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28th Annual Producers Guild Awards - Arrivals

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The Actor Has Words For The Real-Life Family Of Dr. Don Shirley

Mahershala Ali had himself a big night at the Golden Globes on Sunday, winning Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Greenbook. 

The movie has received critical acclaim since it was released last year, however it didn’t come without controversy. First, co-star Viggo Mortenson had a N-word slip-up during a Q&A panel. Then, the family of the man the movie was based on, Dr. Don Shirley, wasn’t too happy with the movie.

The film follows the piano virtuoso as he takes on his 1962 concert tour in the Deep South alongside his Italian bodyguard Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga (played by Viggo Mortensen). The real-life family of Shirley criticized many aspects of the film in a talk with Shadow and Act with Shirley’s brother even calling it a “symphony of lies.” Family members asserted that Dr. Shirley and Vallelonga weren’t even “friends” like the movie promoted and the real-life Shirley was against the biopic which was co-written by Vallelonga’s son Nick Vallelonga.


Well after Mahershala’s Golden Globe win, he addressed the controversy backstage, according to Page Six:

“I will say this,” Ali said, “My job is always the same: I have to look at what I am doing and be responsible for it.”

He then went on to say that everyone involved with the movie worked hard and he doesn’t want to “throw away” what everyone has done:

“I respect the family…and Doc Shirley,” he said. “I spoke to the studio and the family and at the end of the day you wish everyone was happy and you don’t want to offend anyone in any capacity.”

Mahershala is telling the truth about talking to Shirley’s family. According to Shadow and Act, he called Shirley’s nephew Edwin Shirley III.

Edwin told Shadow and Act, “He called me and my Uncle Maurice in which he apologized profusely if there had been any offense. What he said was, ‘If I have offended you, I am so, so terribly sorry. I did the best I could with the material I had. I was not aware that there were close relatives with whom I could have consulted to add some nuance to the character.’”

Well at least one person in Hollywood has some tact and of course, it’s the Black man.

You can check out more of Mahershala’s post win talk in the clip below.



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