Trevor Noah said the reaction to Liam Neeson’s remark that he once looked to avenge a friend’s rape by attacking a black man on the streets would’ve been different if the actor had made his admission on Oprah Winfrey’s show.
The “Daily Show” host, in a clip posted to the show’s Twitter account on Friday, told his audience the fallout was exacerbated by how and where Neeson told the story.
“I think if Liam Neeson had told that story on ‘Oprah,’ and there was like a conversation, we would’ve seen as a person admitting to a time in their life when they allowed their anger and hatred to fester into a racism that they’re ashamed of,” Noah said.
Neeson, in an interview with The Independent earlier in the week, said he “went up and down areas with a cosh [bludgeon], hoping I’d be approached by somebody,” after a friend was raped decades ago. “I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week — hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘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’s made the comment while promoting “Cold Pursuit,” his new revenge film. The actor was skewered for the remark immediately afterwards, later going on “Good Morning America” and saying he’s “not racist.
Noah, in his measured between-scenes comments, said he understands why Neeson would say that, but it was nonetheless a “racist” thought. Noah did commend Neeson, though, for his “powerful admission,” and added the situation offered a valuable lesson.
“I think it was cool that he said he looked for help afterwards. I think it was cool that no one busted him, he volunteered the information. I think it was great that he was ashamed,” Noah said. “For me, that’s the world I want to live in. I want to live in a world where a person who says something like that is ashamed of it, and they’re telling it to you. Not you’re catching them out.”
You can watch Noah’s full breakdown of the situation in the clip below:
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 8, 2019