'Green Book' Screenwriter Nick Vallelonga 'Deeply Apologizes' for Controversial 9/11 Tweet

Green Book co-writer Nick Vallelonga apologized for a November 2015 tweet in which he shared the debunked story of American Muslims cheering the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"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 wrote in a statement to Variety. "I especially deeply apologize to the incredibly brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali and all member of the Muslim faith for the hurt I have caused. 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. Green Book is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better.”

Participant Media, which co-financed the film, also released a statement, saying they find Vallelonga's tweet "offensive, dangerous, and antithetical to Participant Media’s values," adding, "We reject it in no uncertain terms."

In November 2015, Vallelonga tweeted to then-candidate President Donald Trump, writing, "@realDonaldTrump 100% correct. Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news.”

Vallelonga was referring to a debunked and extremist conservative claim that Muslim Americans were seen on television celebrating the Sept. 11 attacks. During a November 2015 rally, Trump claimed he watched "thousands and thousands of people cheering" as the World Trade Center collapsed. Although there is no evidence of these celebrations being televised, Trump stood by his claim in an ABC News interview.

After Vallelonga's tweet was discovered on Wednesday, it was deleted. Vallelonga also deleted his Twitter page. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Vallelonga will also miss the Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday.

On Jan. 6, Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie and director Peter Farrelly won a Golden Globe for their Green Book script. The film tells the story of Vallelonga's father, Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer who drove African-American musician "Doc" Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) throughout the Deep South, despite his own racial prejudices. Linda Cardellini also stars as Vallelonga's mother, Dolores.

Since Green Book began to draw attention during awards season, the film has been the center of several controversies. During a November 2017 press conference, Mortensen used the N-word while discussing racism and later apologized. Shirley's relatives were also not happy with his depiction, leading to Ali issuing an apology in December.

Farrelly, who is best known for directing comedies like Dumb and Dumber with his brother Bobby Farrelly, also apologized after a 1998 Newsweek article mentioning him flashing his penis on the set of There's Something About Mary resurfaced.

“True. I was an idiot,” Farrelly said. "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.”


Green Book is now in theaters.

Photo credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images