independent and triggered a social media firestorm, the actor issued a statement once again addressing the incident.
“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,” Neeson said in a statement on Friday (29).
“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.”
In the original interview Neeson, promoting the revenge drama Cold Pursuit, explained how he understood his character’s “primal need” for revenge after he experienced the same feelings may years before when he returned from a trip and an unidentified friend told him she had been raped.
Neeson said his immediate reaction had been to ask the woman if she knew the identity of the alleged assailant. When she said no, he asked about the person’s colour and she replied it was a black person. Neeson then said he went out in the streets for “a week, maybe a week and a half”, looking to bait a black man into a fight.
Neeson appeared to be shocked by his behaviour and later told Good Morning America, “I’m not a racist. I was trying to show honour, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion. 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.”