Covering the dark cloud of controversy that's been looming over Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” has not been fun for me. This is a film that, in all likelihood, will be nominated for Best Picture, and all this despite Viggo Mortensen uttering the N-word last month at a Q&A, and despite accusations implying that it goes against the current grain of progressive thought, with the term "white savior" having been uttered more than a few times by film journalists and despite Dr. Don Shirley's family coming out most recently and saying the film is a "symphony of lies."
The film's detractors have won the battle to prevent this film from winning Best Picture, or so I think, but with impressive stamina at the box-office and incredible audience scores "Green Book" could still potentially shock. Who knows.
All of this to say that Family members of pianist Dr. Donald W. Shirley criticizing the lies in the film's narrative have irked "Green Book" star Viggo Mortensen. And in a new interview with Variety, the actor, who plays Lipp in the film, defended “Green Book” calling the Shirley family's criticisms "unfair."
“[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,” Mortensen said. “There is evidence that there was not the connection that [the family members] claimed there was with him, and perhaps there’s some resentment.”
Also coming to the film’s defense was the film's director Peter Farrelly, targeted by the Shirley family for presenting a friendship they claim they never existed. “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. When we found out about the family, we tried to embrace them, and they’re not having it right now, and it’s very disappointing,” said the filmmaker.
Farrelly continued, “I don’t think it would have changed the movie at all. 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.”