Mahershala Ali has responded to backlash his film Green Book, in which he plays celebrated jazz virtuoso Don Shirley, has received from the musician’s family.
The Moonlight actor won the Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for the feature, directed by Peter Farrelly. The film was also awarded Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 2019 Golden Globes on Sunday (06Jan19) in Los Angeles.
Green Book, which tells the story of the late composer and his 1962 tour through the segregated Deep South with his racist driver, Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, was slammed by Shirley’s family who dubbed the dramatisation a “symphony of lies”.
According to Fox News, when asked about the controversy, Mahershala responded backstage at the event: “I will say that my job is always the same and I have to look at what I’m responsible for doing and all the prayers, the energy, the time, the work.
“I am not one who is going to necessarily throw all that away over things I had no control over and had nothing to do with.”
He continued: “I respect the family, I respect Dr Shirley and his family and I wish them well. I have a job to do and I have to continue to do my job as I move on to my next project and treat everyone I work with respect.
“In this case, I didn’t know they were around. I made contact and I’ve spoken to the studio and I have to move on at this point.”
Dr Donald Shirley’s nephew Edwin Shirley III has disputed the film’s suggestion that Shirley was not in touch with his family or the black community at large, as did Shirley’s only living brother, Dr Maurice Shirley, who insisted his brother was not friends with Vallelonga, who is played by Viggo Mortensen in the movie.
The Oscar-winning actor conceded he wished everybody could have been happy with the outcome of his film.
“In any situation you don’t want anybody to be upset at anything or be offended in any capacity so I wish them well and send them my love,” he said.