Fresh off the back of three Golden Globe wins, Green Book has been hit by a double scandal.
The movie, out in Australia on February 24, has already been mired in controversy but the latest revelations, two separate accusations against its director Peter Farrelly and co-screenwriter Nick Vallelonga, are sure to hurt its Oscar campaign.
This week, a 1998 Newsweek article promoting the release of Farrelly’s movie There’s Something About Mary, resurfaced, in which star Cameron Diaz said the director showed her his penis as part of his pitch to convince her to do the movie.
Diaz, at the time, chalked it up to his “creative genius”.
In another article around that time, in the Observer, Farrelly admitted he had engaged in the behaviour “at least 500 times”.
In a statement to CNN, a contrite Farrelly apologised for his past actions.
“True. I was an idiot. 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.”
Separately, Green Book co-screenwriter and producer Nick Vallelonga has deleted his Twitter account after a tweet, dated November 2015, resurfaced in which he replied to Donald Trump that the now-US president was “100 per cent correct” and he too saw “Muslims cheering in Jersey City when towers went down”.
That claim made by Mr Trump about Muslims cheering in the street when the World Trade Centre towers collapsed during the 9/11 attacks has been fact-checked and debunked by US news organisations.
Nick Vallelonga (screenwriter of Green Book) deleted this tweet and then the entire account. Maybe a movie designed to make white people feel better about racism isn’t actually woke! pic.twitter.com/r1QEJ6umUz— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz)
As many on social media have pointed out, Green Book star and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali is Muslim.
Vallelonga was also accused of being a “sexist motherf***er” by Twitter user Elhoffer Design, who claimed to have worked with him on a previous project. While it’s not clear who the Twitter user is, the account was endorsed by Vanity Fair senior writer Joanna Robinson who wrote it was a “source I trust completely”.
Vallelonga has not responded to the controversy.
Green Book won three Golden Globes on Monday, including two for Farrelly in Best Picture — Comedy or Musical and Best Screenplay categories, the latter which he shared with Vallelonga and Brian Hayes Currie. Ali won the third for his performance.
Green Book has been swamped in controversy since before its release.
The film is a dramatisation of acclaimed musician Don Shirley’s concert tour through the American Deep South during the era of 1960s segregation with his driver and bodyguard, Tony Vallelonga, Nick Vallelonga’s father.
Green Book is a feel-good movie that picked up the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered, as well as many other accolades since.
However, critics and audiences have taken issue with the film’s simplistic and Pollyanna-ish depiction of race relations and its uplifting ending, arguing that it downplays the complexity of racial tension in American then and now, and that it follows a “white saviour” narrative.
Don Shirley’s family has also accused Green Book of being inaccurate, calling it a “symphony of lies”. Specifically, they said their late relative, who died in 2015, was never friends with Tony Vallelonga, that it was purely an employer/employee relationship and the film inaccurately represented Shirley as being isolated from his family and from the African-American community.
In addition, Shirley’s family said Nick Vallelonga, who based the screenplay on stories his father told him, had approached the musician before his death about making the film and Shirley had said no.
Vallelonga has since claimed to Variety that Shirley had approved it and had told him not to tell anyone.
Shirley’s family said Ali called them after being made aware of their grievances and apologised for any offence his portrayal caused.
Green Book is in cinemas on January 24.