Viggo Mortensen apologizes for using N-word at ‘Green Book’ panel

Green Book” actor Viggo Mortensen has released an official apology for using the N-word on a panel proceeding a screening of his film Wednesday at the ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood.

“I have no right to even imagine the hurt that is caused by hearing that word in any context,” Mortensen’s statement read “especially from a white man.”

News of the incident at the Film Independent screening of “Green Book,” sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, first broke online as shocked audience members tweeted the reactions to Mortensen’s use of a racial slur.  

Variety has corroborated Twitter accounts by three separate individuals in the room.

In a conversation moderated by Film Independent programmer Elvis Mitchell, Mortensen spoke about cyclical and generational use of hate speech, according to several audience members in attendance. Mortensen offered his thoughts on the matter in a question addressed to co-star Mahershala Ali. He used the N-word specifically as an example of speech that’s no longer common in conversation. But still, it’s use in the moment “shifted the energy” of an otherwise meaningful and poignant conversation, one of the individuals present said.

While several accounts on social media expressed understandable shock, the individuals Variety spoke with said the moment was more “uncomfortable” than it was intentionally confrontational.

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Viggo Mortensen out and about
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Viggo Mortensen attends Film Independent Hosts Special Screening Of 'Green Book' at ArcLight Hollywood on November 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Viggo Mortensen attends Film Independent Hosts Special Screening Of 'Green Book' at ArcLight Hollywood on November 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Viggo Mortensen arrives at the 22nd Annual Hollywood Film Awards on November 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 04: Viggo Mortensen (L) and Mahershala Ali pose in press room at the 22nd Annual Hollywood Film Awards on November 04, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
AUDITORIUM PARCO DELLA MUSICA, ROME, ITALY - 2018/10/25: Viggo Mortensen during the Red Carpet of the film 'Green Book' at the Rome Film Fest. (Photo by Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AUDITORIUM PARCO DELLA MUSICA, ROME, ITALY - 2018/10/24: Viggo Mortensen make his photocall for the 13th edition of Rome Cinema Fest at Auditorium Parco della Musica. (Photo by Paolo Pizzi/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MIDDLEBURG, VA - OCTOBER 21: Actor Viggo Mortensen and composer Kris Bowers discuss the film, 'Green Book', at the Middleburg Film Festival on October 21, 2018 in Middleburg, Virginia. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Viggo Mortensen attends the opening ceremony and 'Green Book' premiere during the 14th Zurich Film Festival at Kino Corso on September 27, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich Film Festival 2018 will take place from September 27 until October 7. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Viggo Mortensen attends the opening ceremony and 'Green Book' premiere during the 14th Zurich Film Festival at Kino Corso on September 27, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich Film Festival 2018 will take place from September 27 until October 7. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Viggo Mortensen waves after the 'Green Book' press conference during the 14th Zurich Film Festival at NZZ Lounge on September 27, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich Film Festival 2018 will take place from September 27 until October 7. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Viggo Mortensen speaks at the 'Green Book' press conference during the 14th Zurich Film Festival at NZZ Lounge on September 27, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich Film Festival 2018 will take place from September 27 until October 7. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Actress Linda Cardellini, writer Nick Vallelonga, actor Viggo Mortensen and director Peter Farrelly attend the press conference for Green Book during the Toronto International Film Festival, on September 12, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Mortensen has since released a full apology stating, “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.

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.”

Co-star Ali and Film Independent have not responded to request for comment.

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