The actor Liam Neeson mentioned in an interview with a British newspaper final month that he as soon as spent per week strolling the streets with a membership searching for a black man to kill after a girl near him was raped by somebody she mentioned was black.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Mr. Neeson mentioned of the episode, which he mentioned occurred years in the past. “But my immediate reaction was, did she know who it was? No. What color were they? She said it was a black person.”
“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody,” the Northern Ireland-born Mr. Neeson mentioned, utilizing a British phrase that describes a clublike weapon. “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.”
Mr. Neeson made the feedback, which had been revealed in The Independent on Monday with an audio recording of the interview, throughout a press occasion to advertise his new movie, “Cold Pursuit.” The remarks had been instantly met with public outrage.
“It’s unfortunate and sick that Liam Neeson would in response to a tragedy simply seek out any black person to murder,” Malik Russell, a spokesman for the N.A.A.C.P., mentioned in an e-mail. “Pain suffered is not an excuse for racism.”
“If black people responded this way regarding all the times our ancestors were lynched, raped, mutilated, tortured or shot down by police brutality, there would be too many bodies to count,” Mr. Russell added. “The fact that black people have been able to not blame every white person for the deeds of racist whites is a tribute to our character as a people.”
Mr. Neeson, 66, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his function in “Schindler’s List,” has starred in a collection of high-profile Hollywood motion pictures, together with “Les Misérables,” “Love Actually,” “Michael Collins,” “Gangs of New York” and “Star Wars: Episode I.”
In addition to “Cold Pursuit,” which tells the story of a person who commits a collection of revenge killings after the loss of life of his son, he has additionally appeared as a vengeful father in the “Taken” collection, greatest recognized for his vow to make use of “a particular set of skills” on his daughter’s kidnapper.
Representatives for Mr. Neeson and for the movie firm Lionsgate, which is distributing his new movie, didn’t reply Monday to requests for remark about his remarks to The Independent.
Representatives for Mr. Neeson’s co-stars, Laura Dern and Tom Bateman, additionally didn’t reply to requests for remark, although on the audio recording of the interview Mr. Bateman may be heard responding with a shocked expletive to Mr. Neeson’s remarks.
In the interview, Mr. Neeson mentioned he had by no means publicly talked in regards to the episode earlier than.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he mentioned. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
Mr. Neeson solid the episode as a parable on the pointlessness of searching for revenge and related it again to the battle in Northern Ireland, which ended in 1998.
“It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it,” he mentioned. “I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing.”
The creator of the Independent article, Clémence Michallon, said on Twitter that the interview with Mr. Neeson and Mr. Bateman happened three weeks ago at a hotel in New York City.
She said the story had gone through many rounds of editing and had been written “a thousand different ways.”
She said that “everything changed” in the interview when she asked Mr. Neeson why his character in the film embarks on a series of revenge killings after his son dies. That is when Mr. Neeson shared the story, she said.
At the end, she said, he “politely” asked her to be “very careful” if she included the anecdote in her article. He then jokingly slipped into the voice he used in the movie “Taken,” and told her if she were not, “I will find you,” she said.