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Viggo Mortensen Apologizes for Using the N-Word After ‘Green Book’ Screening: ‘I Am Very Sorry’

In a statement given to IndieWire, the actor said: "I am very sorry that I did use the full word last night, and will not utter it again."

Viggo MortensenHollywood Film Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Nov 2018

Viggo Mortensen

Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

Viggo Mortensen has apologized for saying the N-word out loud during a Q&A session after a Wednesday screening of his new movie, “Green Book.” Mortensen and co-star Mahershala Ali appeared in conversation with film critic Elvis Mitchell, during which Mortensen used the word to make a point about progress.

In a statement given to IndieWire through a representative, Mortensen said: “In making the point that many people casually used the ‘N’ word at the time in which the movie 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.”

Directed by Peter Farrelly, “Green Book” takes place in the Deep South during the 1960s. It tells the true story of Jamaican-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Ali) and his white driver Tony Lip (Mortensen), who forge a friendship on a multi-city tour. Universal Pictures will release “Green Book” in theaters on November 16.

“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 story might help in some way to change peoples’ views and feelings regarding racial issues,” Mortensen concluded.

“Green Book” won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, making it an instant Oscar frontrunner. It is unclear how Wednesday’s incident will affect the movie’s Oscar chances.

As one audience member observed: “At the Q&A after Viggo Mortensen just dropped the N Word and the oxygen immediately left the room.”

Read Mortensen’s full statement below.

Last night I participated in a Q&A session moderated by Elvis Mitchell following a screening of ‘Green Book’ in Los Angeles. In making the point that many people casually used the “N” word at the time in which the movie 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 story might help in some way to change peoples’ views and feelings regarding racial issues. It is a beautiful, profound movie story that I am very proud to be a part of.

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