Donald Glover is not afraid to lay bare controversial socio-political commentary. Look no further than his viral video for This Is America. Glover’s comedy-drama series Atlanta has never shied away from tackling significant issues either, routinely dealing with themes of racism and whiteness.
One subject most fans weren’t expecting though, was the recent cameo from Liam Neeson, where he discussed his controversial 2019 comments.
While promoting his then-upcoming movie Cold Pursuit, Neeson admitted to The Independent that he once spent a week patrolling the streets with a blunt weapon, “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 was, in fact, referring to the past event with remorse and explained his behavior was a result of finding out his friend was raped by a black man. That still in no way excused his intentions, and needless to say, the comments didn’t go down well, especially as an eerie echo of the Neeson archetype of a man out for revenge, a role he played once again in Cold Pursuit.
Neeson appeared on Good Morning America to clarify that he was not racist and that he consorted help from a priest at the time. The Irishman’s career was largely unscathed, with him continuing to work on high-profile projects, including Men in Black: International and Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
Liam Neeson in the ‘Cancel Club’
It’s not the first time he’d courted controversy with his remarks, with Neeson also describing the Me Too movement as a ‘witch hunt’ just a year earlier. Some would suggest the 69-year-old belongs in the fabled ‘Cancel Club’ where Brian Tyree Henry’s Paper Boi finds him in the Atlanta episode, New Jazz.
Speaking to Paper Boi, this fictional Neeson remarks on the past event, saying:
“You might’ve heard or read about my transgression — you know what I said about what I wanted to do to a Black guy. Any Black guy, when I was a younger man. A friend of mine had been raped, and I acted out of anger. I look back, man, it honestly frightens me. I thought people, knowing who I once was, [that it would] 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.”
The exchange is mainly sincere but is bizarrely followed by Paper Boi saying that he still “F—- with Taken and that he’s glad Neeson doesn’t hate black people, to which Neeson responds:
“What? No, no, no, I can’t stand the lot of you. Now I feel that way because you tried to ruin my career. Didn’t succeed, mind you. I’m sure one day I’ll get over it, but until then, we are mortal enemies. – The best and worst part about being white is you don’t have to learn anything if you don’t want to.”
The encounter leaves a kind of unsettling taste and fans are sure to be debating it for some time. New Jazz did receive an overwhelmingly positive critical reception, with a 100% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The episode is available for streaming right now on Hulu.
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