Liam Neeson has described the recent surge of sexual misconduct allegations in the entertainment industry as “a bit of a witch-hunt”.
Neeson, who has starred in such films as the Taken series and Schindler’s List, made the remarks during an interview with the Irish broadcaster RTE.
Speaking to the channel’s The Late Late Show, Neeson gave his verdict on the wave of allegations which have hit his industry.
“There is a bit of a witch-hunt happening,” he said. “There’s some people, famous people, who have been suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee, or something, and suddenly they’re being dropped from their programme, or something.”
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Neeson specifically referred to the case of the American radio broadcaster Garrison Keillor, who was fired by Minnesota Public Radio last year over allegations of “inappropriate behaviour with an individual who worked with him”. Neither MPR or Keillor’s accuser have ever publicly disclosed the nature of the allegations.
“I was reading recently about [Keillor], and he was listening to a sad story from a female friend of his,” Neeson recounted. “And at the end of the story, he put his hand to her back to [console her] – and she had a blouse on, so it was her bare back.
“He immediately removed his hand and apologised, and she said: ‘Don’t worry about it, forget about it.’ They then went their separate ways. Later, he emailed her because he was concerned – apparently he has a thing about touching and physical intimacy – and again she said, ‘Don’t worry about it, forget about it’.
“Months later, the radio station gets a call from a lawyer saying that [Keillor] inappropriately touched this lady. And he was dropped like that.”
Asked about the allegations which have been levelled against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, Neeson said he was “on the fence” about some of the allegations surrounding Hoffman in particular.
“When you’re doing a play and you’re with your family – other actors, technicians – you do silly things … and it becomes kind of superstitious, if you don’t do it every night you think it’s going to jinx the show,” he said. “I’m not saying I’ve done similar things to what [Hoffman] apparently did… but it’s childhood stuff.”
Speaking about the wave of allegations and the emergence of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Neeson acknowledged that it was “healthy” for the entertainment industry to face up to the problems which have been laid bare by the scandals.
“There is a movement happening… it’s healthy, and it’s across every industry – the focus seems to be on Hollywood at the minute,” he remarked.
“I’m a proud UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and I get sent facts and figures and stuff. If you’ve read the stuff I’ve read about how female labourers are being treated on farms and ranches, it’s chilling.”
Earlier this week, French actress Catherine Deneuve drew criticism for denouncing the #MeToo movement in an open letter.