In a recent interview with The Independent, Viggo Mortensen had some choice words for critics of Green Book, the 2019 Best Pictures Oscar winner. The actor pushed back against the idea that Peter Farrelly’s movie plays into a white savior narrative.
“Much of the criticism that was leveled at [Green Book] was not only unreasonable, but it was inaccurate, mendacious, and irresponsible,” said Mortensen. “It’s based on a load of bulls*** and an axe to grind and little else. Does it affect what I’m doing, or how people perceive me as an actor? Maybe it does. But I can’t really do anything about that.”
In the film, Mortensen plays an Italian-American driver tasked with escorting and protect renowned concert pianist Dr. Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. Shirley’s family publicly criticized the movie for its misrepresentation of their relative. Shirley’s brother, Maurice Shirley, called Green Book a “symphony of lies.” Other critics have condemned the film as the story of a bigot’s redemption.
“It’s become a cliché to say,” said Mortensen. “Is this movie going to be the Green Book of this year?’ Green Book has become a pejorative.”
Mortensen is currently promoting his new film Falling, which he wrote, directed, and starred in. It premiered at Sundance Film Festival where some took issue with the fact that Mortensen is a straight actor playing the role of a gay man.
“I wouldn’t think of asking someone what their sexual orientation or identification was. Neither do I assume that actors who identify as being homosexual only want to play homosexual roles,” Mortensen said. “I wasn’t intending to play [the gay son] John, but I ended up playing him, because I had a high enough profile, and I also didn’t have to pay the actor.”