Liam Neeson Explains Why He Shared Controversial Revenge Story: 'We Need to Be Honest'

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Liam Neeson is still discussing the controversial revenge story he shared with Britain's The Independent.

During Tuesday's Live With Kelly & Ryan, the 66-year-old actor responded to the backlash he's been receiving ever since he revealed he once sought revenge after an unnamed female loved one told him she had allegedly been raped by a black man.

Co-host Ryan Seacrest asked Neeson why he feels it's important to address the incident now, even though it happened decades ago.

"I just feel we need to be honest," Neeson said. "I grew up in a society where there was a lot of bigotry and a lot of violent Protestants and Catholics. I'm so sick of it. So when I encountered it myself... I just needed to be honest. Rather than backtrack and say, 'Oh no, I didn't say that. I didn't mean that.'"

When Seacrest started to ask a second question about the situation, Neeson, who appeared on the show to promote his new film, Cold Pursuit, turned it down.

"I already talked about it this morning," he said. "I just don't want to go over background again. I'm not backtracking, I promise you, but let's talk about the movie."

He added, however, that if there's one lesson he's learned from it, it's the need for "genuine dialogue" -- between his head and his heart, between himself and the co-hosts, and between the three of them and the entire audience.

The answer received a round of applause from the crowd. "We're living in [a nation] that we know is horribly divided," Neeson continued. "We have to come together. This is the United States of America."

When Neeson said he "already talked about it this morning," he was referring to an earlier interview with Robin Roberts on Tuesday's Good Morning America, in which he proclaimed he was "not racist."

He said the incident -- in which he "went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I'd be approached by somebody" -- happened "nearly 40 years ago" after "a very dear friend" of his (who is no longer alive) told him she had been "brutally raped" by a black man. 

"[I] went out deliberately and to black areas in the city, looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence," Neeson told Roberts. "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."

"I'm not racist," he insisted. "This was nearly 40 years ago, and because I was brought up in the North of Ireland and brought up in the Troubles, the '60s, '70s, and early '80s, there was a war going on in the North of Ireland, and I had acquaintances who were involved in the Troubles, the bigotry. One Catholic would be killed, the next day a Protestant would be killed. One Catholic pub would be bombed and then a Protestant pub bombed. I grew up around that, but was never part of it."

Nesson previously told The Independent that although he was "ashamed" to admit it, he acted that way for "maybe a week."

"[I was] hoping some 'black b*****d' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know?" he told the outlet. "So that I could... kill him."

Hear more on Neeson in the video below.


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