“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson told the newspaper, which published an audio excerpt. “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 [crowbar], hoping I’d be approached by somebody. I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week — hoping some [Neeson gestured air quotes with his fingers, according to the Independent] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
On Tuesday he told “GMA’s” Robin Roberts that “It really shocked me, this primal urge I had.”
“It shocked me and it hurt me,” Neeson said. “I did seek help. I went to a priest who heard my confession.”
The “Taken” star said power walking two hours a day and talking it out with two friends also helped him.
Neeson explained that he grew up surrounded by violence during The Troubles in Northern Ireland — a sectarian conflict which included terrorist attacks and bombings.
Roberts pushed back, pointing out that Neeson “asked about color. You didn’t ask if the person was tall or short, big or small. You immediately went to race.”
The actor conceded that, but said he did ask those other questions of his friend who he said has since died.
He said he would have had the same reaction had his friend said her rapist was white.
“If she had said an Irish, or a Scot, or a Brit or a Lithuanian I know I would have felt the same effect,” Neeson said. “I was trying to show honor, stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion.”
Roberts pointed out the pain some have felt over Neeson’s remarks and he said he hopes his comments help people to talk more openly about racism and bigotry.
“Violence breeds violence,” he said. “Bigotry breeds bigotry.”