Liam Neeson just revealed a shocking anecdote to UK newspaper The Independent in light of his role in Cold Pursuit, in which his character tries to avenge the death of his son. He told the outlet that he could relate to the character because of a past instance when he discovered someone close to him had allegedly been sexually assaulted, and that the experience prompted him to seek out a racially-charged attack.
“I asked, did she know who it was? No," Neeson recounted. "What color were they? She said it was a black person."
He then said he "went up and down areas with a cosh" — British slang for a heavy stick or bar — "hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
Upon reflection, Neeson says the whole thing was "horrible," but it's especially striking to admit in the aftermath of the racist and homophobic attack against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who was beaten and released from the hospital last week.
"That Liam Neeson interview is just so saddening (and yes, still racist)," writer Ash Sarkar tweeted. "It reinforces the idea that people of color, and especially black men, are collectively responsible for the misdeeds of one. And that when a woman is sexually violated, it's a man who is left truly wounded."
That Liam Neeson interview is just so saddening (and yes, still racist). It reinforces the idea that people of colour, and especially black men, are collectively responsible for the misdeeds of one. And that when a woman is sexually violated, it's a man who is left truly wounded.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) February 4, 2019
"I’m just....how did Liam Neeson arrive at that particular answer during an interview," another wrote.
A representative for Neesom did not immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).