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Red carpet for premiere of Liam Neeson's new movie canceled in wake of his controversial comments

Liam Neeson talks to Robin Roberts on "Good

Liam Neeson talks to Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America"  on Tuesday. Credit: ABC / Lorenzo Bevilaqua

The red carpet for the premiere of Liam Neeson's latest film was canceled Tuesday, a day after a British newspaper published an interview in which the actor discussed wanting to kill a random black person nearly 40 years ago when a close friend told him she had been raped by a black man, reports The Associated Press.

The cancellation came hours after Neeson, 66, appeared on "Good Morning America" to address his comments, telling interviewer Robin Roberts that he is not racist.

"I did seek help," Neeson told Roberts, saying he spoke with friends and "went to a priest [who] heard my confession." 

When Roberts asked if his reaction would have been the same if the woman, who he said died five years ago, had described a white male, Neeson asserted, "Oh, definitely. If she'd have said an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian … [it] would've had the same effect. I was trying to show honor … [and] stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion. And I'm a fairly intelligent guy and that's why it kind of shocked me when I came down to earth after having these terrible feelings. Luckily no violence occurred, ever, thanks be to God." He noted that even had he encountered someone, "They could have killed me, too."

The "Schindler's List" Oscar nominee, whose new movie "Cold Pursuit" is a revenge-driven action film, had generated widespread social-media condemnation after voluntarily describing the racist incident. Some commenters have credited him for his acknowledgment and disavowal of his past racism.

"Violence breeds violence, bigotry breeds bigotry," Neeson told Roberts, noting that in the aftermath of that 1970s incident he had begun "a learning curve."

Neeson has no social media accounts and has not commented further.

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