Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen drops the n-word during panel

Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen shocks crowd by using the n-word during panel about his new movie on a black musician touring the Jim Crow Deep South

  • Viggo Mortensen, 60, said the n-word during Q&A panel about his new film
  • He said: ‘For instance, no one says n****r anymore’ on Wednesday
  • He was speaking about racial progress in America when he dropped the slur
  • He issued a statement apologizing afterwards saying he ‘will not utter it again’ 
  • Guests at the panel said ‘the oxygen immediately left the room’ after the slur 
  • In the movie he plays a white bouncer for a famed black pianist on tour in the South in the 1960s 
  • Twitter users criticize him of failing to learn about the importance of race and such slurs from the film 

Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen has apologized for dropping the n-word during a panel on his latest film about race in the Jim Crow South.

Mortensen, who famously played Aragorn in the fantasy series, was speaking at a Q&A panel following the screening of his latest film Green Book, which is about the friendship between a black musician and his white bouncer in the 1960s.

The crowd was shocked upon hearing the Oscar-nominated actor, 60, use the racial slur. Yet the Wednesday panel hosted by Film Independent in Hollywood continued on as if nothing happened.

‘For instance, no one says n****r anymore,’ Mortensen said while discussing race in America, according to guests at the panel. 

Viggo Mortensen, 60, has apologized after he used the n-word during Q&A panel about his new film and shocked the audience members on Wednesday 

He said ‘For instance, no one says n****r anymore’ while sitting next to his black co-star Mahershala Ali. The audience and fellow panel members tensed up after he said the slur. Mortensen pictured right next to Ali

Twitter user Dick W. Schulz said ‘the oxygen immediately left the room’ after he dropped the n-word at the Green Book screening panel on Hollywood

After he said the slur guests in the audience and the panelists on the stage tensed up, including Mortensen’s black co-star Mahershala Ali.

Twitter users were shell-shocked with his choice words and vented about the incident online. 

‘Was at a screening for #GreenBook – the movie is amazing, but at the Q&A after Viggo Mortensen just dropped the N Word and the oxygen immediately left the room. #movies,’ Twitter user Dick Schulz wrote. 

‘It was all anyone was talking about when we left the theater. I was hearing everybody passing by me going up the stairs going, “That was crazy!”‘ Schulz said to The Hollywood Reporter. 

‘Viggo just started talking, and it got away from him quickly. And that’s when he went, “I’m gonna go off on a tangent here, but it’s important, and I don’t like saying the word,”‘ he added.

On Twitter user added that a woman in the audience said ‘Don’t say that’ when the star dropped the slur.

One Twitter user said the context was discussing the impact of ignoring racism. 


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One Twitter said a audience member yelled at him to not use the offensive word 

Another Twitter user described that he used the word in the context of hating it, and not in an intentionally derogatory way 

This Twitter user was surprised no one on the panel or in the audience made a greater effort to call out the Oscar-nominated star

Missed the park: This user criticized the actor for taking on a role about race, but seemingly fail to learn from it 

Do better, Aragorn! This user was shocked that no one called out the actor at the panel 

Oh, the irony: This user was incredulous that Mortensen worked in a film about race yet still found it appropriate to say the n-word 

‘He said something like I hate the n-word, we all know what it is just say – and said it’ Twitter user Kamille Virginia wrote. 

For many the actor missed the mark. 

Race is the central theme of the film based on a true story in which he plays white bouncer Tony Lip hired by famed Jamaican-American pianist Don Shirley during his 1960s tour of the South in the Jim Crow era.

Lip went on to play crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi on the Sopranos following his chauffeur and bouncer gig. 

Despite working on a film that explores the dynamics of race in the U.S. and learning of connotations of the slur, Mortensen still used it, knowing full well its derogatory weight.

The actor issued an apology saying he ‘will not utter’ the n-word again.

In Green Book Mortensen (right) plays white bouncer Tony Lip hired by famed Jamaican-American pianist Don Shirley (portrayed by Mahershala Ali left) during his 1960s tour of the South


The film is based on the true story of Tony Lip (left) and musician Don Shirley (right)

‘In making the point that many people casually used the “N” word at the time in which the movie’s story takes place, in 1962, I used the full word. Although my intention was to speak strongly against racism, I have no right to even imagine the hurt that is caused by hearing that word in any context, especially from a white man,’ Mortensen said to THR. 

‘I do not use the word in private or in public. I am very sorry that I did use the full word last night, and will not utter it again,’ he added.

He added that he took on the role with the purpose of raising racial awareness.   

‘One of the reasons I accepted the challenge of working on Peter Farrelly’s movie Green Book was to expose ignorance and prejudice in the hope that our movie’s story might help in some way to change people’s views and feelings regarding racial issues. It is a beautiful, profound movie story that I am very proud to be a part of,’ he said. 

His comments follow the firing of a Netflix executive Jonathan Friedland who used the n-word during a company meeting in the context of explaining why it should not be said. He was let go for ‘unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity’.   

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