Cold Pursuit: Director Hans Petter Moland Defends Star Liam Neeson

In Berlin Film Fest to promote his new film, Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland said that Liam Neeson is “not a racist” in response to the recent controversy about comments made by the star of Moland’s Lionsgate thriller Cold Pursuit.

“He is a very honest, very decent, grounded man,” Moland said at a press conference for “Out Stealing Horses,” his new drama starring Stellan Skarsgard, which premieres Saturday in competition at the Berlin Film Fest.

Moland said that people who had not seen “Cold Pursuit” but who have been upset by Neeson’s comments are “commenting on the movie in derogatory ways, lumping it together with something that has nothing to do with it. It’s taking my voice away.”

While promoting “Cold Pursuit,” Neeson had told Britain’s Independent newspaper last week that, 40 years ago, upon hearing that a friend was allegedly raped by a black attacker, he wanted to “unleash physical violence” and walked the streets hoping to kill some “black bastard.”

In the wake of his remarks, Tuesday’s red carpet at the New York premiere of Moland’s revenge drama was canceled just hours before the event.

Actor Skarsgard said: “I find it disturbing and frightening to live in a world where people get punished not only for their deeds, but they get punished also for what you say. You can get punished for what you think. But most of all you get punished for what people think you think.”

Moland said audiences should read Neeson’s quotes in context rather than “listening to all the Twitterati.”

He elaborated: “I made a film about the futility of revenge. It makes fun of all the gangster stereotypes, all of the other kinds of stereotypes you can think of. It’s a cautionary tale about revenge, and I’d like people to see it for that.”

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