Viggo Mortensen on Learning the Real Story Behind 'Green Book'

"He opened the doors, very generously, to everything he knew, all the materials he had about his father, the recordings, which we [Mortensen and co-star Mahershala Ali] both listened to," Mortensen told the Actors Roundtable of screenwriter Nick Vallelonga.

“Acting is the easiest and most enjoyable thing that I know as an occupation when it works,” Green Book star Viggo Mortensen told the Actors Roundtable.

“Acting is a very intimate thing, in a sense that you are exposing yourself, a little, a lot — depends on the moment, depends on the character," he continued. "And when you’re doing that with someone else, like in Green Book, if we didn’t do that for each other, it wouldn’t work.”

Mortensen stepped into the shoes of Tony Lip in Peter Farrelly’s film and upon signing onto the role, he reached out to his character’s real-life son, Nick Vallelonga, who originally brought the story of Tony Lip and Dr. Don Shirley to the director.

“Long story short, he opened the doors, very generously, to everything he knew, all the materials he had about his father, the recordings, which we [Mortensen and co-star Mahershala Ali] both listened to,” Mortensen said, referring to Vallelonga.

Vallelonga told the actor the one wish his father had before turning his journey into a film, saying, “You have to go talk to Don Shirley and you have to get him to corroborate.”

"Don Shirley was particular about certain things and he told Nick, 'First of all, everything that Tony’s saying here, yes, it happened, and I’ll tell you some other things, or I’ll give you the perspective on certain moments, but I don’t want you to tell the story until I’m dead,'" said Mortensen.

Added the actor: “He was a very private man. When you see the movie, you’ll see there’s probably good reasons.”