Green Book screenwriter and producer Nick Vallelonga has issued an apology for a 2015 tweet in which he amplified Donald Trump’s thoroughly debunked claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the Sept. 11 attacks.
“I want to apologize. I spent my life trying to bring this story of overcoming differences and finding common ground to the screen, and I am incredibly sorry to everyone associated with Green Book,” Vallelonga said in a statement Thursday. “I especially deeply apologize to the brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali, and all members of the Muslim faith, for the hurt I have caused. I am also sorry to my late father who changed so much from Dr. Shirley’s friendship and I promise this lesson is not lost on me. Green Book is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better.”
Participant Media, which co-produced and financed Green Book, also released a statement Thursday that said, “We find Mr. Vallelonga’s Twitter post offensive, dangerous, and antithetical to Participant Media’s values. We reject it in no uncertain terms.”
Vallelonga came under intense criticism Wednesday when his old tweet resurfaced. Among the voices calling him out was La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, who noted that Vallelonga had just won a Golden Globe for co-writing Green Book days before and that Ali, one of the film’s two leads, is Muslim. Vallelonga deleted his Twitter account shortly after.
Released in November, Green Book stars Ali as pianist Don Shirley and Viggo Mortensen as his driver, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Nick Vallelonga’s father), and follows the two men on a concert tour in the 1960s Deep South.
Although the film has reaped critical acclaim and awards success, it has been mired in controversy as well. Members of Shirley’s family have denounced the film, and it has also been criticized for perpetuating racial stereotypes and the “white savior” trope. In November, Mortensen apologized after using the N-word during a post-screening Q&A in Los Angeles.
Director Peter Farrelly issued a mea culpa of his own Wednesday, in response to resurfaced articles from 1998 saying he used to expose his penis to cast and crew members on set as a prank. “I was an idiot,” Farrelly said in a statement. “I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I’m deeply sorry.”