On Monday, Liam Neeson spoke to The Independent at a press junket for his latest revenge-fueled action flick, Cold Pursuit. Instead of schmoozing with the press and awaiting the inevitable mediocre box office returns for his newest movie, the veteran actor decided to spill the beans about that
According to the actor, who used very vague details to protect the identity of the other parties involved in the story, some time ago, he returned from shooting overseas to discover that someone very close to him had been raped.
As Neeson explained:
“I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person … I went up and down areas with a cosh [basically a big-ass stick], 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 [another pause] kill him.”
Not one week ago, I personally spent a couple hundred words talking about how awesome Taken still is at ten years old. I have immense respect for Neeson’s talent, his professionalism, and his recent movies. But this shit is really hard to defend.
Neeson is opening up about one of the darkest parts of his past to explain how deeply in touch he is with his Cold Pursuit character. He’s trying to say that rage is such a profound emotion that it can blind an otherwise reasonable person into doing something horrific.
That’s fine, but it’s not what the world heard. They heard about the time Liam Neeson spent a week hunting a random black person in the hopes of working out his personal rage. And the world responded like this:
Liam neeson: promote your movie— Big Girl Slay ? (@Biggirlslay) February 4, 2019
Liam Neeson: tell them about your almost hate crime pic.twitter.com/3wOAYgOeiJ
Liam Neeson I didn’t get racist asshole from you… thanks for sharing asshole pic.twitter.com/GPpjvQ6oYU— Thirsty Sheila (@sreednak) February 4, 2019
And rightfully so. Neeson’s admission sucks. Even if you’re tempted to forgive the guy for once being eaten up rage, racial or not, it’s hard to find yourself sympathizing with someone who expects, on some level, to be praised for such shitty behavior. Neeson wants people to see he overcame his rage and his racism to become a better person, that he learned the destructive power of violence and harnessed it so that we could all enjoy him murdering people on screen.
The fact is, Neeson’s little story really recounts the time someone close to him was assaulted, and rather than support her, he decided to work out his frustration not on the guilty party, but on the first random black guy who talked to him. And now he’d like to be patted on the head and told how woke he is. (That is what the kids are saying these days, right? Woke?)
None of this needed to be said, not in the slightest. This whole misdeed could have stayed locked up tight in Neeson’s memory, and we could have gone on secretly enjoying Liam Neeson, action hero, whenever his movies finally hit streaming. But that’s ruined now.
When prompted on revenge, Neeson should have said, “Of course I get the need for revenge. We’ve all been there.” Everyone’s been cut off in traffic. Everyone gets revenge. Done.
Hell, if he wanted to get specific, he could have stuck to his first-hand experience growing up in Northern Ireland, watching his friends get hollowed out by the constant conflict going on around them. But, no. Neeson thought growing up in a war zone wasn’t sexy enough, so he opened with a fun racist anecdote, instead.
People should be pissed off about that. The actor even knew he was digging his own grave as he spoke, saying, “I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
God forbid, indeed.