“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that," he told The Independent
Liam Neeson is being slammed as racist for revealing that after a female friend of his was allegedly raped, he wanted to “kill” someone the same race as her attacker — a black man.
The alarming admission came while the Irish actor, 66, was promoting his new film Cold Pursuit during an interview with The Independent.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” Neeson told the outlet.
“God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he told the paper before recalling the rape of his close friend.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” he said. “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.”
Neeson continued, “I went up and down areas with a cosh [bludgeon], hoping I’d be approached by somebody — I’m ashamed to say that … 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.”
He shared that he acted this way for “a week, maybe a week and a half … [My friend] would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No, no, nothing’s wrong.’ ”
Looking back, the Oscar winner said how wrong he was.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid,” he said before concluding, “It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f—k are you doing?’ “
Despite his realization, Neeson’s reveal angered a plethora of fans, fellow actors and celebrities.
“Liam Neeson is a performative racist. It’s sad because I was quite fond of him. He found an excuse to channel his racism into violence. He was willing to attack and hurt an innocent black man for an unrelated crime. That’s just disgusting,” one fan wrote.
“It’s terrible that Liam Neeson thought about committing a hate crime,” comedian Hari Kondabolu tweeted.
“Good to know Liam…” The Real cohost Loni Love wrote.
“Liam Neeson admitting he camped out in front of pubs, waiting and hoping to kill a black man is… not what I expected to read about this Monday morning, actress Sarah Jeffery tweeted.
“That Liam Neeson interview is just so saddening (and yes, still racist). It reinforces the idea that people of color, and especially black men, are collectively responsible for the misdeeds of one,” one user expressed.
Neeson’s reps did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The Love Actually alum also explained in the interview that growing up in Northern Ireland in the ’70s — right after the founding of the Irish Republican Army — molded his perception of violence.
“I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and 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,” he said. “All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that. But that primal need, I understand.”