Green Book Movie Poster

Trivia for Green Book

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  • Italian-American stand up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco plays Tony's fast-talking brother-in-law, Johnny.
  • This is the first dramatic film directed by either of the Farrelly Brothers.
  • The title and subject matter are a reference to "The Negro Motorist Green Book," also known as "The Negro Travelers' Green Book." Published from 1936-1966, the guide helped African-American travelers find lodging, restaurants, and other businesses that would serve them. It eventually covered most of North America, plus Bermuda and the Caribbean.
  • The film premiered at TIFF (Toronto international Film Festival) in Canada in September 2018.
  • In the Vallelonga family scenes, Tony and Dolores' real family members play most of the relatives.
  • Viggo Mortensen's wardrobe contains many red and blue striped shirts, a tribute to his favorite soccer team, San Lorenzo de Almagro.
  • Viggo Mortensen revealed that Louis Venere, one of Nick Vallelonga's real-life relatives, caused continuity problems in the family dinner scenes. He kept eating the food after the director had yelled cut, saying, "what props? This is good fish, c'mon!"
  • The film is dedicated to "Larry the Crow," a bird that hung around the shooting location. Viggo Mortensen cared for the animal after it was hit by a car.
  • Nick Vallelonga says he spent a lot of the shoot in tears because the actors' portrayals of his parents were so vivid. "Linda Cardellini, I can't even look at all. She just makes me lose it."
  • According to Nick Vallelonga, Johnny Williams, the actor who played Fat Paulie (who competes against Tony in the hot dog eating contest), actually ate hot dogs with Tony Lip.
  • The film won the People's Choice Award at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in September 2018, where it premiered.
  • Kris Bowers, the film's composer, was Mahershala Ali's piano double.
  • Per Viggo Mortensen's suggestion, the movie has no opening credits or title card. This immerses viewers in the action and makes them forget they're watching a film.
  • The real Tony Lip is best known for playing Carmine Lupertazzi on The Sopranos and has had roles in several Martin Scorsese movies.
  • This was Universal Pictures' second Univisium 2.00:1 release since Jurassic World (2015) and the third Univisium shot film of 2018 after Hereditary (2018) and A Simple Favor (2018)
  • Prior to filming, Viggo Mortensen was invited to meet Nick Vallelonga's family over a six-hour dinner. He said, "It almost destroyed me because I hadn't gained the weight yet - I hadn't expanded my stomach... It was almost lethal..." When the family assumed he was declining more helpings was because he didn't like the food, he felt compelled to finish his plate. But every time he finished a plate, they brought another one. "I said goodbye. We did a picture together. I limped to my rental car and I made a big show of 'oh, I'm driving back to Manhattan!' And I drove around the corner, parked the car, leaned my seat back, undid my belt and lay there for an hour, just groaning."
  • The film is described as: "A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South." However, neither "Italian-American" nor "African-American" were used widely in the 1960s; those are terms of recent vintage.
  • A theatre marquee in the background of one town shot shows Lawrence of Arabia (1962) playing. Viggo Mortensen starred in Hidalgo (2004) alongside Omar Sharif, one of Lawrence of Arabia's stars.
  • In the shared hotel room scene, some graffiti appears on the wall to the right of Tony's head: "CASL de A", clearly written by Viggo Mortensen, whose favorite soccer team is Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro.
  • The pizza scene is drawn from real life: Nick Vallelonga said Tony Lip used to order a whole, unsliced pizza pie, fold it and eat it. Upon hearing the anecdote, Viggo Mortensen insisted they try to fit it into the movie. Peter Farrelly protested, saying there were enough funny eating scenes, but agreed to try it. When the crew burst out laughing, he agreed to leave the scene in.
  • The role of Bobby Rydell, opening act of the film, was originally pushed by producers to be played by Drew Taggart, lead singer of the Chainsmokers, but when He was asked to send in an audition of the song he declined. His contract was pulled and auditions were open. Peter Farrelly and Charles Wessler found Actor/Singer, Von Lewis, to fill the part.
  • The Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket is not of the period. In the 60's KFC used the orange and white bucket.
  • Costume designer Betsy Heimann fitted Viggo Mortensen's clothing quite tightly; implying Tony bought his suits many years and folded pizzas earlier, and his finances were too constrained to buy new ones. She also explained that the fashion at the time was for trousers to be worn up around the waist, not below the belly. She noticed that Viggo incorporated this into his performance, as Tony regularly pulls his pants up when he walks around, and thought, "He's doing that for me!"
  • In the scene where Don first gets into the car, there is a poster advertising the November 10, 1962 folk-music Hootenanny. Headlined by Pete Seeger, this was Bob Dylan's first Carnegie Hall appearance.
  • The piano piece with which Doc wows the crowd at the bar is Chopin's Etude Op. 25 No. 11 "Winter Wind". It is considered one of the most difficult pieces to play, earning a 9 (highest) rating on the Henle Levels of Difficulty scale.
  • The song Tony sings as he arrives back at home is Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle, a traditional Italian Christmas carol.
  • Despite being filmed in Louisiana, the winter storm scenes were real. Viggo Mortensen convinced Peter Farrelly and the crew to extend their shooting hours on the hunch that there was snow in the air. To their surprise, it kept falling and accumulated.
  • The film was entirely shot in Louisiana, with the exception of one day in New York. The scene where Tony stops for a bathroom break, and the New York City exterior shots were all shot on the same day.
  • Professor Longhair's "Go To The Mardi Gras" is included both in the soundtrack (KFC scene) and the end credits, as a nod to New Orleans, where the film's production was based.
  • Despite being filmed in Louisiana, the winter storm scenes were real. Viggo Mortensen convinced Peter Farrelly and the crew to put in some overtime on the hunch that there was snow in the air. To their surprise, it kept falling and accumulated. They put in a lot of overtime, and were able to cancel a later shoot planned to capture snow scenes in Minnesota.
  • Doc's chess set has no black squares or pieces.
  • A local movie Southern movie theater is showing 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Film didn't go into widespread release until February, 1963. It wasn't seen in NY or La until Dec 21, 1962.
  • One of the songs played by the Don Shirley trio during a montage is "Happy Talk" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific", which, like "Green Book", also deals with the issue of racism. It is unclear, however, if the song was intentionally chosen because of this.
  • The cars the group drives are 1962 Cadillac Sedan DeVilles. The production used three, two for driving and one for static filming. The "hero car" was so loaded down with filming equipment the coil springs collapsed and the roof caved in.
  • Viggo Mortensen really ate the hot dogs in the Gorman's scene. The production crew provided him with a bucket to spit out the chewed bits between takes, but he found that even less appealing than just swallowing the hot dogs. He ended up eating 15.
  • The only onscreen drink that Tony doesn't take in one gulp is the KFC soda.
  • This is Peter Farrelly's first drama after years of filming comedies. Mahershala Ali referred to him as "a first-time filmmaker with 25 years of experience".
  • Peter Farrelly said he tried to play down the laughs, conscious of his background as a comedic filmmaker. According to him, the interplay of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen elevated the conversations as written in the script. He cited the "Orpheus" dialogue as an example where the actors' reactions really made the scene.
  • Mahershala Ali claims that, in their first production dinner to go over the script, Viggo Mortensen excitedly presented a selection of crucifixes and jade rocks to Peter Farrelly. ("Pete, I found a perfect jade rock!") Farrelly used that stone in the movie.
  • Viggo Mortensen did so much on-camera eating he claims not to have eaten any of the catered food on set, and would retreat to his trailer during lunch to lie down and undo his belt. "I couldn't tell you what the catering was. I heard the catering was great!"
  • Asked about his go-to meal to gain weight, Viggo Mortensen said, "It was Italian food. It was a lot of pizza, a lot of pasta. But it was mainly never saying no to a second or a third helping. Never not trying ALL the desserts. And preferably eating the biggest meal - with a full complement of desserts and appetizers - just before lying down to go to sleep."
  • Peter Farrelly says Viggo Mortensen, a perfectionist, insisted on doing the milk-chugging scene three times because he wasn't happy with the way he had been holding the bottle.
  • Nick Vallelonga pulled a fast one in hiring his real life family members to play the onscreen family members. He let Viggo Mortensen believe Peter Farrelly had cast them, but suggested to Farrelly that Viggo had vouched for them as actors. The two only figured out the truth a month into the press tour.
  • Viggo Mortensen would play Tony Lip's Sopranos episodes in the background while getting ready in the morning, to get into his rhythms of speech and accent.
  • Based on Estonian media the prototype of Oleg is actually Estonian cellist Jüri Täht.
  • Nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture and leading and supporting actors.
  • Dimiter D. Marinov was cast for the role of Oleg only at a second round. First time Marinov had been rejected due to the fact that while being a skilled violinist he did not play cello at all. Marinov took cello tutors for 5 days, attended a casting again and this time was chosen for the role.
  • The film is based on interviews with his father and Shirley, as well as letters his father wrote to his mother. The film is named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travelers written by Victor Hugo Green, to help them find motels and restaurants that would accept them.
  • Green Book had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2018, where it won the People's Choice Award.
  • It won the National Board of Review award of best film of 2018, and was also chosen as one of the Top 10 by the American Film Institute, and also received numerous award nominations, including winning the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture and Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. The film also received five nominations at the 91st Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Ali), Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
  • On November 7, 2018, during a promotional panel discussion, Mortensen said the word "nigger". He prefaced the sentence with, "I don't like saying this word", and went on to compare dialogue "that's no longer common in conversation" to the period in which the film is set. Mortensen apologized the next day, saying that "my intention was to speak strongly against racism" and that he was "very sorry that I did use the full word last night, and will not utter it again."
  • Shirley's relatives condemned the film, stating they were not contacted by studio representatives until after development, and that it misrepresented Shirley's relationship with his family. Don's brother, Maurice Shirley, said "My brother never considered Tony to be his 'friend'; he was an employee, his chauffeur (who resented wearing a uniform and cap). This is why context and nuance are so important. The fact that a successful, well-to-do Black artist would employ domestics that did NOT look like him, should not be lost in translation."
  • Mahershala Ali responded with an apology to Shirley's nephew, Edwin Shirley III, saying that "I did the best I could with the material I had" and that he was not aware that there were "close relatives with whom I could have consulted to add some nuance to the character." Writer-director Peter Farrelly said he was under the impression there "weren't a lot of family members" still alive, that they did not take major liberties with the story, and that relatives he was aware of had been invited to a private screening for friends and family. Jazz artist Quincy Jones said to a crowd after a screening: "I had the pleasure of being acquainted with Don Shirley while I was working as an arranger in New York in the '50s, and he was without question one of America's greatest pianists ... as skilled a musician as Leonard Bernstein or Van Cliburn ... So it is wonderful that his story is finally being told and celebrated. Mahershala, you did an absolutely fantastic job playing him, and I think yours and Viggo's performances will go down as one of the great friendships captured on film." On January 14, 2019, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar published a piece in The Hollywood Reporter defending Green Book despite its alleged historical inaccuracies. Abdul-Jabbar argued that "(w)hile such discrepancies (about the historicity of some of the depicted events) may irk family members, they don't really matter because those plot details are about getting to a greater truth than whatever the mundane facts are."
  • Monique Judge, a columnist for The Root, stated the film was historically inaccurate in its portrayal of the Jim Crow south. She said that the film "is definitely problematic" and fails to reflect "just how bad it was for blacks who traveled through and lived there." She said the film fails to convey the "gripping fear that black people feel even today whenever they drive down those dark country roads at night-let alone in 1962, when the film is set."
  • Little information circulates about Don Shirley, the only documents available being the booklets of his albums he wrote himself. While some details of his journey are contradictory, he would have joined the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of St. Petersburg at the age of 9 and gave his first concert with the Boston Pops Orchestra at age 18 before obtaining several doctorates and degrees. to learn to speak several languages. His first album, Tonal Expressions, was released in 1955 and Stravinsky, a contemporary legendary pianist, said of him that "his virtuosity is worthy of the gods". If it was destined for a career in the classical, Don Shirley was unfortunately dissuaded at the time by the leaders of the recording industry who thought it would be difficult to be accepted by the white public.
  • The friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip lasted more than 50 years. After the initial two-month trip, the duo ended up on a tour of about a year. The musician then asked Tony Lip to become his driver and bodyguard during his European tour, but he refused because he did not want to be separated from his family any longer. Both men died in 2013, 3 months apart. For Nick Vallelonga, Don Shirley was a friend of the family.
  • -Dramatic turn:--Green Book is Peter Farrelly's first solo feature film, known for his comedies with his brother Bobby such as Mary at all costs, Mad about Irene and Dumb and Dumber. It is also his first foray into a dramatic register. While working on the comic series Loudermilk, the director accidentally met the scriptwriter Brian Currie while the latter was preparing to write Green Book with Nick Vallelonga. Packed with history, Peter Farrelly keeps thinking about it during the weeks that follow and finally offers the two writers to participate in the writing of the film. Once this step is complete, he submits the script to his production partner Charles Wessler. For the director, this dramatic turn is not so surprising.
  • Knowing that he would one day make a film of the story that links Don Shirley and his father, Nick Vallelonga asked the latter to tell him again what had happened during filmed interviews. He also had a long talk with Shirley. His notes but also the memories of his father such as photographs, brochures, postcards and even the road map used during their journey nourished the writing of the scenario.
  • Although it was held in 1962, Green Book resonates with today's America, as Viggo Mortensen points out.
  • Viggo Mortensen was Peter Farrelly's first choice for the role of Tony Lip. The director sent him the script without really believing, the actor being rare in the cinema. The latter was seduced immediately by the role and the project and accepted after a few weeks of hesitation, afraid of not being up to it. He then left Spain where he lives to go to New York where he met the Vallelonga family. He also listened to and watched Tony's recordings made by his son, toured the Bronx and New Jersey, and even watched the entire Sopranos series. The actor has blended so well into the role that he has managed to forget his Danish roots.
  • To prepare to play Don Shirley, Mahershala Ali worked with the composer of the film's music, Kris Bowers. The absence of archive footage of Don Shirley, however, made his work difficult. Nevertheless, he managed to glean some information from Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie, as well as a documentary about Carnegie Hall, a New York concert hall above which Shirley lived in a loft with sixty other artists.
  • If Green Book focuses on Tony Lip and Don Shirley, we should not forget the two other members of the Don Shirley Trio, George, the double bassist, and Oleg, the cellist. Peter Farrelly has sought out both musicians who knew how to play comedy and actors capable of playing instruments. He finally chose veteran actors, musicians in their spare time: Mike Hatton plays the double bass while Dimiter D. Marinov plays the violin for fifteen years. If he had not played a cello before, he worked his audition day and night with a teacher, with only five days of preparation. Once engaged, production paid him lessons. In the space of a month, he mastered the six pieces played in the film.
  • To interpret the members of the Vallelonga family, Peter Farrelly appealed to the Vallelonga themselves. Nick Vallelonga, who plays a mafia godfather in the film, also introduced the director to his father's friends. These add a touch of authenticity to the scenes of Copacabana, although many of them had never played comedy. Linda Cardellini also wore the bracelet and the ring that belonged to her character.
  • It is the pianist Kris Bowers who composes the music of the film. It is also he who plays the pieces of Don Shirley and doubles Mahershala Ali. A musician since he was four, Bowers has already composed film music, but Green Book is the first studio film of this size. Like Shirley, Bowers plays exclusively on Steinway pianos, all made by hand, because "they project the sound like no other instrument".
  • Viggo Mortensen took 20 pounds for the role of Tony Lip. He fed on Italian cuisine, mostly pizza and pasta. His technique, which he does not recommend because it is bad for health, has consisted in swallowing at dinner rich meals accompanied by one or more desserts just before going to bed. He admits that losing those pounds was much more difficult and less fun than taking them.
  • Upon the film's release, the Shirley family objected to the truthfulness of the film, claiming that Tony and Doc were not friends; that theirs "was an employer-employee relationship," In January, 2019, audio recordings of an interview with Don Shirley emerged, in which he stated, "I trusted him implicitly... You see... not only was [Tony] my driver, we never had an employer/employee relationship. You don't have time for that bullshit. My life is in this man's hands!... So you've got to be friendly with one another."
  • The Italian-language scenes in the script simply read, "They speak Italian." Viggo Mortensen queried Peter Farrelly about it, and Farrelly encouraged him to construct the Italian dialogue himself. Drawing on Viggo's own experiences from overhearing Italian in Buenos Aires, the result is a combination of Calabrian and the "cobbled together" Italian that forms in diaspora communities where people of different regions converge. He also made an effort to make the language old-fashioned, as the slang and vocabulary the family spoke would have dated from the time of the Vallelonga and Venere fathers' immigration. Viggo experienced this himself after spending his childhood in Argentina and returning as an adult to find all his slang was out of date.
  • The scene where Tony Lip is drinking milk could be a reference to the movie Rebel without a cause, in the scene where Jim Stark (played by James Dean) is drinking milk and rubs his head with the bottle. Both scene are exactly the same.
  • This is the third movie for which Viggo Mortensen received a Best Actor Oscar nomination (after Eastern Promises (2007) and Captain Fantastic (2016)), but the first of the three where he doesn't do full frontal nudity.
  • Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Moonlight (2016), in which he plays father figure to a gay, black male. Here, he is again nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, but now for playing a gay, black male.
  • Tony Lip's children in real-life were younger than portrayed in the film. Older child actors were cast in order to be eligible for more hours on-set per day.
  • Lawrence of Arabia was released in New York City on 16th December 1962. It would still have been a marquee movie at Christmastime.
  • Peter Farrelly claimed that despite signing on Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali (fresh off an Oscar win) to the project, it was very difficult to find a studio that would finance the film for $20 million dollars. He was usually offered budgets of $5 million, which he considered too low for a period piece.
  • According to Peter Farrelly, Viggo Mortensen was surprisingly insecure playing an Italian-American, despite himself being conversational in Italian. Mortensen insisted on gaining the weight to better get in character, even though Farrelly told him it was unnecessary since Mortensen looked nothing like the real Tony Lip anyway.
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