An award-winning author has defended Liam Neeson over his controversial rape revenge comments, saying the Hollywood star is being 'demonised'. Booker
An award-winning author has defended Liam Neeson over his controversial rape revenge comments, saying the Hollywood star is being ‘demonised’.
Booker Prize-winner, John Banville, who the actor is set to work with on an adaptation of one of his books, said he is a ‘decent man’ who was ‘ashamed’ of his thoughts.
Neeson has sparked outrage by saying he once had violent thoughts about killing a black man and roamed the streets armed with cosh to ‘kill a black b******’.
The actor, 66, is set to play fictional private detective, Philip Marlowe, in a film being adapted from best-selling writer Banville’s novel, The Black-Eyed Blonde.
The Black-Eyed Blonde is a sequel book to Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe detective series, first published in The Big Sleep in 1939.
Philip Marlowe has previously played by Hollywood greats such as Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, James Caan and James Garner.
Banville, who publishes his crime novels under the pen name Benjamin Black, asked, ‘Does no-one listen any more?’, as he defended the Northern Irish star.
Author John Banville said Liam Neeson is a ‘decent man’ who was being ‘demonised’ for his controversial race comments
The Irish writer, whose novel The Sea won the Man Booker Prize in 2005, said: ‘Liam Neeson was delivering a cautionary tale.
‘His point was that we must resist our primitive urges – and we all have primitive urges – and that his week, long ago, of plotting revenge for a specific outrage by doing violence to a person at random was something he was and is ashamed of.
‘Liam Neeson is a decent man and does not deserve to be demonised in this way.’
Banville was commissioned by the Raymond Chandler Estate to pen the Philip Marlowe novel The Black-Eyed Blonde.
Liam Neeson was a guest on Good Morning America yesterday where he said he was not racist
The book was a sequel to Raymond Chandler’s stories featuring the cult detective and is being adapted into the movie, Marlowe.
Banville’s comments come after the red carpet for the premiere of Neeson film Cold Pursuit was abruptly cancelled, just hours before the event was supposed to start.
The film opens in the US on Friday and later in the UK.
Earlier, Neeson had appeared on Good Morning America to address his comments, saying he was not a racist.
He said he was compelled by a ‘primal’ and ‘medieval’ desire for revenge when he had violent thoughts about killing a black person after a woman close to him was raped.
The Hollywood star provoked widespread criticism after he told The Independent that he had walked the streets armed with a cosh, hoping he would be approached by someone ‘so that I could kill him’ after his friend said she was raped by a black man.
Discussing his controversial remarks on Good Morning America, he said: ‘I had never felt this feeling before, which was a primal urge to lash out.
‘After that there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city, looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence.
‘I did it four, maybe four or five times, until I caught myself and it really shocked me, this primal urge. It was shocking.
‘It shocked me and it hurt me… I did seek help, I went to a priest.’
Neeson appeared on Good Morning America in New York just hours after the interview caused uproar to say he was not racist.
Liam Neeson arriving at Good Morning America in New York City for an interview yesterday
Liam Neeson on Live with Kelly and Ryan, shaking hands with a black audience member as he took part in two interviews in New York after his controversial comments
The star, who was later hugged and kissed by black audience members on the Live with Kelly and Ryan show, then said he had gone to church when he became ‘scared’ and realised he had wanted to ‘unleash’ murder on a stranger.
Black England football legend John Barnes defended Neeson, saying he ‘deserves a medal’ for honesty.
Appearing on Sky News yesterday, Barnes said Neeson was not to blame his thoughts around 40 years ago, blaming society’s for his attitude at the time.
The former Liverpool midfielder has previous spoken out on the lack of black managers in football and in 2015 said he would have found it easier to get a managerial job if he was white.
But Piers Morgan criticised Barnes for his reactions to Neeson’s comments.
The GMB presenter said: ‘I’m amazed that a very high profile, anti-racism campaigner like John Barnes would defend him.’
Writing for the MailOnline, Morgan said he found the Taken star’s admission that he was ashamed as ‘disingenuous’.
Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby with ex-footballer John Barnes on This Morning today
He wrote: ‘Why was your first question to your friend about the rapist’s identity “what colour was he?” rather than “what accent did he have?”.
‘No, you only cared about the man’s colour, and once you established he was black, you promptly sought horrific murderous vengeance on all black people.’
In his interview with the Independent Neeson said: ‘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 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 pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could… kill him.’
Some social media users also called for scenes in the new Men in Black International movie featuring Neeson to be cut from the final edit of the film.