Nick Vallelonga: Green Book writer apologises for anti-Muslim tweet

Vallelonga has come under fire for a 2015 tweet in which he claimed Muslims were 'cheering' when the Twin Towers collapsed during the 9/11 attacks

Clémence Michallon,Roisin O'Connor
Thursday 10 January 2019 15:47 GMT
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A Green Book screenwriter has apologised after a resurfaced anti-Muslim narrative about 9/11 posted from his Twitter account sparked a backlash.

Nick Vallelonga, one of three screenwriters who worked on the Golden Globe-winning film Green Book, is also the real-life son of one of the movie's protagonists, Frank Vallelonga. The elder Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen in Green Book, once worked as the chauffeur of pianist Don Shirley during a tour in the Deep South of the US in the Jim Crow era.

The screenwriter's resurfaced tweet echoes a debunked claim – supported by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail – that some people were seen cheering on the day of the 9/11 attacks.

Vallelonga apparently wrote: "@realDonaldTrump 100% correct. Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news."

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz shared a screenshot of Vallelonga's tweet, which reads: "@realDonaldTrump 100% correct. Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news."

Horowitz criticised the fact that Vallelonga was among the three writers who won the Golden Globe for Best ScreenPlay – Motion Picture during the awards ceremony on Sunday.

He pointed out that Mahershala Ali, who plays Shirley in Green Book, is Muslim.

"Nick Vallelonga wrote Green Book. My industry just gave him a Golden Globe for writing. This remains on his timeline," Horowitz wrote next to his screenshot of Vallelonga's tweet.

"Mahershala Ali is a Muslim, and a beautiful, generous and kind man. This is all just too disgusting."

After the tweet was resurfaced, Vallelonga deleted his Twitter account.

He has now apologised in a statement via his representative, saying: "I want to apologise. 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. I especially deeply apologise to the incredibly brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali and all members of the Muslim faith for the hurt I have caused.

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"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."

Co-financier and producer Participant Media also issued a statement: "We ind Mr Vallelonga's Twitter post offensive, dangerous, and antithetical to Participant Media's values. We reject it in no uncertain terms."

This is one of a string of controversies involving the film Green Book. On Wednesday 9 January, director Peter Farrelly apologised for exposing himself after a 1998 Newsweek article revealed he had played a game on set which involved trying to get cast and crew members to look at his penis.

"True. 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."

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