×

‘Green Book’ Star Viggo Mortensen Says Backlash From Shirley Family Is ‘Unjustified’

Green Book” star Viggo Mortensen has spoken out in defense of the film after family members of Dr. Don Shirley criticized its portrayal of the classical pianist.

“[Writer] Nick Vallelonga has shown admirable restraint in the face of some accusations and some claims – including from a couple of family members – that have been unjustified, uncorroborated and basically unfair, that have been countered by other people who knew Doc Shirley well,” Mortenson told Variety‘s Marc Malkin at the Palm Springs Film Festival awards gala Thursday. “There is evidence that there was not the connection that [the family members] claimed there was with him, and perhaps there’s some resentment.”

Previously, Dr. Shirley’s nephew, Edwin Shirley III, and brother, Maurice Shirley openly criticized the film in an interview with Shadow And Act, calling its portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley a “Symphony of Lies.” Additionally, the family members questioned the relationship between the film’s two main characters Tony Lip (Mortensen) and Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), calling it “an employer-employee relationship.”

On the carpet, director Peter Farrelly also defended the film, pointing to the importance of Dr. Don Shirley’s friends in the creation of the film.

“I’m very disappointed by that. I wish they were, and they have a right to their opinion, but when we went down that road, we looked into the heirs of Don Shirley, and unfortunately it wasn’t the family. The heirs were friends,” Farrelly told Variety. “Then we found out about the family, we tried to embrace them, and they’re not having it right now, and it’s very disappointing.”

“I don’t think it would have changed the movie at all,” Farrelly continued, “This is a movie about a two month period in these men’s lives. It’s not about him and his family. It really isn’t.”

More Film

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby, A.J. Eaton.

    Cameron Crowe on Why He Loved Leaving David Crosby Doc on a CSNY Question Mark

    David Crosby may or may not have stuck a joint in Cameron Crowe’s mouth the first time he ever met the future filmmaker, when Crosby was peaking with Crosby Stills Nash & Young and his interviewer was a precocious 15-year-old Rolling Stone correspondent. As Crowe said to Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “I remember it [...]

  • Mokalik

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • The Lion King

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Roars Overseas With Mighty $269 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” certainly felt the love this weekend, generating $269 million at the international box office. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the classic Disney cartoon now holds the eighth-biggest debut of all time overseas, and that’s not including the film’s early opening in China last weekend. Combined with a stellar $185 million start [...]

  • Scarlett JohanssonMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Scarlett Johansson Reveals What We'll Learn About Black Widow in Stand-Alone Movie

    Scarlett Johansson can finally talk about her upcoming “Black Widow” movie. While she can’t divulge spoilers, she let out a big sigh of relief after the film was officially announced on Saturday during the Marvel Studios presentation at Comic-Con. “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” the Oscar nominee told Variety. “Black Widow” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content