Viggo Mortensen has apologized for using the n-word during a panel discussion of his film Green Book. The panel was attended by his co-star Mahershala Ali, who later said he accepted Mortensen's apology. After Mortensen's initial comment was met with surprise and criticism, he issued this statement:
[Wednesday] 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.
As Variety noted, Viggo Mortensen had used the n-word as an example of speech that's no longer common. The context is tied to his film Green Book, which is set in the Deep South in the 1960s. Mahershala Ali plays Jamaican-American pianist Don Shirley, with Mortensen as a mob enforcer serving as the world class pianist's security.
No one appears to be questioning Viggo Mortensen's intention, but he now regrets his choice of words during the ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood screening.
So while Mahershala Ali is not happy with his co-star's word choice, he is also not willing to let this moment distract from the film and the intended message. Ali shared his own statement, accepting Viggo Mortensen's apology, while making it clear the use of the full n-word was "hurtful" and wrong:
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. 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.
Mahershala Ali continued (via Variety) by saying the use of the full n-word within the black community is already debated, and its usage should continue to be examined within the black community.
Mahershala Ali already has an Oscar for Moonlight, and he could win again for Green Book. Viggo Mortensen currently has two Academy Award nominations under his belt for Eastern Promises and Captain Fantastic. Green Book will expand its release in theaters November 21. Here's the full 2018 fall movie release schedule.