Viggo Mortensen apologizes after using N-word during panel discussion

Viggo Mortensen was talking about race in America as his upcoming movie 'Green Book' is about the interracial friendship between a black musician and his white bouncer in the 1960s


                            Viggo Mortensen apologizes after using N-word during panel discussion

Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen used the N-word during a panel discussion about his new movie 'Green Book' and later apologized for the same promising, "I will not utter it again," reported The Hollywood Reporter. 

This incident took on Wednesday following a Film Independent Presents screening at the Arclight Hollywood, when Mortensen was talking about race in America as his movie 'Green Book' is about the interracial friendship between a black musician and his white bouncer in the 1960s.  

Dick Schulz, a member of Film Independent who was present at the discussion, tweeted about the incident and was supported by many others who claimed to have been at the panel discussion.



 

However, Mortensen later apologized and said, "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," in a statement to THR.

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."

According to THR, Mortensen's co-star in the film Mahershala Ali, who was seated next to him during the panel discussion, said, "However well-intended or intellectual the conversation may have been, it wasn’t appropriate for Viggo to say the n-word."



 

Ali added, "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. The use of the word within the black community has long been debated, and its usage should continue to be examined within the black community. The use of the word by those who aren’t black, is not up for debate. The history of discrimination, slavery, pain, oppression, and violence that the word has come to symbolize only causes harm to members of the black community and therefore needs to be left in the past," told Ali.

While describing the audience's reaction to THR, Schulz said, "It was all anyone was talking about when we left the theater. I was hearing everybody passing by me going up the stairs going, ‘That was crazy! Why did he say that? You cannot say that!’ And it’s sad because the movie is great.” He added, “The irony is confounding, to be honest — it’s really shocking, and it was really shocking in the moment."



 

Schulz told in the report that the troublesome part of the Q and A happened after it had begun and Mortensen responded to a question that had been directed to one of the other panelists. Schulz said, "Viggo just started talking, and it got away from him quickly,” Schulz said.

“He started talking about how, in this climate, the world today, progress isn’t going to happen quickly, it’s going to happen slowly, but the movie is going to mean a lot for a long time because we’re constantly coming up against racism and how racism is almost human nature and these things come in waves. And that’s when he went, ‘I’m gonna go off on a tangent here, but it’s important, and I don’t like saying the word, but, for instance, people don’t say’ — and then he said the N-word in its entirety — ‘anymore,’ and you could just feel the room immediately tense up. And the craziest thing was they had just talked about body language, so I felt like everyone was really attuned to body language, and everyone’s body language on the panel immediately tensed up.”

“I think that he immediately regretted it,” Schulz added. “He went on for I don’t know how long it was — it felt like an eternity after that, because everyone was waiting for the answer to end, but he was trying to steer the ship back to where he was trying to go.”

According to Schulz, “A woman shouted back at him, ‘Don’t say that,’ immediately after he said it.”

Mortensen's comment comes right after the firing of a Netflix executive Jonathan Friedland who used the same word as Mortensen during a company meeting while explaining why it should not be said. He was terminated by Netflix CEO for “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity," reported THR.