Why Do People Hate Liam Neeson?

Liam Neeson is an acclaimed Irish actor known for his work in films like Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, and the Taken franchise. However, in recent years, Neeson has faced backlash for controversial comments he made during a 2019 interview.

This has led some people to view Neeson negatively. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why some people have grown to dislike Liam Neeson.

Background on Liam Neeson

  • Born in Northern Ireland in 1952
  • Rose to fame in critically acclaimed dramas like Schindler’s List
  • Has starred in numerous popular action films like the Taken series
  • Considered one of Ireland’s top acting talents and a highly bankable Hollywood star
  • Provoked controversy in 2019 after revealing a racist revenge fantasy during an interview

Notable Liam Neeson Movies

Schindler’s List1993Oskar Schindler
Michael Collins1996Michael Collins
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace1999Qui-Gon Jinn
Gangs of New York2002Priest Vallon
Batman Begins2005Ra’s al Ghul
Taken2008Bryan Mills

The 2019 Interview Controversy

In February 2019, Liam Neeson gave an interview to The Independent while promoting his new movie Cold Pursuit. During the interview, Neeson confessed that decades earlier, after a female friend said she had been raped by a black man, Neeson walked the streets hoping to provoke a black person into a fight so that he could kill them.

Neeson’s admission caused immediate backlash and outrage on social media and in the press. Many accused Neeson of racism, double standards, and promoting violence.

Neeson later apologized for his words on Good Morning America, saying he was “not racist” and that he had learned from the painful experience. But for some, the damage had already been done.

Key Points of Controversy

  • Neeson admitted to wanting to provoke violence against a random black person decades earlier
  • His comments were seen as racist by many people
  • Social media erupted in outrage at Neeson’s remarks
  • He apologized but some felt the apology was not sincere enough

Reasons for the Backlash Against Neeson

In the aftermath of Neeson’s controversial interview, a considerable amount of backlash and criticism has been directed at the actor. There are several reasons why people reacted so strongly against Neeson’s comments:

Racial Double Standard

Many pointed out that Neeson was essentially admitting to wanting to commit a racist hate crime against an innocent person solely based on the color of their skin. His desire for revenge against an entire race of people based on one person’s actions struck many as an egregious double standard.

Promoting Violence and Racism

Critics of Neeson argued that a famous actor openly confessing to wanting to carry out an act of racial violence could potentially encourage or validate others who might have similar racist urges. This was seen as reckless and irresponsible on Neeson’s part.

Lack of Genuine Atonement

Some felt Neeson’s apology did not go far enough in expressing true remorse for what he had admitted to doing. Saying he was “not racist” also rang hollow to critics, who thought he should have more fully owned up to the racism of his past behavior.


There was a sense of hypocrisy that a man who had starred in films highlighting injustice and bigotry like Schindler’s List harbored such racist feelings in the past and was now able to admit it without lasting consequences.

Career Damage Control

Other skeptics felt Neeson’s apology was motivated more by career damage control than a genuine desire to make amends, pointing out that it came just as he was starting a press tour for a new movie.

Ongoing Effects on Neeson’s Career and Reputation

Ever since the controversial interview in 2019, Liam Neeson’s career and public image seem to have taken a considerable hit. Here are some of the noticeable effects:

  • Box office returns for Cold Pursuit disappointing despite decent reviews
  • Canceled red carpet event for Cold Pursuit premiere
  • Future projects postponed or canceled
  • Rarely appears on late night or daytime talk shows now
  • Gets asked about race controversy in almost every interview
  • Subject of occasional boycott calls on social media
  • No longer seen as an uncontroversial box office draw for studios
  • Reputation as a principled actor has diminished

While Neeson still works consistently, the backlash appears to have permanently impacted his standing. He’s now seen as a more divisive figure both inside and outside of Hollywood.

Neeson’s Response to the Backlash

Since the controversial interview in 2019, Liam Neeson has given a few interviews where he discussed people’s reactions and responded to being labeled a racist. Here are some of his main points:

  • Denies being a racist and says he made the confession to highlight how destructive the desire for revenge can be.
  • Apologized repeatedly and says he learned from his past “awful” behavior.
  • Admitted he understands the hurt his words caused but feels the backlash went too far.
  • Emphasized the incident happened decades ago when attitudes were different.
  • Expressed frustration that the controversy has become a “clamp” on his career.
  • Says the lesson for him is to keep his mouth shut on sensitive issues.

Neeson seems to feel the backlash unfairly branded him in a way that doesn’t convey the full context or complexities of what happened. But he understands his words impacted people deeply.

Key Questions about the Neeson Controversy

The backlash against Liam Neeson has raised a lot of questions about racism, accountability, and career damage. Here are 5 frequently asked questions:

Should Neeson have been “canceled” for his admission?

There are arguments on both sides. Some believe public figures should face consequences for racist words/acts. Others fear “cancel culture” goes too far. There’s no consensus on whether Neeson deserved to lose jobs over this.

Is Neeson still able to attract audiences to his films?

It’s unclear if Neeson can still draw audiences long-term. His name doesn’t guarantee box office success like before. But he still has many fans who separate his work from his controversial statements.

Does the passage of time make a difference in how we see the incident?

Neeson made the admission about behavior from decades ago. Many argue we should judge it by modern standards; others point out attitudes were different then. The time elapsed divides opinion on his accountability.

Were Neeson’s comments taken out of context or misunderstood?

Neeson claims the backlash distorted what he was trying to admit and caution about revenge. But for many, the racist context was clear, regardless of his intentions. There’s disagreement over whether his words were misconstrued.

Can Neeson recover his reputation after this controversy?

It’s possible but uncertain if Neeson can fully distance himself now from the backlash. He still has defenders, but the 2019 interview permanently colored public perception of him. Only time will tell if he can move past it.


Liam Neeson’s startling admission of racist revenge thoughts in a 2019 interview caused considerable outrage and backlash against the prominent actor. While Neeson offered apologies, many felt his troubling comments revealed hypocrisy and promoted violence.

As a result, Neeson is now viewed as a more divisive figure, and his career may suffer permanent damage. The controversy illustrates how words have consequences, even decades later.

It remains to be seen if Neeson can ever fully redeem himself in the eyes of the public. But the debate over his words and accountability will likely continue for some time.

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