Liam Neeson is defending himself after a shocking interview in which he admitted he once sought out a random black man to "kill" after a loved one was raped.
The 66-year-old sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts to discuss the controversy on Tuesday. As Roberts was quick to point out, when the interview was released, many critics questioned whether he would have been as vengeful if his loved one’s attacker had been white.
"I’m not a racist," Neeson said, explaining that the incident happened "nearly 40 years ago" adding that he "definitely" would have sought out a white man with as much anger.
"I was trying to show honor, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion," Neeson said. "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."
Neeson also said he sought out help for his behavior. He said: "I did it for maybe four or five times until I caught myself on And it really shocke me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me and it hurt me. And I did seek help. I went to a priest and made my confession. I was reared a Catholic."
He added that "power walking" helped ease his anger.
ROBERTS PUSHES BACK
Roberts pushed him on several points.
"This wasn’t discovered by somebody. You admitted this. I give you credit there. But also you have to acknowledge that 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," Roberts said. "I know that you’re getting crucified in many ways for saying what you did — and you’re not shying away, you’re admitting that it was wrong — but you have to also understand the pain of a black person hearing what you said."
"All those things surprised me," Neeson said. "But it was this primal hatred, I guess, that really, really shocked me when I eventually came down to earth and I saw what I was doing. Going out and looking for a fight? Violence breeds violence, bigotry breeds bigotry."
CHILDHOOD TO BLAME?
He also blamed his childhood in Northern Ireland for his perception of violence’s purpose.
"I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and 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," he said. "All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that. But that primal need, I understand."AUDIO: LIAM_NEESON