Actor Liam Neeson details a story about rape, racial revenge and a murder plot in an interview with Britain’s, The Independent.
Speaking with anchor Robin Roberts, the “Cold Pursuit” actor revisited the situation he found himself in about 40 years ago, which he opened up to Britain’s The Independent about.
“I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urge to lash out,” Neeson said on “GMA” after learning of his friend’s assault, allegedly by a black man.
“After that there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence,” he said. “And I did it for, I’d say, maybe four or five times until I caught myself on, and it really shocked me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me, and it hurt me. I did seek help.”
Neeson said he turned to a priest, two good friends and power walking to work through his issues. “I’m not racist,” he said. “This was nearly 40 years ago.”
Neeson clarified that he asked his loved one about the rapist’s other attributes – besides race – and said that if she had been assaulted by a white man, he would’ve have the same reaction.
“If she has said an Irish, or a Scot, or a Brit, or a Lithuanian, I know I would’ve felt the same effect. I was trying 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 when I came down to Earth after having these horrible feelings,” he added. “Luckily no violence occurred – ever. Thanks be to God.”
When asked if he actually would’ve gone through with his devious plans, Neeson answered “Yes” without hesitation.
“That was my feeling, that I did want to lash out, yes,” he added, “because my friend was brutally raped and I thought I was defending her honor.”
Neeson hopes his confession will get people “to open up.”
“We all pretend we’re kind of politically correct. I mean, in this country, it’s the same in my own country too, you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry, and it’s there,” he told Roberts.
Neeson then asked Roberts what she believed the teachable moment is.
“The one point I want to make out is this wasn’t discovered by somebody, you admitted this… so I give you credit there,” she said, “but also having to acknowledge the hurt, even though it happened decades ago, the hurt of an innocent black man, knowing he could’ve been killed, for something he did not do, because of the color of his skin.”
“I know that you’re getting crucified in many ways for saying what you did,” she added, “and you’re not shying away, you’re admitting that it was wrong, you’ve learned from that, but you have to also understand the pain of a black person hearing what you said.”
“Of course, absolutely,” Neeson responded.
“Violence breeds violence,” he added, “Bigotry breeds bigotry.”
Wrapping up, Roberts thanked Neeson for appearing and having the discussion.
In The Independent interview, which published online Monday, Neeson first shared he sought revenge after discovering someone close to him was raped.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said to the newspaper. “But my immediate reaction was… I asked, did she know who it was? No. ‘What color were they?’ She said it was a black person.
“I went up and down areas with a (nightstick), hoping I’d be approached by somebody – 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?” he continued. “So that I could – kill him.”
Neeson remembered the time with remorse.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he told The Independent. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester
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