Belfast Telegraph

'No bad' in my friend Liam Neeson, says film producer Puttnam

By Mark McConville

People were “embarrassingly” quick to judge Liam Neeson following the controversial confession that sparked a race row, a film producer has said.

Defending the Northern Ireland star, Lord David Puttnam also called Neeson a “good man, a decent man” who has “no bad” in him.

Neeson sparked a global debate in February after he disclosed to a journalist that he had once walked the streets armed with a cosh, hoping he would be approached by “a black b******” so that he could kill him.

The Ballymena-born actor revealed while promoting one of his films, the revenge thriller Cold Pursuit, that he was seeking revenge for the rape of a female friend.

Lord Puttnam, who has produced award-winning films such as The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and Bugsy Malone, insisted the 66-year-old Hollywood A-lister, who can be currently seen in the cinema starring in Men in Black: International, was subjected to rushed judgment following the publication of the interview.

Speaking on the latest episode of the University College Cork podcast Plain Speaking, Lord Puttnam explained: “He’s a good man, a decent man. There’s no bad in Liam.

“Did he lose his temper? Possibly. Has he lived a very privileged lifestyle for quite a long time? Does that put you into a slight bubble? Maybe, but this is not a bad man.”

He added: “The idea that suddenly Liam Neeson has turned out to be someone different from the person we thought he was, or someone less empathetic than the person we thought he was, is stupid.

“Liam was a boxer. He does know how to handle himself. He comes from a pretty tough background, but is he a decent man? Absolutely.

“Have we been quick to rush to judgment? Totally and embarrassingly, I think.”

The respected film-maker is the latest of a number of high-profile industry figures to come to the star’s defence, including Northern Ireland actor Stephen Rea, Fast and Furious actress Michelle Rodriguez, Whoopi Goldberg and Oscar-winner Ralph Fiennes.

Neeson has apologised twice since his revelation, acknowledging that his comments were “hurtful and divisive”.

He also stressed the episode did not “reflect, in any way, my true feelings, nor me”.

Last summer the actor was back in Northern Ireland to shoot his forthcoming film, Normal People, alongside co-star Lesley Manville.

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