Mahershala Ali has said sorry to the family of Dr. Donald Shirley, the real life musician he plays in the film “Green Book”.
Controversy erupted around the film recently when members of Dr. Shirley’s family spoke out against the film, about the musician’s friendship with his driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga on a tour of the American South during the 1960s.
Speaking to NPR’s 1A Movie Club, Dr. Shirley’s younger brother Maurice, and his niece Carol Shirley Kimble both denounced the film, and disputed his characterization in the film, including the nature of his friendship with Vallelonga and scenes like one in which Vallelonga introduces him to fried chicken.
In an interview with Shadow and Act, Dr. Shirley’s nephew Edwin disputed the depiction of his uncle as not close with his family.
“That was very hurtful,” Edwin said. “That’s just 100 per cent wrong.”
Edwin revealed that both he and Maurice did received calls from Ali last month apologizing for any offence caused by his portrayal of Dr. Shirley.
“I got a call from Mahershala Ali, a very, very respectful phone call, from him personally. He called me and my Uncle Maurice in which he apologized profusely if there had been any offence,” Edwin said. “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.’”
“Green Book” won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF 2018, and is nominated for five Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.