Celebrated actor Viggo Mortensen recently used the N-word during a Q&A and has issued a full apology. The actor is currently promoting his latest movie Green Book, which is seen as an awards season contender. Mortenson appeared with his co-star and recent Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali in Los Angeles earlier this week following a screening to answer some questions and, during the session, he dropped the N-Word. Twitter user Dick W. Schultz recounted the occurrence on Twitter.
"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."
The context in which the word was used is important. According to accounts from the Q&A, Mahershala Ali was asked about the use of hate speech throughout generations. Viggo Mortensen, the 60-year-old actor known best for his work in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also offered his thoughts, using the N-word as an example of a word that isn't commonly used in conversation anymore. Despite the context, the tone of the room is said to have shifted dramatically. Mortensen had this to say in a statement he issued following the incident.
"Last 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."
Green Book comes from director Peter Farrelly, best known for his work on comedies such as Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. This represents a dramatic shift in tone for the successful comedic filmmaker. And, even though Viggo Mortensen has apologized and seems sincere, this certainly isn't doing the movie any favors. The actor also explained why he wanted to join the movie in the first place, stating that he hoped to expose prejudice and help the problem, not add to it.
"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 story might help in some way to change peoples' views and feelings regarding racial issues. It is a beautiful, profound movie story that I am very proud to be a part of."
It's worth mentioning that an executive at Netflix, Jonathan Friedland, was recently fired for using the word while describing offensive words in comedy, only to later repeat the word in front of two African-American employees. Megyn Kelly also revently departed NBC after making on air comments defending the use of blackface in Halloween costumes. It's unclear if this incident will have any effect on the release of Green Book, which is scheduled to arrive in theaters on November 16, or Viggo Mortensen's career in the future. This news was previously reported by People.