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Viggo Mortensen says 'Green Book' criticism was 'based on a load of bulls***'

·Contributor
·2 min read
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Not mincing his words in the least, Viggo Mortensen has said that the criticism of the Oscar-winning movie Green Book was “based on bulls***.”

The 2018 biopic drama found him playing Frank Anthony “Tony Lip” Vallelongo, a New York bouncer who accompanied jazz and classical icon Dr. Don Shirley on a tour of the Midwest and the Deep South in 1962.

The “green book” referenced in the title is the one given to Tony by Shirley's record label, the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” which comprised a list of hotels, motels and restaurants that would accept Black customers.

However, after the movie was released, some members of Shirley's family claimed that he and Tony Lip were not particularly close, and that Shirley considered his chauffeur to be “staff.”

Viggo Mortensen, with co-star Mahershala Ali, says their film Green Book was unfairly criticized. (Photo: Universal)
Viggo Mortensen, with co-star Mahershala Ali, says their film Green Book was unfairly criticized. (Photo: Universal)

The movie also came in for criticism for displaying the much-maligned “white savior” trope.

For his part, director Peter Farrelly said at the time of the movie's release that this was something he was actively trying to avoid.

He told Entertainment Weekly that the movie is “about two guys who were complete opposites and found a common ground, and it's not one guy saving the other. It's both saving each other and pulling each other into some place where they could bond and form a lifetime friendship.”

Speaking in an interview with the Independent, Mortensen said: “Much of the criticism that was leveled at that movie was not only unreasonable, but it was inaccurate, mendacious and irresponsible.

“It’s based on a load of bulls**t and an ax to grind and little else. Does it affect what I’m doing, or how people perceive me as an actor? Maybe it does. But I can’t really do anything about that.”

Mortensen has defended the film, which won three Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Ali. (Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Mortensen has defended the film, which won three Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Ali. (Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Mortensen added: “It’s become a cliché to say, ‘Is this movie going to be the Green Book of this year?’ Green Book has become a pejorative.”

Nonetheless, the movie won a slew of awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.

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