The red carpet premiere for “Cold Pursuit” has been cancelled amid backlash against the film’s lead, Liam Neeson, after the actor revealed he once considered a racist “revenge” attack.
While the New York City premiere screening will go on as scheduled, the red carpet for the revenge thriller will not. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a person close to the event said the red carpet featuring the film’s cast and press “wouldn’t be appropriate” given the circumstances.
In the movie, Neeson stars as a snow plow driver who seeks revenge on the drug dealers he believes killed his son. Neeson’s real-life son, Micheal Richardson, plays the actor’s on-screen son in the film.
In an interview published on Monday, Neeson revealed he once harboured the idea of a “revenge” attack after he learned a friend of his had been raped by a black man. According to the author of the story, Neeson intended to illustrate that violence and revenge don’t accomplish anything – a theme prevalent in “Cold Pursuit”.
“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 ‘black b**tard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could … kill him,” the 66-year-old Irish actor recalled the event which occurred 40 years ago. “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that … But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f*** are you doing?,’ you know?”
Amid the immediate wave of criticism over his comments, Neeson went on an apology tour to morning talk shows in New York in an attempt to clarify and provide context for his comments, insisting he isn’t racist. Shocked by his own feelings of revenge, Neeson reveals he sought help through his faith.
“It hurt me. I did seek help. I went to my priest and had two very good friends I spoke to,” he said on “Good Morning America”, explaining that the feelings of revenge would have extended to any race or culture.
“If she’d have said a Brit, a Scot, a Lithuanian I know it would have had the same effect. I was trying to show honour, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion,” he said, adding, “I’m a fairly intelligent guy and that’s why it shocked me when I came down to earth after having these horrible feelings. Luckily no violence occurred, thanks be to God.”