Mahershala Ali won a Golden Globe Sunday night for his role as the real-life Don Shirley in Green Book. The win comes amid some backlash from Shirley’s real family, who have come forward to say that his portrayal of the musician was not accurate. After Ali won his trophy, he addressed it backstage.
“I will say this,” Ali said sincerely, “my job is always the same: I have to look at what I am doing and be responsible for it.” He says he and everyone working on the film put a lot of energy into the project and he does not want to “throw away” what everyone has done.
“I respect the family…and Don 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.” Ali says he treats everyone with respect and will continue to do so.
Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and immediately became a crowd pleaser and awards-season contender. The film re-creates the concert tour of piano virtuoso Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a black man touring the Deep South in 1962 with only a Bronx-bred burly Italian driver and temporarily unemployed Copacabana bouncer, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as security from the dangers of the Jim Crow era. Polar opposites, the two men discover substance beneath each other’s surfaces and are reshaped by the hard miles they travel together. Here is Ali’s acceptance speech.