Liam Neeson has told the US talk show Good Morning America that he is not racist, following the outcry about revelations he made in a recent interview while promoting his new film.

During an interview with the Independent UK to promote Cold Pursuit, Neeson had admitted that decades ago he harboured violent thoughts about killing a black man after someone close to him was raped. 

The actor said he had walked the streets armed with a weapon, hoping he would be approached by someone so that he could kill them.

In his live Good Morning America interview on Tuesday, the 66-year-old said: "I'm not racist, this was nearly 40 years ago."

"We were doing a press junket and the topic of our film is revenge, it's a dark comedy too, but its base is revenge. And the lady journalist was asking me, 'How do you tap into that?'. And I remembered an incident nearly 40 years ago where a very dear friend of mine was brutally raped and I was out of the country, and when I came back she told me about this," he explained to Good Morning America's Robin Roberts.

"She handled the situation incredibly bravely. But I had never felt this feeling before, which was a primal urge to lash out."

He added: "After that there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city, looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence.

"I did it for, I'd say, maybe four or five times until I caught myself on. And it really shocked me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me and it hurt me."

Neeson said he had gone to confession following his behaviour and also talked to "two very, very good friends" about how he had reacted. 

In his original interview, Neeson said he was ashamed of his behaviour, describing his actions as "awful" and "horrible". 

When asked by Roberts what he hoped people would learn from the controversy, Neeson replied: "To talk, to open up, to talk about these things.

"We all pretend we're all kind of politically correct. I mean, in this country, it's the same in my own country too, you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry, and it's there."

He then asked Roberts what the "teachable moment" was and she replied: "The one point that I want to make out is this wasn't discovered by somebody: you admitted this. This isn't a 'gotcha'. So I give you credit there, but also having to acknowledge the hurt, even though it happened decades ago. The hurt of an innocent black man knowing he could have been killed for something he did not do, because of the colour of his skin."

Neeson replied: "And they could have killed me too, at the time."

Roberts said the Irish star had to "understand the pain of a black person" from hearing his confession.

"Absolutely, you're absolutely right," he agreed. 

"And at the time, even though this was nearly 40 years ago, I didn't think about that, all those things surprised me. But it was this primal hatred, I guess, that really, really shocked me. When I eventually came down to earth and saw what I was doing: going out looking for a fight."

"Violence breeds violence. Bigotry breeds bigotry," Neeson concluded.