Liam Neeson shocked “Atlanta” viewers when he popped up for a cameo appearance during the eighth episode of the show’s fourth season. The episode, titled “New Jazz,” was written by Donald Glover. Neeson appeared as a version of himself sitting at a bar (the napkins for which read “Cancel Club”) that main character Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) strolls into. The two have a brief discussion in which Neeson poked fun at his 2019 racism controversy, in which he told The Independent that he once sought to kill a Black man out of revenge for the rape of his friend.
“You might’ve heard or read about my transgression,” Neeson tells Paper Boi. “You know, what I said about what I wanted to do to a Black guy, any Black guy, when I was a younger man in London. A friend of mine had been raped and I acted out of anger. I look back now and it honestly frightens me. I thought people knowing who I once was would make clear who I am, who I’ve become. But with all that being said, I am sorry. I apologize if I hurt people.”
More from Variety
Paper Boi tells Neeson that he “still fucks with ‘Taken,'” adding, “It’s good to know that you don’t hate Black people now.”
“No, no I can’t stand the lot of you,” Neeson responds in the show. “Well, now I feel that way because you tried to ruin my career. Didn’t succeed, mind you. However, I’m sure one day I will get over it, but until then, we are mortal enemies.”
When Paper Boi asks Neeson if he learned that he can’t say racist stuff like that, Neeson answers, “Aye. But I also learned that the best and worst part of being white is that we don’t have to learn anything if we don’t want to.”
Neeson’s real-life racism controversy occurred during his February 2019 press tour for the film “Cold Pursuit.” The actor revealed that his friend was sexually assaulted and “my immediate reaction was … I asked, did she know who it was? No. What color were they? She said it was a Black person. 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? So that I could, kill him.”
Neeson later told “Good Morning America” that his urge to commit physical violence shocked him, adding, “It hurt me. I did seek help. I went to a priest. … I am not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago.” The actor stressed that he “definitely” would’ve had the same reaction had his friend’s rapist been a white man.
“I was trying to show honor, to stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion,” Neeson said at the time. “I am a fairly intelligent guy. That’s why it kind of shocked me when I came down to earth after having these terrible feelings. Luckily, no violence occurred. I did want to lash out because my friend was brutally raped and I was defending her honor. It was a learning curve.”
Best of Variety