I was disturbed by Liam Neeson's comments, says Steve McQueen

The film-maker directed the Northern Irish actor in Widows last year.

Film-maker Steve McQueen has said he was “disturbed” by Liam Neeson’s rape revenge comments.

The actor, who starred in McQueen’s film Widows last year, attracted widespread criticism for comments over decades-old thoughts he had about killing a black person.

McQueen told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “My reaction was I was disturbed, I was upset and finally I was just disappointed.”

Asked if he had told the actor, the 12 Years A Slave director said: “Well, he knows now.”

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson (Laura Hutton/PA)

The Oscar-winning film-maker added: “You never know what’s in people’s minds. You just never know.”

Neeson said he was compelled by a “primal” and “medieval” desire for revenge when he had violent thoughts about killing a black person after someone close to him was raped.

Asked whether “that’s not really primeval if race is involved, that’s …  a learned behaviour and therefore something very uncomfortable indeed”, McQueen replied: “I just find racism very funny and very stupid and very silly.

“It’s absurd. I don’t even know how to answer that question, if you have to get stupid to answer that question I would rather keep my intelligence if possible.”

To those who defended Neeson, McQueen said: “Can you identify a racist by looking at them? Neither can I.”

Fans on Twitter have called for a boycott of Neeson’s films as a result of the comments, though some, including former footballer John Barnes and author John Banville, have defended him.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: