Viggo Mortensen apologizes for using the word after a screening of his new film Green Book.
The sixty-year-old actor was involved in a series of questions and answers for the potential Oscar nominee, who deals with racism and segregation, on Wednesday evening in Los Angeles along with his costar Mahershala Ali.
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In a statement to PEOPLE, Mortensen apologized for his choice of words, saying, "Last night I attended a question and answer session moderated by Elvis Mitchell following a screening of Green Book in Los Angeles. In pointing out that many people randomly used the word "N" at the time the film's story unfolded, in 1962, I used the full word. "
L & # 39; ex Lord of the Rings The actor made it clear that "although my intention was to speak strongly against racism, I have no right to imagine the damage caused by hearing that word in any context, especially by a white man".
Mortensen also said that he does not "use the word in private or in public".
"I'm very sorry to have used the whole word last night, and I will not say it again," he said.
Green Book focuses on Dr. Don Shirley, a world-class African-American pianist taking part in a concert tour, played by Ali. Needing a driver and a bodyguard, Shirley takes on Tony Lip, played by Mortensen, while the two face racism and segregation in the deep south.
Mortensen said he took on the role of Lip to bring awareness to the racial issues that divided the United States.
"One of the reasons I accepted the challenge of working on Peter Farrelly's film Green Book it was to expose ignorance and prejudice in the hope that our film history could somehow help to change people's views and opinions about race issues, "he explained.
"It's a beautiful and profound cinematic story that I'm very proud to be a part of," he added.
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A member of the audience at the screening tweeted about the incident, writing "He was in projection for #Greenbook-The film is incredible, but at the Q & A after Viggo Mortensen just dropped the N Word and the oxygen left the room immediately. #movie".
Mortensen's comments come after a Netflix executive was fired for using the word during a corporate meeting, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Megyn Kelly also apologized last month for asking if wearing the black face on Halloween was racist. The comments led to the cancellation of his show and his lawyer said on Twitter that they and NBC were still negotiating his release following the scandal.
Green Book opens on November 16th.