The 66-year-old actor appeared on Good Morning America on Tuesday to address the outrage over his recent comments in an interview, where he recalled walking around with a weapon to ‘kill’ a ‘black bastard’ after learning of his friend’s rape.
Speaking on the controversy for the first time, Neeson told Robin Roberts: ‘We were doing a press junket and the topic of the film is revenge, it’s a dark comedy too.’
‘The lady journalist was asking me how I tap into that and I remembered an incident nearly 40 years ago where a very dear friend of mine was brutally raped. I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urge to lash out.’
Neeson then explained how he ‘deliberately’ went to black areas to be ‘set upon’ by a black person so he could ‘unleash physical violence’.
‘I did maybe four or five times until I caught myself on. It really shocked me this primal urge I had.’
‘Luckily, no violence occurred thanks be to God.’
The Taken actor revealed that he did ‘seek help’ at the time by speaking to a priest and ‘power walking’.
In defence of himself, Neeson then stated: ‘I’m not racist, this was nearly 40 years ago. I was brought up in the north of Ireland, in the Troubles.
‘I had acquaintances who were involved in the Troubles, the bigotry. One Catholic would be killed, a Protestant would be killed.
I grew up surrounded by that but I was never part of it.’ Much of the backlash surrounded Neeson’s focus on the race of his friend’s attacker, but he reveals he did ask her about other factors like height.
When asked if he’d have had the same reaction if the attacker was a different race, Neeson replied: ‘Definitely. If she’d have said an Irish, Scot, Brit I know I would have felt the same way. I was trying to show honour and stand up for my dear friend in this medieval fashion. It shocked me when I realised the terrible things I said.