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People remain confused and upset by Liam Neeson’s racist revenge plot

He described seeking out a random Black person to fight after a close friend was raped by a Black person.


Alex Dalbey


Published Feb 5, 2019   Updated May 20, 2021, 7:53 pm CDT

On Monday, the Independent published an interview with Liam Neeson that included a shocking confession from the actor: He once attempted to find a random Black person to fight and kill, in response to a close friend being raped by a Black person.

In the context of the interview, Neeson began the story by explaining what causes someone to turn to revenge. He explained that years ago when he learned that a close friend had been raped, he wanted to do something. His friend didn’t know the identity of the rapist, but when Neeson asked for a description she said he was Black.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody—I’m ashamed to say that,” said Neeson in the interview. “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.”

In the interview Neeson expressed dismay at what he’d done, saying, “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that.” Although Neeson clearly sees that it was wrong now, the admission still made people uncomfortable, confused, and angry.

Neeson went on Good Morning America today to clarify his story, and was met with a serious conversation from anchor Robin Roberts about racism today, and where his story fits in. Neeson explained to Roberts that he realized what he was doing was wrong and sought help, saying, “I’m not racist. That was 40 years ago.”

When Roberts asked Neeson what the teachable moment was here, he said, “To talk about these things,” said Neeson. “In this country, it’s the same in my own country too, you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and this bigotry.” When he turned the question back to Roberts she went deeper.

“[The lesson is] having to acknowledge the hurt, even though it happened decades ago, the hurt of an innocent Black man knowing that he could have been killed for something he did not do because of the color of their skin,” Roberts said. “You’re not shying away, you’re admitting it was wrong. You’ve learned from that … but you have to also understand the pain of a Black person hearing what you said.” 

Roberts’ words ring especially true today, on what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 24th birthday, had the unarmed Black teen not been shot and killed by George Zimmerman in 2012.

Some people also made a connection to the recent attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, reportedly targeted in a recent Chicago hate crime.

Although some people want to commend Neeson for his honesty, others see this as further normalizing random acts of violence toward Black people. On Twitter at least, many users aren’t ready to accept his candid apology.

H/T Good Morning America

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*First Published: Feb 5, 2019, 1:49 pm CST