Journalist opens up about interview with Liam Neeson
The journalist who exposed Liam Neeson’s admission of wanting to kill a black man has released more details of her interview with the actor.
Clemence Michallon, a writer for The Independent, said in an op-ed today, Feb. 7, that she had not expected to receive such a response from Neeson during the press junket for his movie “Cold Pursuit” held three weeks ago in New York. With him was his co-star Tom Bateman.
From her experience of press junkets, she said celebrities rarely share personal stories. “Then, 12 minutes into what turned out to be a 17-minute interview, I asked Neeson a question about his character in ‘Cold Pursuit,’ and as we now know, everything changed.”
Michallon asked, “Liam, your character is, like you said, a normal guy who suddenly – I mean, not suddenly, but, [he] goes on a murder spree. Why do you think that unlike Grace [Neeson’s character’s wife in the film], he’s unable to do the internal work of moving on and taking that distance that she does? Why does he flip a switch?”
“Well for a start, there’d be no story,” Neeson initially answered. Michallon said she and Bateman laughed.
“There’s something… primal about it,” said Neeson, who then went into his story about reacting to a friend’s rape by looking for a black man that he could kill.
“When he started telling me about his friend’s rape, I had no idea where the story was going,” the journalist wrote.
It would be Michallon’s last question in the junket. Neeson told her to be “really careful” about the story and joked that if she was not, “I will find you”—a reference to his character from the movie “Taken” who says, “I will find you and I will kill you.”
She said that in the days that followed, she reached out to Neeson’s team for a follow-up interview, but was denied.
She contacted civil rights organizations and London psychology professor Dr. Lasana Harris to ask about racially motivated crime.
“I explained the situation to Dr. Harris without mentioning Neeson’s name,” she said. “I asked him how someone could come to think the way Neeson did, because I couldn’t fathom reacting in a similar fashion.”
“Dr. Harris explained how our pre-existing biases shape our view of the world. He told me that our human brains are here to help us gain awareness of our thoughts, and that generalizations such as those expressed by Neeson are, of course, fundamentally flawed.”
She also wrote that in her interview and in an appearance on “Good Morning America,” “Neeson thought he was telling a story of atonement. Many have rightfully pointed out the cynicism of seeing a white person praised for publicly admitting to having harbored the desire to commit a racist murder.”
“I have been asked whether I think this interview marks the end of Neeson’s career. That is not my call to make,” she said.
“The future of Neeson’s career rests not in my hands but those of movie-goers and film studios.”
Following the controversial interview, a red carpet event for “Cold Pursuit” was canceled, but the premiere in New York still pushed through. Neeson attended the premiere, Variety reported today, Feb. 7, as well as the after-party at The Skylark, a premier rooftop bar in Manhattan. Niña V. Guno /ra
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