Tuesday 25 June 2019

Green Book star Mahershala Ali responds to criticism from Don Shirley’s family

Ali won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the jazz musician.

Mahershala Ali as responded to criticism over his role in Green Book (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Mahershala Ali as responded to criticism over his role in Green Book (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

By Keiran Southern, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

Mahershala Ali said he wants to “move on” from the controversy over his film Green Book.

The US actor played jazz musician Don Shirley in Peter Farrelly’s multi-Golden Globe-winning road-trip movie, which also stars Viggo Mortensen.

However, Dr Shirley’s family objected to Ali’s portrayal of the late pianist, with one relative calling the film a “symphony of lies”.

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Mahershala Ali took home a Golden Globe for his role in Green Book (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Speaking backstage at the Golden Globes after picking up his best supporting actor prize, Oscar-winner Ali said he respects Dr Ali and his family but wants to move on.

He said: “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.

“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 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.

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From left, Viggo Mortensen, Peter Farrelly, Linda Cardellini and Mahershala Ali celebrate Green Book’s success at the Golden Globes (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“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 and topped the table in terms of wins at the Golden Globes, with three.

As well as Ali’s prize, it was recognised in the best motion picture, musical or comedy category, and for best screenplay.

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