It's not often during a press junket that a celebrity says something so surprising their co-star mutters, "Holy s---." But so it was during a recent interview with the Independent to promote his new film Cold Pursuit, when Liam Neeson told journalist Clémence Michallon a story that, he said, he'd never shared before. A female friend once told him she had been raped by a black man, Neeson said, and he was so enraged that "I went up and down areas with a cosh (a blunt instrument used as a weapon), hoping I’d be approached by somebody—I’m ashamed to say that—and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [making 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." He said that he ultimately came to his senses and "thought, 'What the f--- are you doing,'" realizing the behavior was "awful."
Neeson's co-star Tom Bateman can be heard in the taped interview uttering the aforementioned expletive as Neeson told the story, and, as the Daily Beast notes, Neeson himself seemed to realize, as he continued to talk, that the story would likely make waves. It "was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that and I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid," the actor said. He appeared to be trying to explain the appeal of a movie like Cold Pursuit, in which his character seeks revenge after his son is killed by a drug gang. He explained that he understands the "primal need" for revenge, and movies allow people to fill that need "vicariously." Neeson declined, through his publicist, to comment further on the rape story when contacted by Michallon a few days later. (Neeson recently made controversial comments about #MeToo.)