Entertainment & Arts

Liam Neeson replaced as US chat show guest

Liam Neeson and Stephen Colbert Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Neeson had been due to chat to Stephen Colbert (right) on Friday

Liam Neeson has cancelled an appearance on a US talk show as controversy over his rape revenge comments continues.

The 66-year-old actor was due to appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday night, according to listings published earlier this week.

Now, though, the show's website has Glenn Close as Friday's sole guest.

Debate is raging over the Taken star's admission in an interview with The Independent that he once wanted to kill a random black man.

In the interview, Neeson revealed that discovering someone close to him had been raped many years ago by a black man had made him want to take out his anger on a random black person.

The actor said he did not go through with any violence and expressed regret that he had reacted in such a "horrible" way.

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Media captionListen to Liam Neeson's comments that sparked the outrage

Neeson denied he was racist during a subsequent US TV appearance on Tuesday, attributing his behaviour to "a primal urge to lash out".

"I was trying to show honour, to stand up for my dear friend in this terribly medieval fashion," he told ABC's Good Morning America.

Later that day the red carpet for the New York premiere of his latest action thriller Cold Pursuit was cancelled, though the screening itself went ahead.

Singer Lily Allen joined the chorus of disapproval on Tuesday by dedicating her track [Expletive] You to the actor while performing in Sydney.

"Usually I dedicate this next song to Donald Trump, but today I feel more disgusted by Liam Neeson so this song is dedicated to him," she told her fans.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lily Allen and Whoopi Goldberg have expressed differing opinions

Yet other celebrities have been more sympathetic to the star, among them comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg.

"Is he a bigot? No," she said on Wednesday's edition on US talk show The View. "I've known him a pretty long time, I think I would have recognised."

Ronn Torossian, a "crisis management mogul" with New York-based PR firm 5W Public Relations, believes Neeson can still "save his image" provided he gives further displays of contrition.

"He needs to continue to apologise and outright say that he made a mistake, rather than trying to defend his words or bring in more context," he told the BBC.

A number of social media users are now demanding Neeson be cut out of the upcoming Men in Black International, in which he is due to appear alongside Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

Image copyright Sony Pictures
Image caption Neeson's next role is in Men in Black International alongside Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth

Yet others have taken a lighter view, with several Twitter users suggesting Neeson's next film should be called Taken Out of Context.

"I have a very particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquired over a very long career," tweeted David Baddiel, referring to the famous speech Neeson delivered in the original Taken.

"Turns out these don't include knowing what is and isn't stuff to say in an interview."

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