In the midst of an interview for The Independent about his latest film, Cold Pursuit, 66-year-old actor Liamm Neeson accounted for a troubled time in his life when one of his close friends was raped.
“I’ll tell you a story. This is true,” Neeson began. “She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way. But my immediate reaction was … I asked, did she know who it was? No. What color were they? She said it was a black person.”
The color of one’s skin regarding any situation should not matter, but it did to Neeson. Neeson explained he would go up and down areas with a weighted weapon, hoping to be approached by somebody who would want to have a go with him.
“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.”
Even though they would ask, Neeson never told the victim where he was going or what he was up to. He chose not to name or give details of the victim during the interview for their protection.
Clémence Michallon, who interviewed Neeson, pointed out that he had a tremble in his breath during the interview, and that he realized how appalling and shocking this all is.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” the Taken actor said. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
“But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f— are you doing,’ you know?,” he continued.
Neeson went on to discuss his upbringing in Northern Ireland during the hunger strikes and how he knew a couple people that died and some that were caught up in the troubles.
“I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that,” Neeson said. “All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. But that primal need, I understand.”
In Cold Pursuit, the son of Neeson’s character, Nels Coxman, is killed by a drug gang, which then sparks the desire to revenge his son’s death.
“I think audience members live to see [that violence on screen],” Neeson continues. “They can kind of live vicariously through it. People say, ‘Yeah but violence in films makes people want to go out and kill people.’ I don’t believe that at all.”
For those who are still interested, Cold Pursuit is set to release February 8.