Liam Neeson has been an A-list movie star for as long as most of us can remember. He's had dramatic turns in iconic movies like Schindler's List, but has had a surprise career resurgence as an action star.
It's not often that someone becomes the go-to Hollywood action hunk when they're in their mid-50s. Neeson, now 66, is still going strong. His Taken movies franchise took off and made studios a killing and he's in another spat of movies of a similar style.
Cold Pursuit is his newest film. He stars as a father pursuing the gang that, well I won't spoil it, but it's another protective father out for vengeance type movie.
Promoting the movie, Neeson sat down with a UK news outlet The Independent and shed some light on his past vengeful actions.
In doing so he might have just derailed his career.
Many years ago, according to the outlet, a friend who was close to Neeson was raped.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said to The Independent. “But my immediate reaction was I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person."
Neeson said for over a week after the incident he walked around town with a "cosh," which is a heavy stick like a billy-club. He wanted someone to pick a fight.
“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.”
His confession is shocking in its content, but also its honesty. With no regard for the repercussions, Neeson admitted to a shameful part of his past.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he said. “And I’ve never admitted that."
Neeson never got the encounter he hoped for and said he processed his friend's attack after about a week and realized he was acting foolishly.
He said he learned from his behavior, that vengeance only begets more violence and more pain.
It's possible he thought that, having learned from his experience, his admission would be viewed for how he intended it: a mistake of youth long since buried.
That's not how the internet took it.
Surely #liamneeson has committed career suicide— the goddamn Batman! (@_SarcasticMrFox) February 4, 2019
Oh dear. Liam Neeson is going to regret that interview, What the hell were you thinking? #LiamNeeson— E i n e z 🎬🍷🏁 (@EinCrespo1) February 4, 2019
Twitter exploded with news of the interview, many people already burying Neeson's career. Some spoke in his defence.
People are only interested in the awful bit, not the lesson learned bit #LiamNeeson 😩— Special Kebab (@SoTiredzzz) February 4, 2019
'Incidents as abhorrent as rape can... shape the way someone thinks about a specific community' - we all know this. We also know that people are less ignorant now than 20, 30 years ago. Why judge past mistakes rather than be grateful that they are not being repeated? #LiamNeeson— Lucie Sweet (@LucieSweet) February 4, 2019
The world was undoubtedly different decades ago, but racism is still alive and well in the world. For those who have experienced it, they may have a hard time looking at Liam Neeson, knowing he once had the capacity for blindly judging others based on their skin color and the urge to commit violence.
We're thankful he's grown and he's only shown himself to be a kind man in the past years, but the admission is still a shock and will surely have consequences for him down the line.