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Golden Globes 2019: Mahershala Ali responds to Green Book controversy

'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' 

Green Book trailer

Mahershala Ali was responded to the controversy over his film Green Book, in which he stars as jazz musician Don Shirley.

The actor won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal at the Golden Globes, where the Peter Farrelly-directed film also picked up Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Backstage, Ali was asked about the objections from Dr Shirley’s family over the film, with one relative calling the road trip comedy-drama a “symphony of lies”

“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 said.

“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.”

He continued: “But I do wish them well. At the end of the day, you wish everyone was happy. 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.”

Green Book tells the story of Dr Shirley’s concert tour through the segregated Deep South in the 1960s, depicted a blossoming friendship between the musician and his Italian-American driver Tony Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen.


Dr Shirley's brother, Maurice, claimed there was no friendship between the two men. “You asked what kind of relationship he had with Tony?” he said. ”He fired Tony, which is consistent with the many firings he did with all of his chauffeurs over time.”

The jazz icon’s nephew Edwin Shirley III previously told NPR that Ali had phoned to apologise for his involvement in the film: “He called me and my Uncle Maurice in which he apologised profusely if there had been any offence.”

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“What he said was, ‘If I have offended you, I am so, so terribly sorry. I did the best I could with the material I had. I was not aware that there were close relatives with whom I could have consulted to add some nuance to the character.’”

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