Liam Neeson says he was shocked by his "primal urge" to attack a black man as revenge for his friend being raped nearly 40 years ago.

The actor caused controversy on Monday when he was quoting saying that he walked the streets "hoping some black b****** would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something" in order to exact revenge.

On Tuesday Neeson appeared on ABC's Good Morning Americato discuss his comments on the matter. He said his reaction would have been the same, regardless of the colour of the person's skin.

"I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urged to lash out, I asked her did you know the person? 'It was a man. No.' His race? She said he was a black man. I said 'OK'.

"After that there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon, so I could unleash physical violence and I did it maybe four or five times before I caught myself."

Neeson says he later realised how shocking his actions were and sought help and put and end to his search for retribution.

"It really shocked me this primal urge I had, it shocked me and it hurt me. I did seek help; I went to a priest and made my confession - I was reared a Catholic.

"I had two very good friends I talked to and believe it or not power walking, two hours every day, to get rid of this."

Liam Neeson has attempted to clarify his comments. Credit: PA

The Northern Irish actor denied being a racist in the interview, explaining how he was brought up during The Troubles in the country of his birth.

"I am not racist, this was nearly 40 years ago. I was brought up in the north of Ireland and brought up in 'The Troubles', the 60s, 70s and early 80s."

Neeson clarified he asked about his friend for a greater description of the culprit, rather than just the colour of his skin, as the original interview only stated that he ascertained he was black.

Questioned when he discussed the attackers height and age: "I asked all those questions, too, I did. But I did ask about race."

Presenter Robin Roberts asked if he would have reacted the same if the culprit was from a different demographic, Neeson said: "Oh definitely, if she said Irish, Scot, Brit or Lithuanian, I know I would have felt the same effect.

"I was trying to show honour, stand up for my dear friend in this terrible, medieval fashion. I am a fairly intelligent guy and it kind of shocked me when I came down to earth. Luckily, no violence occurred."