Mahershala Ali's co-star in the racial dramedy Green Book, Viggo Mortensen, has issued an apology after it was revealed on Twitter that he used the N-word on a panel about the film Wednesday.
The Q&A panel took place after the Film Independent Presents screening of the film at Arclight Hollywood.
Mortensen was with Ali and director Peter Farrelly for the panel when he began to speak about racial progress in the country.
“For instance, no one says n**ger anymore,” Mortensen said, per Film Independent member Dick Schulz. He spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday after his tweet began to gain traction.
— Dick W. Schulz (@DickSchulz) November 8, 2018
Schulz told The Hollywood Reporter, "It was all anyone was talking about when we left the theater. I was hearing everybody passing by me going up the stairs going, ‘That was crazy! Why did he say that? You cannot say that!’ And it’s sad because the movie is great. The irony is confounding, to be honest — it’s really shocking, and it was really shocking in the moment."
He explained that it happened during Mortensen using an example during a response to a question toward another panelist. “Viggo just started talking, and it got away from him quickly. He started talking about how, in this climate, the world today, progress isn’t going to happen quickly, it’s going to happen slowly, but the movie is going to mean a lot for a long time because we’re constantly coming up against racism and how racism is almost human nature and these things come in waves. And that’s when he went, ‘I’m gonna go off on a tangent here, but it’s important, and I don’t like saying the word, but, for instance, people don’t say’ — and then he said the N-word in its entirety — ‘anymore,’ and you could just feel the room immediately tense up. And the craziest thing was they had just talked about body language, so I felt like everyone was really attuned to body language, and everyone’s body language on the panel immediately tensed up.”
Mortensen issued an apology to The Hollywood Reporter for their story. "In making the point that many people casually used the ‘N’ word at the time in which the movie’s story takes place, in 1962, I used the full word. Although my intention was to speak strongly against racism, I have no right to even imagine the hurt that is caused by hearing that word in any context, especially from a white man. I do not use the word in private or in public. I am very sorry that I did use the full word last night, and will not utter it again. One of the reasons I accepted the challenge of working on Peter Farrelly’s movie Green Book was to expose ignorance and prejudice in the hope that our movie’s story might help in some way to change people’s views and feelings regarding racial issues. It is a beautiful, profound movie story that I am very proud to be a part of."
Schulz added, “I think that he (Mortensen) immediately regretted it. He went on for I don’t know how long it was — it felt like an eternity after that, because everyone was waiting for the answer to end, but he was trying to steer the ship back to where he was trying to go.” Schulz also said after Mortensen said the word, a woman shouted: "Don’t say that."
Green Book is due in theaters later this month.
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