Whoopi Goldberg has said Liam Neeson is "not a bigot" during a panel discussion following past controversial comments about how he walked around in a black neighbourhood wanting to kill a "black b*****d".

Neeson relayed the story of his rage after he found out someone close to him was raped in an interview with The Independent.

The Taken star had been taking part in a press junket to promote his new film Cold Pursuit. Fans accused the star of racism, prompting him to appear on Good Morning America, where he revealed that he sought help from a priest after the incident, which happened nearly 40 years ago.

Speaking on American talk show The View, actress Whoopi Goldberg said that she’s known Neeson for a while, and she doesn’t believe he is a "bigot".

People walk around sometimes with rage. That’s what happens. Is he a bigot? No. I’ve known him a pretty long time,  I think I would have recognised. I’ve been around a lot of, er, real bigots.

You can’t be surprised that somebody whose loved one is attacked is angry and wants to go out and attack.

So I can say this man is not one.

Neeson’s comments have prompted a discussion about racism. Some are calling for him to be removed from the new Men in Black film, out in June. Others are more forgiving.

Actor Terry Crews tweeted:

I believe that every person on earth is capable of the greatest good, or unspeakable evil. Liam is just describing his fork in the road.

Fans accused Crews of defending Neeson, a charge he vehemently denied.

I’m not defending him at all. In fact, he absolutely revealed what births a white supremacist.

But what’s worse is those who practice it and NEVER reveal it.

Neeson's decision to share the story with the world has been polarising. Some, like football legend John Barnes, thinks he "deserves a medal" for his honesty, whereas others, like journalist George Johnson said the actor's account is indicative of a larger problem.

He wrote on Twitter: “Liam Neeson is definitely a reminder that there are folks who walk around hoping to provoke black people so they can kill us.

“A lot of them are in law enforcement and politics.”

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