Liam Neeson racism row: star turned to a priest for help when he wanted to kill a black man after friend's rape

Actor Liam Neeson poses during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors Awards in Los Angeles, California November 8, 2014.REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Liam Neeson has denied being racist after saying he wanted to kill a random black man after the rape of a friend.

Neeson, 66, shocked fans and other showbiz personalities when he confessed in an interview with The Independent that he had gone around with a cosh looking for a 'black b******d' after his close friend was raped. 

'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 bastard' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him,' he told the newspaper.

His comments led to accusations of racism and some calls for him to be banned from the Oscars or Hollywood altogether. 

UK Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan said his comments reflected the 'purest personification of racism'.

In light of the backlash, the Taken actor went on Good Morning America to insist that he was not racist.

He also admitted that he had been so 'scared' by his urge to kill that he sought the help of a priest, who heard his confession.

'I'm not racist, this was 40 years ago. I had a primal urge. I was trying to show honour for a friend I dearly loved in a medieval fashion,' he said. 

He continued: 'I did seek help. I went to a priest, who heard my confession' and also later confided in two friends while out powerwalking.' 

The actor said he would have had the same reaction if the rapist had been white. 

'If he was Irish, a Scot or Brit or a Lithuanian. I know I would have had the same reaction,' he said. 

He made the shocking confession during an interview to discuss his new movie, Cold Pursuit, in which he plays a dad seeking revenge against a drug baron following the murder of his son.