Widows star Michelle Rodriguez defended co-star Liam Neeson, insisting he is not racist because of how he kissed on-screen wife, Viola Davis in the film.
“It’s all f—ing bulls—. Liam Neeson is not a racist,” Rodriguez told Vanity Fair at the amfAR Gala New York Wednesday night. “Dude, have you watched Widows? His tongue was so far down Viola Davis’s throat."
The Fast & Furious star continued, "You can’t call him a racist ever. Racists don’t make out with the race that they hate, especially in the way he does with his tongue — so deep down her throat. I don’t care how good of an actor you are. It’s all bulls—. Ignore it. He’s not a racist. He’s a loving man. It’s all lies."
Neeson has been under fire since his interview with The Independent, in which he admitted to wanting to take revenge on a black man for allegedly raping a friend, was published on Monday.
"There's something primal — God forbid you've ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions. I'll tell you a story, this is true," the Cold Pursuit actor said. "She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way. But my immediate reaction was... I asked, did she know who it was? No. 'What color were they?' She said it was a black person."
He continued, "I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I'd be approached by somebody. I'm ashamed to say that -- and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some 'black b—' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could... kill him."
After doing this for almost two weeks, Neeson said he realized what he was thinking was wrong. When I eventually thought, 'What the f— are you doing?'" Neeson told The Independent.
Neeson later appeared on Good Morning America, where he told Robin Roberts he is "not racist."
"If she had said an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian I would — I know I would — have had the same effect. I was trying to show honor, to stand up for my dear friend in this terribly medieval fashion," Neeson insisted, explaining that the incident happened 40 years ago.
"This was nearly 40 years ago, and because I was brought up in the North of Ireland and brought up in the Troubles, the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s, there was a war going on in the North of Ireland, and I had acquaintances who were involved in the Troubles, the bigotry," Neeson told Roberts. "One Catholic would be killed, the next day a Protestant would be killed. One Catholic pub would be bombed and then a Protestant pub bombed. I grew up around that, but was never part of it."
Since the Good Morning America interview, Neeson has stopped doing interviews. He was scheduled to appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Friday night to promote Cold Pursuit, but cancelled. The film's New York premiere was also cancelled.
Like Neeson's original comments, Rodriguez's defense of the actor has also sparked a backlash.
"What in the name of sweet and sour chicken is wrong with Michelle Rodriguez," Rewire News' Imani Gandy wrote.
Michelle Rodriguez: liam isnt racist he kissed that black chick in that movie...February 7, 2019
"college was full of drunk, racist white guys angrily trying to shove their tongues down my throat but yeah sure michelle rodriguez," one Twitter user wrote.
"The lack of historical context, bias blindness and willful ignorance required to open one’s mouth and say this about racism is mind boggling," TV producer Shonda Rhimes added.
“His tongue was so far down Viola Davis’s throat. You can’t call him a racist ever"~ Michelle Rodriguez
Her litmus test for racism is a person's ability to kiss a BW, vs their confession to wanting to randomly kill an innocent Black person. Noted//t.co/C1BHEJvTW1— Shanita Hubbard (@msshanitarenee) February 7, 2019
"Michelle Rodriguez doesn't know, or is willfully ignorant, of the long history of racists sexually exploiting & fetishizing black people," director Xazier Burgin wrote. "Even if you take that out, how many times do we have to say loving/f–/being with a black person doesn't stop you from being racist."
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