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‘I’m Not Racist’: Liam Neeson Explains on GMA Why He Went Into ‘Black Areas’ to ‘Unleash’ Violence

One day after an interview was published in which he said he went out looking to kill a “black bastard” after a close friend was raped, actor Liam Neeson is speaking out about his stunning comments.

Appearing on Good Morning America, Neeson explained how he came to share the story with a journalist and discussed how he feels he’s evolved since then.

“We were doing a press junket. And it was, you know, the topic of our film is revenge. It’s a dark comedy too, but its base is revenge. And the lady journalist was asking me, How do you tap into that?’

And I remembered an incident nearly 40 years ago where a very dear friend of mine was brutally raped. And I was out of the country, and when I came back, she told me about this. And she handled the situation herself incredibly bravely, I have to say that.

But I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urge to lash out. I asked her did you know the person? It was a man. No. His race? She said he was a black man. I thought, okay.

And 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, I’d say maybe four or five times until I caught myself on. And it really shocked me this primal urge I had. It shocked me and it hurt me.”

Neeson said that he turned to therapy, religious counsel, and exercise to rehabilitate.

“I’m not racist,” Neeson said. “This was nearly 40 years ago.”

GMA co-host Robin Roberts said: “The one point I want to make out is that this wasn’t discovered by somebody. You admitted this. This isn’t a gotcha…So I give you credit there. But also, having to acknowledge that the hurt — even though it happened decades ago — the hurt of an innocent black man knowing that he could have been killed for something he did not do because of the color of his skin.”

“And they could’ve killed me too,” Neeson said. “At the time.”

In an interview published Monday by the Independent, Neeson recalled saying this after learning about his friend’s rape:

“I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.”

From the Independent:

“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 [Neeson gestures 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,” another pause, “kill him.”

Neeson clearly knows what he’s saying, and how shocking it is, how appalling. “It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’”

Watch above, via ABC.

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: joed@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo