A tweet from 2015 resurfaced of Vallelonga supporting President Trump’s claim that Muslims in New Jersey cheered the fall of the towers on 9/11
Just three days after Green Book won three awards at the Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture and Best Screenplay, Nick Vallelonga, one of the film’s writers and the son of the film’s main subject, was discovered tweeting support for a pre-President Trump’s claim that he saw Muslims cheering the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11. The tweet was from November of 2015, five months after Trump announced his candidacy. The claim has long since been debunked by all major outlets and publications, including the Washington Post and New York Magazine.
The film details a working-class Italian-American bouncer (Vallelonga’s father, played by Viggo Mortensen) who becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist (Doc Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali) on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South using “The Green Book,” a guide for black travelers to find safe havens throughout the segregated South. Green Book won the Toronto International Film Festival’s Audience Award and has made $36.5M since opening November 21, 2018. It just earned Best Film and Best Screenplay nominations from BAFTA and has been a top player in this season’s Oscar race. Oscar nomination voting just began on Monday, January 7th and lasts until Monday, January 14th.
Green Book star Mahershala Ali, who also won a Golden Globe on Sunday, for Supporting Actor, is a Muslim actor. In 2017 he became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar when he won Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight.
The tweet, which was discovered by an AwardsWatch forum member, has since been deleted (took all of about 45 minutes for it to get back to him or his reps) but the Internet never really disappears and the tweet was screenshotted. Here it is below. As a matter of fact, in the middle of writing this Vallelonga has now deleted his Twitter account entirely.
Green Book was already in the middle of dodging PR bullets, from accusations of white saviorism to use of the “Magical Negro” trope to Doc Shirley’s family renouncing the film and the story, this has become one of the most scandal-ridden Oscar seasons in memory.
Sometimes there will be one film that suffers the blows of a stealth whisper campaign from a rival studio. But this season also has the controversy constantly surrounding Bohemian Rhapsody and its disgraced director Bryan Singer (which no one at the Golden Globes would mention, much less thank him despite the film winning Best Picture and Best Actor) and the ongoing aftermath and fallout over Kevin Hart being named Oscar host then stepping down after homophobic tweets and a series of defensive non-apologies.
It’s impossible not to feel bad for Mahershala Ali and executive producer Octavia Spencer as clearly they went into this with the best intentions. I do hope that with the extremely high level of scrutiny the internet, and specifically Twitter, has become, that this can be a lesson to do more due diligence in the future when looking for stories and recruiting talent. There are thousands and thousands of great, struggling artists and future visionaries who haven’t been accused of rape, sexual assault or hold deeply racist beliefs. Those are the people who should be telling stories and winning awards.