“I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

And with those words Liam Neeson began one of the most shocking admissions we’ve ever heard an actor make — and during a movie press junket!

The Irish action star was giving an interview with The Independent about his new revenge-themed film Cold Pursuit alongside costar Tom Bateman when he delved into his own history with revenge — and racism!

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He began trying to explain how he related to his character’s need for revenge after a family member had been hurt, saying:

“There’s something primal — God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions…”

Then he just decided to let it out.

“I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

Neeson recounted a time many years ago when he returned home to Ireland after being abroad — and found out someone close to him had been raped. He recalled:

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way… But my immediate reaction was… [pause] I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

I went up and down areas with a cosh [a big stick], hoping I’d be approached by somebody. I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week — hoping some [makes air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.

It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’

It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”

Wow. Young Liam Neeson was a violent, racist hothead! And he’s lucky he didn’t find someone to fight! He could have killed someone!

Um, and also go see Cold Pursuit next week or whatever?

His costar was as flummoxed as the rest of us, saying simply:

“Holy s**t.”

Neeson continued:

“It’s awful… But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the f**k are you doing,’ you know?”

Uh, yeah. We know. WTF is what we were thinking.

The 66-year-old then gave a little more context to the story, explaining the pervasive violence and anger of the time in his home country:

“I come from a society — I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles — and, you know, I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that. All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. But that primal need, I understand.”

Oof.

On the one hand, the Taken star was explaining something he did, or almost did, many years ago. He described his intentions as “horrible” and “awful.”

But admitting to having been racist, and more than that, to wanting to commit a hate crime, triggered a deluge of backlash on Twitter:

A lot of people are feeling very hurt and angry by this admission, and understandably so. Consequences of past behavior can still live on.

So, do YOU think Liam Neeson needs to be canceled? Or are people capable of being awful but then learning from it and becoming doers of good?

After all, racism isn’t something you’re born with. It’s learned behavior. And it isn’t incurable. It can be overcome with empathy and education. Or is something of this nature just not forgivable in your eyes?

Tell us what YOU think, Perezcious readers!

[Image via Ivan Nikolov/WENN.]