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Liam Neeson premiere scrapped amid racism row

Neeson attempted to clarify his comments and insisted he is "not racist" in an interview on Good Morning America on Tuesday.

Liam Neeson attends the Netflix's 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' NYFF Red Carpet Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on 4 October 2018 in New York City. Picture: Getty Images for Netflix/AFP.

LONDON - Liam Neeson's New York premiere of Cold Pursuit was scaled back and the red carpet was cancelled following his controversial interview earlier this week.

The 66-year-old actor sparked a huge outcry when he candidly admitted he understood his character in his latest film, Cold Pursuit's desire for revenge after he had deliberately sought a racially-charged altercation because he was so desperate to "kill" someone after a female friend was raped.

And though Neeson attempted to clarify his comments and insisted he is "not racist" in an interview on Good Morning America on Tuesday, hours before he and his co-stars in the movie were due to walk the red carpet in New York, all interviews and photocalls were cancelled.

However, the screening of the movie was still scheduled to go ahead as planned.

Neeson's interview with The Independent was published on Monday and though he admitted he was ashamed of how he'd felt at the time, he still experienced a huge backlash for his comments.

He had been describing his reaction when the female acquaintance confided in him about being raped and said: "I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

"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*d' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.

"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.' "

He then gave a follow-up interview on Good Morning America where he admitted he had been "shocked" by his "primal urge" for revenge.

He said: "I had never felt this feeling before, which was a primal urge to lash out.

"She said he was a black man. 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."

Neeson admitted he sought help for his violent feelings.

He added: "I did seek help. I went to a priest, [he] heard my confession and I was a Catholic. I am not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago."

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