Whoopi Goldberg has defended Liam Neeson and claimed that the actor ‘isn’t a bigot’ amid controversy over his racist thoughts to murder a black person.
The 63-year-old actress, who has known Liam for years through being in the industry together, spoke out on the race row during an appearance on US talkshow The View.
Whoopi claimed that people shouldn’t be ‘surprised’ by Liam’s desire to attack after hearing that his loved one had been raped.
During the interview where she was quizzed about the ordeal, Whoopi said: ‘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 real bigots. I can say this man is not one.
‘You can’t be surprised that somebody whose loved one is attacked is angry and wants to go out and attack.’
Whoopi praised Liam’s decision to get help after realising that he was suffering from these dark thoughts after hearing that his close friend was attacked.
Liam has denied he is a racist but failed to apologise as he faced the world for the first time on Good Morning America since admitting he wanted to kill a random ‘black b*****d’ after a friend was raped.
He made the astonishing admission as he discussed his latest film about a father’s quest for revenge against a drug baron after his son is killed.
The movie is out in the US on Friday and will be released into UK cinemas on February 22, but it is not yet known if he will attend the UK premiere.
Liam appeared on Good Morning America Tuesday and revealed he had sought help from a Catholic priest after spending a week prowling the streets with a cosh to murder a black man.
He said he ‘understood’ the hurt his words had caused but insisted: ‘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’.
The star, who was later hugged and kissed by black audience members on the Live with Kelly and Ryan show, said he had gone to church when he became ‘scared’ and realised he had wanted to ‘unleash’ murder on a stranger for his friend, who he said died five years ago.
He said: ‘I did seek help. I went to a priest, who heard my confession’ and also later confided in two friends and would go out powerwalking for ‘two hours a day to get this [anger] out of me’.
GMA host Robins Roberts asked him if he ‘understood the pain of a black person’ hearing his words.
He replied: ‘Absolutely, you’re absolutely right. And at the time, even though this was nearly 40 years ago, I didn’t think about that. It was this primal hatred, I guess, that really shocked me, when I eventually came down to earth and saw what I was doing, looking for a fight’.
When asked how he would feel if his unnamed friend’s attacker was white he said: ‘If he was Irish, a Scot or Brit or a Lithuanian. I know I would have had the same reaction’.
Liam, whose critics have said he should be banned from the Oscars and making movies, said his anger came during the Troubles in Northern Ireland where murder was all around him.
More than 1,000 people died in 30 years of conflict between mostly Protestants, who fought for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK against mostly Catholics who wanted it to be part of the Republic of Ireland.
He explained that this is why he chose to speak out about prowling the streets with a weapon and said: ‘Violence breeds violence. Bigotry breeds bigotry’.
Describing what motivated him to try to attack a black man he told GMA: ‘Nearly 40 years ago when a very dear friend of mine was brutally raped and I was out of the country and when I came back she told me about it.
‘I had never felt this feeling before, which was a primal urge to lash out. I asked her did she know the person, and his race. She said he was a black man.
‘I thought okay and 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.
‘I did it for say, maybe four or five times until I caught myself and it really shocked me, this primal urge. It shocked me and it hurt me. Luckily no violence occurred’.
When asked about his friend he said: ‘She passed away by the way five years ago’.
His shocking story has provoked a huge backlash on social media, with many accusing Liam of racism.
Liam’s incendiary intervention has split opinion. Some have called for him to be banned from the Oscars or even put out of work for good.
Others called the furor a ‘witchhunt’ and he ‘deserves a medal’ for his admission about how society viewed black people in the 1970s and 1980s.
In his latest film Liam Neeson plays Nels Coxman in Cold Pursuit, a small town snowplow operator intent on tracking down the drug dealers he believes to be responsible for the death of his son.
The film is a remake of 2014 Norwegian film In Order Of Disappearance and also stars Emmy Rossum and Laura Dern.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, by Charlotte Dean