New York premiere of Liam Neeson’s ‘Cold Pursuit’ cancelled amid racism row

The actor had spoken about feeling the urge to commit a racially-motivated murder after a friend of his was raped

The New York premiere of Liam Neeson’s new film has been pulled amid a racism row surrounding his comments about having wanted to commit a racially-motivated murder in the past.

The actor sparked controversy after he said he had once gone walking through the streets with a weapon after a close friend was raped by a black man.

“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?” he said. “So that I could kill him.”

Cold Pursuit, in which Neeson plays snowplow driver Nels Coxman, was due to premiere in New York tonight (February 5). The red carpet part of the event was cancelled hours before it was due to start. However, the film will still be screened as planned.

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson

The Oscar-nominated star has since responded to the uproar around his comments. During an appearance on Good Morning America, he revealed he had sought help from a priest at the time. “Because my friend was brutally raped and I thought I was defending her honour, and I admit that,” he said. “It’s a learning curve.”

He continued: “We all pretend we’re all kind of politically correct. In this country – it’s the same in my own country too – you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry. And it’s there.”

Neeson is currently scheduled to present an award at this years Oscars on February 24. It is unclear whether this controversy will affect that appearance.