Liam Neeson says he once tried to avenge the rape of someone close to him.(Photo: Stephanie Branchu/20th Century Fox)
In a shocking new interview, "Taken" star Liam Neeson says he once sought revenge for a loved one's rape by searching for a black person to kill.
During an interview with Britain's The Independent, the Irish Oscar nominee-turned-action star revealed that when he returned home from an overseas trip and learned a loved one had been raped, he went looking for revenge.
“There’s something primal – God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions," he said before launching into the never-before-heard story.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson told the outlet. “But my immediate reaction was... I asked, did she know who it was? No. What color were they? She said it was a black person.
“I went up and down areas with a (crowbar), hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘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, now 66, looks back at the incident with shame and regret.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he says. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
"I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that," Neeson says.(Photo: Stephanie Branchu/20th Century Fox)
He says the experience taught him a serious lesson: when overcome with such emotion, he needed to stop and ask himself, "what the (expletive) are you doing?"
He continues, “I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles," referring to the decades-long strife between Catholics, who wanted to split from the U.K. and form a united Ireland, and Protestant loyalists who wished to remain. "I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that. All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. That primal need, I understand.”
Neeson never elaborated on when the rape or his subsequent attempt at revenge took place. Interviewer Clémence Michallon later requested a follow-up interview with Neeson, who is in the midst of a press tour for his new film "Cold Pursuit, to discuss the incident further.
"He declined," Michallon noted. "But as Neeson said, the story has now been told for the first time. Perhaps that’s enough."