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Mahershala Ali Says Viggo Mortensen’s Use of the N-Word Was ‘Hurtful,’ but Accepts His Apology

The "Green Book" co-stars have now both spoken out about the incident.

Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortensen


In a new statement, Mahershala Ali has accepted Viggo Mortensen’s apology, but said he was still troubled by his “Green Book” co-star’s use of the n-word at a post-screening Q&A session on Wednesday night. While making a point about the fact that the racial slur is no longer used as casually as it was in 1962, when “Green Book” is set, Mortensen used the full word. He issued an apology yesterday:

“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,” Mortensen said. “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.”

Ali has now responded with a statement of his own. “However well-intended or intellectual the conversation may have been, it wasn’t appropriate for Viggo to say the n-word. He has made it clear to me that he’s aware of this, and apologized profusely immediately following the Q&A with Elvis Mitchell,” the Oscar winner said. “Knowing his intention was to express that removing the n-word from your vocabulary doesn’t necessarily disqualify a person as a racist or participating in actions or thoughts that are bigoted, I can accept and embrace his apology.

“An excellent and poignant thought was unfortunately overshadowed by voicing the word in its fullness. Which for me, is always hurtful. The use of the word within the black community has long been debated, and its usage should continue to be examined within the black community.

“The use of the word by those who aren’t black, is not up for debate. The history of discrimination, slavery, pain, oppression and violence that the word has come to symbolize only causes harm to members of the black community and therefore needs to be left in the past.”

“Green Book,” which was directed by Peter Farrelly and won the Audience Award at TIFF, arrives in theaters next Friday, November 16.

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