‘Green Book’ Director Peter Farrelly Sorry for Flashing Penis in the Past: ‘I Was an Idiot’

Farrelly says he was trying to be funny and regrets it

Peter Farrelly
Peter Farrelly

Three days after his film “Green Book” won top honors at the Golden Globes, director Peter Farrelly apologized for repeatedly flashing his penis two decades ago in an attempt to be funny.

“True. I was an idiot,” he said in a statement. “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.”

The embarrassment from his past comes during an Oscar season when any questions about a potential nominees’ past can derail his or her hopes of a nomination. Wednesday was a bad day for “Green Book” all around: The film’s writer, Nick Vallelonga, deleted his Twitter feed after an old tweet resurfaced agreeing with President Trump that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks.

The flashing accounts appeared Wednesday in a story by New York Magazine TheCut, which cited a 1998 Newsweek piece that said the director would sometimes flash his penis in an attempt at comedy.

Actress Cameron Diaz and then 20th Century Fox executive Tom Rothman both told Newsweek they had been subjected to the gag.

“When a director shows you his penis the first time you meet him, you’ve got to recognize the creative genius,” Diaz said at the time.

Farrelly also talked about the flashing routine in a 1998 interview with Observer, calling it “just a joke” in which he also enlisted his brother Bobby. At the time, the Farrelly brothers were best known for comedies that combined wit with sweetness and gross-out humor.

“‘It’s not like I make a habit of just whipping it out and saying, ‘Hey! Look! My cock!’ We do a joke where, it’s like, Bob says, ‘Pete’s been really crazy, he went out and spent $500 on a belt buckle.’ I go, ‘Bob, it’s an investment, it’s not a big deal.’ He says, ‘You’re stupid! $500 on a belt buckle!’ I say it’s not stupid … Finally she says, ‘Let me see it.’ And I lift my shirt and have it…hanging over.”

“Green Book” received the audience prize at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, giving it awards momentum that led to three wins at the Globes on Sunday night. But the film has also faced a cultural backlash, particularly following a feature piece posted by Shadow and Act in which the family of jazz musician Dr. Don Shirley — played by Mahershala Ali in the film — called “Green Book” a “symphony of lies,” saying that Shirley never had a deep relationship with his white driver, Tony Vallelonga, as the film suggests.

The family also disputed claims made by screenwriter Nick Vallelonga, the son of Tony Vallelonga who also won a Globe for his script, that Shirley gave him permission to make the movie. They say that Ali later contacted them to apologize for not reaching out, saying he did not know that Shirley had close relatives.