Liam Neeson is the target of intense criticism following an interview with The Independent in which he claimed he had looked around for a “black b*****d” to “kill” after he learned somebody close to him had been raped by a black man.

Speaking to Clemence Michallon in an exclusive for The Independent, he discussed his new film Cold Pursuit and his character’s drive for violence.

At one point he reveals a “true story” about someone close to him who was raped. When the unnamed woman told him what happened, his immediate reaction, he revealed, was “did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person".

He continued:

She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way. But my immediate reaction was…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 [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 kill him.

The Taken actor expressed remorse for his actions. “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 added: “It’s awful but I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing,’ you know?”

Neeson's admission left fans reeling.

Independent reporter Jessica Morgan Noah wrote: "I just read the piece. I AM SHOOK, but also not surprised. But to be honest, it just outs him as an incredibly shallow-minded person. I wonder, if his friend had been raped by a white man, he'd have the same attitude towards all white people? Probably not."

People are shocked by his admission.

Some people are torn, arguing that although he acknowledged that his thoughts at the time were "awful", it was still racist.

Many fans are disappointed.

The Independent contacted Neeson’s publicist for further comment but he declined.

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