“Green Book,” the film about a racist white man being hired to drive a gay, Black doctor through the Jim Crow South is currently in theaters.
The movie stars Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley, who was also a musician and Viggo Mortensen, who plays Tony Lip the driver.
And while Lip’s son Nick Vallelonga, who co-wrote the film, said everything in it is true, Shirley’s family said it’s loaded with inaccuracies.
Especially the parts where Lip exposes Shirley to fried chicken for the first time introduces him to Black music and helps him establish a connection to the Black community since he was supposedly alone much of the time.
“Everything in the film is true,” Vallelonga told NBC Nightly News. “The only creative license we took was combining some stories, time-wise, what happened in this state might have happened in another state. But everything was true and that was really important to me and Pete the director, that we told the truth.”
But the Shirleys said their beloved family member was in fact connected to them, as well as the Black community. And Dr. Shirley’s only living brother, who refuses to see the film, told NPR’s “1A Movie Club” that Lip didn’t introduce his sibling to fried chicken after all.
Carol Shirley Kimble, the late doctor’s niece, also blasted the film and said it makes Lip the hero, as opposed to her uncle who was incredibly ahead of his time.
“There was no due diligence done to afford my family and my deceased uncle the respect of properly representing him, his legacy, his worth and the excellence in which he operated and the excellence in which he lived,” she told NPR.
“It’s once again a depiction of a white man’s version of a Black man’s life. My uncle was an incredibly proud man and an incredibly accomplished man, as are the majority of people in my family,” added Kimble. “And to depict him as less than and to depict him and take away from him and make the story about a hero of a white man for this incredibly accomplished Black man is insulting at best.”
The makers of “Green Book” have yet to respond to the Shirley family.