Back in November, while on a panel to promote his new movie Green Book, Viggo Mortensen used the N-word. As you can imagine, it didn't go too well. Mortensen, who has apologized, expanded on his usage of the word and specifically the context in which he used the word while speaking to France 24.
“I would like to say that how it has been explained, that I was simply saying the N-word is not used anymore, that’s not what I was saying,” Mortensen remarked, as transcribed by IndieWire. “What I was saying was that just because people don’t say that word anymore, it doesn’t mean they don’t still harbor discrimination and racism inside of themselves. Racism tends to evolve and change its vocabulary, its face. That doesn’t mean it has disappeared. We always need to be on guard. That’s what I was saying. The full context.”
Mortensen went on to add: “One person tweeted I said that word and the room went silent. The room did not go silent. There was no context given, and that’s regrettable. It’s a serious thing to throw around. To accuse someone of being racist without giving context of what they were talking about, that’s not only unfair to me but it’s also damaging to social discourse. As the people who were in the room know, the context in which I used the word, which is shocking to people still, especially coming from a white person, it was to talk about the need for each generation to keep working. It does not disappear. We always have to be wary of it. That’s what I was talking about.”
Woman in audience: “Don’t say that!!”
Green Book, which was directed by Peter Farrelly and also stars Mahershala Ali, was released to theaters on November 16, 2018. The movie has received five nominations from the 76th Golden Globe Awards.
Speaking of Ali, the actor also commented on Mortensen's use of the N-word. "However well-intended or intellectual the conversation may have been, it wasn’t appropriate for Viggo to say the n-word," Ali previously said. "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."