The red carpet at the premiere for Liam Neeson’s latest action movie has been canceled a day after the actor told a British journalist a shocking story of racist revenge. A person familiar with the matter told Deadline that the New York event wouldn’t be appropriate under the circumstances. The premiere screening at AMC Loews Lincoln Square itself will go on as planned.
The move comes as backlash grows over the actor’s admission in an interview with The Independent that he once took to the streets decades ago with a mission to murder a random “black bastard” in revenge over a black man’s rape of one of the actor’s friends.
Neeson told the paper that his friend “handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way.” However, his reaction was a bit different. He asked her a bunch of questions including what color the assailant was. When he found out he was black he admitted that he “went up and down areas with a cosh (a blackjack-like club), hoping I’d be approached by somebody.” He added, “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.”
This morning, Neeson went on Good Morning America to discuss the matter. “I’m not a racist,” he said on the ABC program, but explained that he felt a “primal urge to lash out” after learning about his friend’s sexual assault.
“I went out deliberately into black areas in the city, looking to be set upon,” he said, adding that he did it four or five times. “It shocked me and it hurt me … I did seek help, I went to a priest.” He also said power walking helped him get over his anger.
“Luckily no violence occurred,” Neeson said, but he added that he likely would have attacked and possibly killed a man if confronted. Neeson explained that if his female friend had described her attacker as white he would have searched for someone who fit that description.
For now, Lionsgate still is scheduled to open Cold Pursuit wide on Friday. It’s the latest revenge-themed actioner starring the 66-year-old Northern Ireland native, whose credits include the three Taken films. In this one he plays a snowplow driver in a tony resort town whose beloved son in murdered. Neeson’s Nels Coxman sets out to exact vengeance on the guilty parties.