Michelle Rodriguez is walking back her bizarre defense of actor Liam Neeson, backtracking on comments that the Irish actor could not be racist because of the way he kissed Viola Davis on screen.
Neeson found himself in a major controversy while promoting the movie, Cold Pursuit, when he revealed that a close friend had been raped by a black man and that it led him to consider committing violence against other black men in revenge. The controversy led Lionsgate to scrap the red carpet premiere of the film and has prompted many in Hollywood to speak out against the actor, but it also brought a strange defense from Rodriguez.
The American actress and co-star of Cold Pursuit said she didn’t see how Liam Neeson could be racist because he shared a passionate on-screen kiss with black actress Viola Davis in the movie Widows.
“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,” Rodriguez said in an article published by Vanity Fair.
This led to a backlash against Rodriguez, with many pointing out that one on-screen kiss didn’t negate the feelings Neeson expressed toward black men. One person pointed out on Twitter that slave owners routinely raped black women and that it didn’t absolve them of their racism. The user went on to say that Michelle’s defense of Liam Neeson was insulting.
Others said her defense was downplaying the very serious issue that Neeson’s comments raised with regard to racism and how many can blame an entire race of people for the actions of a single person. Many in Hollywood said the soft backlash against Neeson also showed the double standards for white men in Hollywood, noting that an actor of color would have seen much more of a backlash for similar comments.
— Midwin Charles (@MidwinCharles) February 7, 2019
Michelle Rodriguez has apparently heeded the criticism and over the weekend issued a statement backtracking from her support of Neeson. The actress took to Instagram to say she was “insensitive” in her words of defense for her co-star.
“To my friend and colleagues and my fans and community: I want to deep apologize for my recent choice of words, and poor use of example. In a pressure-filled situation, I defended a friend in the wrong way,” she wrote.
Michelle Rodriguez added that she now saw how insensitive her remarks were and said she had no intention of invoking a “terrible historical comparison.”