Lionsgate has canceled the red carpet at the premiere of Liam Neeson’s dark comedy “Cold Pursuit” just hours before the event was set to take place in New York City (via Variety). The news comes in the midst of a controversy involving an interview Liam Neeson gave to The Independent in which he revealed several decades ago he wanted to indiscriminantly kill a black man after learning his good friend was brutally raped. The interview, published February 4, resulted in backlash against Neeson accusing the actor of racism.
As clarified by Neeson during an interview with “Good Morning America” earlier today, the actor was out of the country at the time of the sexual assault and was overtaken by a sense of revenge when he heard the news.
“She said he was a black man,” Neeson told “GMA” host Robin Roberts. “After that, there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence, and I did it for four or five times until I caught myself on. It shocked me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me. It hurt me. I did seek help. I went to a priest…I am not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago.”
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Neeson stressed his desire was motived by revenge and not race, and he said he would have still felt the same urge had a white man sexually assaulted his friend. “It would have had the same effect,” the actor said. “I was trying to show honor, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion. I am a fairly intelligent guy. That’s why it kind of shocked me when I came down to earth after having these terrible feelings. Luckily no violence occurred. I did want to lash out because my friend was brutally raped and I was defending her honor. It was a learning curve.”
“Cold Pursuit,” directed by Hans Petter Moland, is the English-language remake of the 2014 Norwegian film “In Order of Disappearance.” Neeson stars as a snowplow driver whose son is mysteriously murdered, forcing him to exact revenge on a local drug lord. Lionsgate is opening “Cold Pursuit” nationwide this Friday, February 8 in about 2,500 theaters. IndieWire has reached out to the studio for further comment.