More than a month after making racist comments about how he wanted to kill “a black bastard” out of revenge when he found out his friend was raped, Liam Neeson has issued an apology.
“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.
Neeson made the comments in a February interview with the Independent while promoting his latest film, Cold Pursuit. In the interview, he said he “went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody — I’m ashamed to say that — and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘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 his apology, the actor said that “the horror” of his friend’s experience “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,” he said.
Neeson’s comments sparked a lot of backlash and criticism, and the red carpet rollout for Cold Pursuit was canceled.
“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,” the actor said. “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.”