Speaking on Good Morning America this Tuesday, February 5, the actor said he chose to tell his controversial story because his new film, Cold Pursuit, focuses on the complexity of revenge. By sharing his own experience with it, he hoped to shine a light on the dangers of the dark emotion.
"I remembered an incident nearly 40 years ago where a very dear friend of mine was brutally raped and I was out of the country and when I came back she told me about this and she handled the situation herself incredibly bravely, I have to say that," said Neeson, 66.
But are fans buying his excuse?
RadarOnline.com readers know the star made headlines this Monday, February 4, when the Independent published his polemic interview, where he said he roamed the streets looking for a "black bastard" to kill after he learned a black man had raped his loved one.
Soon, Twitter went wild, bashing the Irish actor for his offensive remark and calling for him to be banned from the upcoming Oscars.
Still explaining himself, Neeson told GMA host Robin Roberts that he felt the need to get revenge on the man who'd hurt his friend, but after some time, he shocked himself by his own vile thoughts and actions.
"And 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 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," he said.
"It shocked me and it hurt me. I did seek help. I went to a priest, heard my confession and I was a Catholic," continued Neeson.
Neeson said he grew up in a very Catholic and reserved community, but he prides himself on being accepting to all personalities, beliefs and races.
"I'm not racist, this was nearly 40 years ago," he continued.
Roberts, 58, asked the actor if he would have had the same reaction had he found out the man was white.
"Definitely...a Scott or a Brit or a Lithuanian. I know I would have had the same effect. I was trying to show honor to my — stand up for my dear friend and terrible medieval fashion and I'm a fairly intelligent guy and that's why it kind of shocked me when I came down to Earth after having these horrible feelings. Luckily no violence occurred ever. Thanks be to God," said Neeson.
"If it was a black man who had nothing to do…" Roberts began.
"That was my feeling that I did want to lash out, yes. Because my friend was brutally raped and I thought I was defending her honor. And I admit that and it's a learning curve," replied Neeson.
"But what is the teachable — what are you hoping people will learn from you making these statements?" asked Roberts.
"We all pretend we're all kind of, you know, politically correct. I mean, in this country it's same in my own country too. You sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it's there," said Neeson.
The star added that while he knows his reaction was wrong, he was as shaken by it as everyone else was when he revealed it.
"Hatred, I guess that really, really shocked me. When I eventually came down to Earth and saw what I was doing, going out looking for a fight," he said.
In the end, however, he said it was a learning experience and he has moved on.
"Violence breeds violence. Bigotry breeds bigotry," Neeson concluded.
What do you think of Liam Neeson's explanation following his racist backlash? Let us know below.
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