At a recent Q&A interview to promote his new film, Green Book, Viggo Mortensen dropped the N-word. During a discussion on race in America, Mortensen was pointing out the hopeful progress when he said,
"For instance, no one says n***** anymore."
The incident was reported by Dick Shuls, a freelance director who was present at the Q&A. He tweeted about the comment and the reaction of the audience, which seemed to be one of discomfort and silence.
Was at a screening for #GreenBook—the movie is amazing, but at the Q&A after Viggo Mortensen just dropped the N Wor… https://t.co/fjLm8pa1wG— Dick W. Schulz (@Dick W. Schulz) 1541661386.0
@DickSchulz Was there too. He kept going off on tangents that were not clearly thought out. Really a disservice to the film.— Nicola Jones (@Nicola Jones) 1541725119.0
@kleinHK I have no idea why this isn’t a big news story. Viggo is wildly talented but that kind of behavior needs to be publicly checked.— Dick W. Schulz (@Dick W. Schulz) 1541689375.0
Mortensen took responsibility for using the word.
"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."
Mahershala Ali, who is co-starring in the movie alongside Mortensen, issued his own statement, accepting the apology.
"However well-intended or intellectual the conversation may have been, it wasn't appropriate for Viggo to say the n-word. 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."
The incident divided people on Twitter.
White actor Viggo Mortensen sat next to a black man, in front of a crowd of people, promoting a movie about racial… https://t.co/izRAXVd0Sl— Gabe (@Gabe) 1541792416.0
Viggo Mortensen really said the n-word--while sitting right next to Mahershala Ali--in order to make a point about… https://t.co/Kg2rg5x0HG— Court 🤷🏾♀️🤷🏾♀️ (@Court 🤷🏾♀️🤷🏾♀️) 1541771611.0
Viggo Mortensen dropped the N word at a press conference - GET A GRIP libs/black ppl! He didn't say it in a derogat… https://t.co/40luYmY8qz— Nev Eve (@Nev Eve) 1541805642.0
@THR Using that word to make the point that nobody uses that word anymore is the definition of ironic and ignorant— s (@s) 1541785131.0
@THR His agent just sent his 23andme test kit express mail.— steeeeve (@steeeeve) 1541778195.0
Viggo Mortensen said in a panel discussion, “people don’t say n*gger anymore”. He was making a statement. I pull up… https://t.co/79xYzqmPVz— Jimmy Basile (@Jimmy Basile) 1541766100.0
The layers of ignorance here are pretty concerning. 1. That he felt the need to say the word itself without conside… https://t.co/DzGNsTniBu— Nina Metz (@Nina Metz) 1541779746.0
I'm just going to say it. I don't have any problems with Viggo Mortensen saying the n word in the context that he s… https://t.co/ZmMEnrs1Ku— ZAK Monster Mash 🎃 (@ZAK Monster Mash 🎃) 1541793842.0
My boy Viggo Mortensen getting hammered for saying the N word in a Q&A about his new movie which is about race. Do… https://t.co/cXt2MTFLCk— Sam (@Sam) 1541791051.0
So apparently reading Twitter comments, when Viggo Mortensen drops the 'N' word, it's all about 'context'. No wond… https://t.co/pZBdropgNd— ruby (@ruby) 1541788001.0
The two stars were promoting their movie "Green Book" which is about a black pianist and his white driver dealing with the deep seated racism in the Jim Crow era south.
The movie will receive a wide release on November 21st, 2018.