Liam Neeson: ‘I walked the streets with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by a “black bastard” so that I could kill him’

Exclusive: The actor details his ‘awful’ past behaviour in an interview with The Independent

Liam Neeson: ‘I walked the streets with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by a 'black b**tard' so that I could kill him’

Liam Neeson has revealed he once walked the streets with a cosh for days looking to kill a “black bastard” after someone close to him was raped many years ago.

The actor shared the previously undisclosed story with The Independent during a press junket for his new film, Cold Pursuit, admitting that he is now “ashamed” of his past “awful” behaviour.

Neeson, who has starred in films such as Taken and Non-Stop, recalled being told about the rape after he returned from a trip overseas.

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said during the interview, which can be read in full here. “But my immediate reaction was ... did she know who it was? No. What colour 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. I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week – hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

Neeson said it took him about a week or a week and a half to process what had happened.

“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he said. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”

He added: “It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing’, you know?

“I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing.”

Neeson shared the personal story after being asked to give more insight into his Cold Pursuit character Nels Coxman’s need for revenge after his son is killed by a drug gang.

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“I think audience members live to see that,” Neeson said of onscreen violence. “They can kind of live vicariously through it. People say, ‘Yeah but violence in films makes people want to go out and kill people.’ I don’t believe that at all.

“I think the average moviegoer thinks, ‘Yeah, punch him. Punch him.’ And they get a satisfaction out of seeing somebody else enact it, and they leave the theatre and they feel satiated in some way.”

The Independent contacted Neeson’s publicist for further comment but he declined.

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Cold Pursuit is released in UK cinemas on Friday 22 February

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