NEW YORK • The red carpet events before the New York premiere of Liam Neeson's new film were cancelled on Tuesday, one day after the publication of remarks in which the actor (above) described once seeking revenge for the rape of a friend by walking the streets looking for a black man to kill.
Neeson appeared on television show Good Morning America (GMA) on Tuesday 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, 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," Neeson said. "And I did it for, I'd say, maybe four or five times."
The red carpet events on Tuesday, which would have exposed Neeson and his co-stars to reporters, cameras and more questions, were cancelled 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 Neeson's remarks.
In his interview with GMA, 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.
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".