Toronto, February 6: After admitting in an interview that he wanted to kill “any black man,” reputed Hollywood actor Liam Neeson is having to defend himself from being called ‘racist.’ Neeson spoke out and defended himself saying, "I'm not racist." He added, "This was nearly 40 years ago."
The controversy began after the Schindler's List actor recounted a painful incident from his past in relation to the current film he was promoting. Neeson narrated that a woman close to him had been attacked and raped. He did not reveal who the victim was but said he found out about the crime when he returned home from a trip.
"She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way," Neeson told the newspaper, which published an audio excerpt. "But my immediate reaction was ... 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 [crowbar], hoping I'd be approached by somebody. I'm ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week -- hoping some [Neeson gestured air quotes with his fingers, according to the Independent] 'black bastard' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."
Neeson also said that his primal instinct took over: "I was trying to show honor, stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion."
Neeson was then asked about why did you "ask about color. You didn't ask if the person was tall or short, big or small. You immediately went to race."
The actor conceded that, but said he did ask those other questions. He also admitted that he felt horrified at himself and this urge to kill that had taken over him. He took the help of a priest to get through this stage. Read: Empire's Jussie Smollett, Victim Of A Possible Racially-Charged Assault
Neeson’s interview started a firestorm on social media where people accused him of using stereotypes to define black people. However, the next day Neeson said that he wanted his original comments to start a wider conversation about racism. At another promotional interview for his film Cold Pursuit, he said, "We all pretend we're all politically correct in this country...in mine, too. You sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it's there. "
Neeson is originally from Northern Ireland and he also recounted the violent protests that engulfed the country during the 1960s and 70s which he says also led him to conclude that “Violence breeds violence," he said. "Bigotry breeds bigotry."