Green Book has certainly proven to be a more interesting film off screen. Only days after conquering the Golden Globes, the preachy drama finds itself in even more controversy, once again from its screenwriter Nick Vallelonga, but also from director Peter Farrelly.
On Wednesday, a tweet from Vallelonga dating back to November 2015 recirculated in which he wrote, “@realDonaldTrump 100% correct. Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news.”
The response was in reaction to since-debunked comments made by President Donald Trump at a November rally, where he claimed, “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
Upon the tweet’s resurfacing, several professionals in the film industry have lambasted Vallelonga, including La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, who pointed out that Green Book star and recent Golden Globe winner Mahershala Ali is a Muslim. Needless to say, Vallelonga has since deleted his Twitter account following the controversy.
Update: On Thursday, Vallelonga issued a statement following the controversy.
“I want to apologize. I spent my life trying to bring this story of overcoming differences and finding common ground to the screen, and I am incredibly sorry to everyone associated with Green Book. I especially deeply apologize to the brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali, and all members of the Muslim faith, for the hurt I have caused. I am also sorry to my late father who changed so much from Dr. Shirley’s friendship and I promise this lesson is not lost on me. Green Book is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better.”
Farrelly is similarly in hot water after The Cut dusted off a 1998 Newsweek story that featured accounts from executive producer Tom Rothman and actress Cameron Diaz recalling how the director jokingly flashed his penis while filming There’s Something About Mary. “True. I was an idiot,” Farrelly told The Cut in a statement. “I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I’m deeply sorry.”
Again, this isn’t the first time the would-be Oscar darling has been in hell or highwater. Upon its release, Vallelonga was criticized for the authenticity in his script, who based the story on experiences of his father, after the family of Dr. Don Shirley, played by Ali in the film, spoke out against the film. They claimed they had never been contacted during its production.
If that weren’t enough, co-star Viggo Mortensen also found himself in trouble after using a racial slur during a press conference. He has also since apologized, despite continuing to be heavily scrutinized.
Whether any of this hurts the chances of Green Book garnering Oscars remains to be seen. Voting opened on January 7th and closes on the 14th, so there are likely countless ballots still to be submitted. Nominations go out on January 22nd.
Already, the film has won three Golden Globes for best screenplay, best motion picture – musical or comedy, and best performance by a supporting actor for Ali; four British Academy Film Award nominations; two Screen Actor Guild nominations; and a Directors Guild Award nomination for Farrelly.
Green Book is currently playing in theaters.
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