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'Green Book' writer apologizes after anti-Muslim tweet surfaces

Updated 8:24 PM ET, Sat January 12, 2019

(CNN) - Nick Vallelonga, the Golden Globe-winning writer of the critically acclaimed drama "Green Book," has apologized for a 2015 tweet containing a false, Islamophobic statement.

In the tweet, sent to then-candidate Donald Trump, Vallelonga claimed he saw "Muslims in Jersey City cheering" when the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Vallelonga's Twitter account was deleted after the tweet resurfaced this week.

"I want to apologize. I spent my life trying to bring this story of overcoming differences and finding common ground to the screen, and I am incredibly sorry to everyone associated with 'Green Book,'" Vallelonga said in a statement Thursday via a representative. "I especially deeply apologize to the brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali, and all members of the Muslim faith, for the hurt I have caused."

Ali, who stars in "Green Book" alongside Viggo Mortensen, is Muslim.

Representatives for Ali have not returned CNN's request for comment.

The movie follows the friendship between celebrated pianist Dr. Donald Shirley (Ali) and his rough-around-the-edges driver Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen).

Tony Vallelonga was Nick Vallelonga's father.

"I am also sorry to my late father who changed so much from Dr. Shirley's friendship and I promise this lesson is not lost on me," Vallelonga added. "'Green Book' is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better."

"Green Book" won the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical on Sunday, but its path to accolades has encountered controversy.

The film has been accused of exaggerating the pair's friendship and criticized by some of Shirley's surviving relatives.

Mortensen was also the target of ire when, during a post-screening discussion in November, he used the N-word while trying to draw a contrast between the period in which the film is set and present day. He later apologized.

And on Wednesday, "Green Book" director Peter Farrelly apologized after news articles referencing past instances of sexual misconduct, veiled at the time as attempts at humor, resurfaced.

"True. I was an idiot," Farrelly said in a statement to CNN. "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."


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