Lust two days after Viggo Mortensen raised eyebrows with his use of the N-word, his co-star, Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali, has nothing but praise for the actor.

During a Q&A for their film Green Book in Hollywood on Wednesday, Mortensen said, 'For instance, no one says n---er anymore,' which raised plenty of eyebrows, but Ali, 44, still had nothing but praise for Mortensen, 60.
'Viggo was great because he’s an extraordinary teammate,' Ali told US Weekly at the AFI Fest screening of Green Book on Friday. 'He was somebody who felt supportive of me doing my best work. I believe I tried to do the exact same thing with him.'
'But we were always trying to improve the scene,' Ali added. 'Every day we did our best to improve the scene and just to capitalize on the opportunities that we had together to try to make something special.'
After the Q&A on Wednesday, Mortensen issued an apology where he explained why he used the full N-word during the Q&A.
'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,' his statement began.
'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,' he continued. '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.'
Ali added that Mortensen, 'apologized profusely immediately following the Q&A,' which was moderated by African-American film critic Elvis Mitchell.
'However well-intended or intellectual the conversation may have been, it wasn’t appropriate for Viggo to say the N-word,” Ali said, adding Mortensen made it clear to him that Mortensen was aware it wasn't appropriate for him to say the N-word.
'Knowing his intention was to express that removing the N-word from your vocabulary doesn’t necessarily disqualify a person as a racist or participating in actions or thoughts that are bigoted, I can accept and embrace his apology,' Ali continued.
An excellent and poignant thought was unfortunately overshadowed by voicing the word in its fullness,' Ali went on to say.
'Which for me, is always hurtful … The use of the word by those who aren’t black is not up for debate,' Ali added.
'The history of discrimination, slavery, pain, oppression and violence that the word has come to symbolize only causes harm to members of the black community and therefore needs to be left in the past,' he said.
Ali and Mortensen's film Green Book is based on the true story of an Italian-American bouncer, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) who becomes the driver for African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) during his tour of the American South in the 1960s.
The title is a reference to The Negro Motorist's Green Book, which was published between 1936 and 1966 as a guide to help African-Americans deal with racial segregation and Jim Crow laws of that era.
The film debuted to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been a hit on the festival circuit this fall, with the film debuting in limited release November 16 before expanding nationwide November 21.


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