As previously reported, Neeson told a UK newspaper that decades ago he walked the streets with a “cosh” multiple times, hoping any black person would start trouble with him. This was after he learned that a friend had been raped by a black man; with the actor describing his a “primal urge” for revenge. He described his attitude at the time as “awful”, and the remarks have sparked a huge international discussion on racism. Now, moviegoers are threatening to boycott Men In Black International unless he is taken out of it.
Men In Black: International – which also stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson – is due out this summer.
It sees Neeson playing High T, the head of the UK arm of MIB. The role is so prominent that he is featured on the poster; and he was also seen briefly in the first trailer.
“I really hope it’s not too late to digitally erase that racist f**k Liam Neeson from the new Men In Black movie,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another quipped: “You can literally hear Liam Neeson evaporating from all the upcoming Men in Black International marketing.”
Joking about Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey in All The Money In The World in the wake of the latter being accused of shocking sex abuse, a third person wrote: “I guess Sony pictures will soon be hiring Christopher Plummer to replace Liam Neeson in the upcoming Men In Black reboot. #LiamNeeson.”
Someone else posted: “Was really excited for Men in Black: International with @chrishemsworth & @TessaThompson_x. Was 1 of my most anticapated films for 2019. Hated his casting before the horrifying controversy, but now really hope it’s not too late to digitally erase racist f**k Liam Neeson from it..”
Yet another tweet reads: “please free tessa thompson from having to do the men in black press tour with neeson I swear if any of you journalists ask her questions about it like it’s her responsibility to comment…”
For now, Neeson’s next movie is Cold Pursuit – out later this month in the UK, and this coming weekend in the US.
The red carpet aspect of the film’s premiere was cancelled last night in New York City, hours after he appeared on Good Morning America in a bid to clarify his remarks.
He told Robin Roberts: “There were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in this city, looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence. I did it for maybe four or five times.
“It really shocked me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me and it hurt me.
“I did seek help. I went to a priest. I had two very good friends I talked to, and believe it or not — power walking — to get rid of this.”
He said the incident happened many decades ago.