Liam Neeson’s promoting his latest revenge movie, Cold Pursuit, in which he (once again) plays a character driven by revenge, this time as a snowplow driver who’s, you know, out for revenge. Neeson’s penchant for appearing in revenge films has almost approached parody status (that’s part of why the film is anticipated as a guilty pleasure), but the veteran actor’s chosen to promote this particular movie in an unfortunate way — by recalling a story about when he was personally hell bent upon revenge.
Neeson sat down with The Independent to discuss his Cold Pursuit character’s rage and, in the process, he disclosed something he’s never before told to an outlet. It’s a true story, he said, about finding out that someone close to him had been raped. This prompted him to storm the streets with a heavy stick after the victim described her attacker to Neeson, who admitted that he then really wanted to kill any “black bastard” who happened to “have a go at me” for any reason at all, so he could kill that person (after apparently provoking them). It’s an interview that’s causing many to stop in their tracks:
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “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, 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.”
Writer Clémence Michallon noted that Neeson appeared to realize the gravity of what he was saying while relating that he walked the streets for a week with this goal. Neeson also marveled at the fact that he’s saying these “horrible, horrible” things during an interview, and then co-star Tom Bateman dropped a “holy sh*t” because someone had to say it.
Neeson then stated that he’s learned a lesson from his behavior while reflecting upon how he realized, “‘What the f*ck are you doing,’ you know?” And despite this vocalized realization, the sentiment is likely also what his publicist is thinking right about now.
Naturally, Twitter burst into reaction mode. Although folks are acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, it’s clear that Neeson’s remarks have unleashed an enormous dumpster fire that won’t be extinguished anytime soon.