Red Carpet Events for ‘Cold Pursuit’ Canceled Amid Uproar Over Neeson’s Remarks | Modern Society of USA

Red Carpet Events for ‘Cold Pursuit’ Canceled Amid Uproar Over Neeson’s Remarks

Red Carpet Events for ‘Cold Pursuit’ Canceled Amid Uproar Over Neeson’s Remarks

The red carpet events before the New York premiere of Liam Neeson’s new film were canceled on Tuesday, one day after the publication of remarks in which the actor described once seeking revenge for the rape of a friend by walking the streets looking for a black man to kill.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Neeson appeared on “Good Morning America” to explain the remarks, which he made during an interview with a British newspaper, The Independent, last month while promoting his new film, “Cold Pursuit.”

The comments were met with outrage on Monday and drew condemnation from civil rights advocates. On Tuesday Mr. Neeson said, “I’m not a racist.”

He said the episode happened roughly 40 years ago, after he learned that a close friend had been raped by an assailant she described as a black man. He told The Independent that he went out looking for a black man “to kill him,” but he avoided that specific language on Tuesday.

“After that there were some nights when I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence,” Mr. Neeson said. “And I did it for, I’d say, maybe four or five times.”

The interviewer, Robin Roberts, who is African-American, gestured to herself and told Mr. Neeson, “You have to understand the pain of a black person hearing what you said.”

Mr. Neeson replied: “You’re absolutely right, and at the time, even though it was 40 years ago, I didn’t think about that. All those things surprised me, but it was this primal hatred, I guess, that really, really shocked me when I eventually came down to earth and saw what I was doing — going out and looking for a fight.”

The red carpet events on Tuesday, which would have exposed Mr. Neeson and his co-stars to reporters, cameras and more questions, were canceled hours before they were scheduled to begin, according to a spokesman for Lionsgate, which is distributing the film.

The spokesman said Lionsgate would make no statement on Mr. Neeson’s remarks. The actor’s spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.

Representatives for his co-stars, Laura Dern and Tom Bateman, also did not respond to requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.

In his interview with “Good Morning America,” Mr. Neeson said he would have responded with a similar “primal urge” if his friend’s attacker had been white. And he said he thought his impulse to violence might have been connected to growing up during the conflict in Northern Ireland, which ended in 1998.

“If she would have said an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian, I know I would have had the same effect,” Mr. Neeson said on Tuesday, referring to his friend. “I was trying to show honor to my — stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion.”

When asked if he would have actually attacked a stranger in response to the rape of his friend, who he said died five years ago, Mr. Neeson said, “Yes.”

He said he overcame his anger by talking with friends, going to confession with a Catholic priest and, “believe it or not, power walking, two hours every day.”

Mr. Neeson said the episode 40 years ago had taught him that violence and revenge only lead to more violence and revenge. He said the uproar this week had taught him something, too.

“We all pretend we’re politically correct, but in this country, it’s the same in my own country, too, but sometimes you just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry,” he said. “It’s there.”

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