Viggo Mortensen apologises for using racial slur during 'Green Book' panel

Sam Ashurst
22nd Hollywood Film Awards – Arrivals – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 04/11/2018 – Actor Viggo Mortensen. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Lord Of The Rings star Viggo Mortensen has apologised for using the n-word during a post-screening Q&A for his new film, Green Book. The Oscar-nominated actor promised he would never use it again.

Mortensen was discussing the race issues at the heart of the film, which is centred around a tour of the Deep South in the 1960s by Jamaican-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and New York bouncer Tony Lip (Mortensen), who served as Shirley’s driver / security.

The film is named after a segregation-era road travel guidebook, ‘The Green Book,’ which was used to help African-Americans navigate racial discrimination issues.

Mortensen used the n-word, in full, while discussing the evolution of race relations in America. The word is only used here in its abbreviated form, with the full usage retaining the power to shock.

FILE PHOTO: Actor Viggo Mortensen attends a news conference to discuss the movie “Green Book” at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

“For instance, no one says n***** anymore,” Mortensen said.

Reports from the event describe the atmosphere in the room instantly changing, with one unnamed women shouting ‘Don’t say that,’ after the word was used.

Mortensen made a statement to The Hollywood Reporter following the event. “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.”

Mortensen continued, “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.”

Green Book isn’t released in the UK until 1 February, 2019, but it has been tipped as an Oscar contender by critics. Mortensen has previously received two best actor Oscar nominations for his roles in Eastern Promises and Captain Fantastic.

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