Viggo Mortensen, the actor best known for playing Aragorn in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, has apologized for using the n-word during a panel for his new film, Green Book.
“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,” the actor said in a statement to theHollywood Reporter. “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.”
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, the film is about an interracial friendship in the Jim Crow era. During the discussion, Mortensen addressed the “racial progress” that had been made over the years since then.
“For instance, no one says n***** anymore,” Mortensen said.
Dick Schulz, a freelance director who was at the event, took to Twitter to report what Mortensen said.
“Was at a screening for #GreenBook — the movie is amazing, but at the Q&A after Viggo Mortensen just dropped the N-word and the oxygen immediately left the room,” he wrote.
In the replies, other people who were allegedly at the panel reported that Mortensen was rambling and that he was trying to make a point that people should not refer to the “n-word’ as the “n-word.”
“I was in the audience too, Viggo was long-winded, rambling, and just dropped the n-word as something that shouldn’t be said as ‘n-word,'” said a Twitter user with the handle Club Chalamet. “Totally unexpected and unnecessary. He talked a lot more in follow up questions. They all were pimping the film hard to a voting audience.”
— Shadow and Act (@shadowandact) November 9, 2018
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Schulz said that many of the panel attendees were amazed that Mortensen uttered the racial slur.
“It was all anyone was talking about when we left the theater,” he said, before adding that the actor’s comments did a disservice to the movie. He also revealed that a woman in the audience said “don’t say that,” when the actor used the n-word.
Green Book stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen as characters who become friends in the Deep South during the 1960s. Ali plays Jamaican American concert pianist Don Shirley, and Mortensen plays his driver, Frank Anthony Vallelonga. Directed by Peter Farrelly, the film flips the classic Driving Miss Daisy narrative on its head. The film’s title is a reference to a book used by African Americans during Jim Crow so that they might avoid racism during road trips.