Premiere of new Liam Neeson film cancelled amid outrage

The New York premiere of Liam Neeson's new movie has been cancelled after outrage over his controversial "revenge" statement.

The actor stands by the revelation he made in a now infamous interview with The Independent that he once set out to kill a black man in retaliation for the rape of a friend.

His new film Cold Pursuit is the story of a father seeking retribution, but the race row caused by Neeson's real-life temptation to exact revenge against the black community has forced Lionsgate Films to effectively cancel Tuesday night's premiere in New York.

Earlier on Tuesday he appeared on ABC's Good Morning America to discuss his controversial comments.

"I'd never felt this feeling before, which was a primal urge to lash out," he said.

"I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence."

He says his reaction wasn't caused by prejudice but his upbringing in Northern Ireland in the 1970s in which violence between Catholics and Protestants was constant.

"I'm not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago - I grew up surrounded by [bigotry]."

When asked if he'd have reacted the same way had the rapist been described as white, Neeson said he "definitely" would have.

"If she'd have said an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian, I know it would have had the same effect."

The 65-year-old has built a career out of playing moral heroes seeking to right a wrong, often using extreme violence to do so.

"We all pretend we're politically correct. But in [the USA] and in my own country too, you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry. And it's there."

Tuesday evening's premiere of Cold Pursuit will be a private screening rather than a red carpet event as the fallout from his comments continues.

Some have defended the actor, including former footballer John Barnes.

"He's not saying that he thought that now, and I know that people think that now. But he's not saying that he thinks that now. He's saying he thought about it for one week when he was in a rage about his friend being raped, and then after that he realised that he was wrong."

Entertainment Correspondent Sam Rubin spoke to The AM Show.

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