Peter Farrelly, the director of Golden Globe winner and Oscar frontrunner Green Book, used to enjoy showing people his penis. In restaurants, on film sets, and god knows where else.
Yesterday (Jan. 9), New York Magazine’s The Cut resurfaced two articles from 1998 in which Farrelly boasted about a disturbing “joke” he’d pull on film sets. A Newsweek story opened with this lede:
THE FARRELLY BROTHERS HAVE something they want to show you–and it isn’t their new movie. In fact, it’s something you’d probably rather not see at all. Something of Peter’s. Something anatomical in nature. The Farrellys have concocted a variety of clever ploys designed to get you to look at it. Bobby, 40, is the straight man, all innocence as he lays the trap. Then Peter–lankier, edgier and a year older–delivers the coup de grace. You may think you’re going to be examining a mysterious blotch on Peter’s torso, or checking out his new watchband. The reality is a good deal more shocking, but as actress Cameron Diaz puts it, “When a director shows you his penis the first time you meet him, you’ve got to recognize the creative genius.”
Diaz worked with the Farrelly brothers on the 1998 romantic comedy There’s Something About Mary—a film many remember best today for a scene in which Diaz’s character mistakes semen hanging from Ben Stiller’s ear for hair gel.
Farrelly described his flashing habit in greater detail in an article in Observer that same year, The Cut found:
“It’s a joke,” he explains patiently. “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 …” he grins, “hanging over.”
The Green Book director goes on to admit to Observer that he pulled this gag “easily 500 times.” When asked if he prefers people laughing at his penis or at his films, Farrelly replied, “I don’t like it when they laugh at my penis…But I do like it when they stare.”
CNN found another 1998 article, this one in the Sunday Times, in which Diaz recounted her experience meeting the Farrelly brothers in a restaurant, where Peter exposed his penis to her.
Not long after The Cut’s story published, Farrelly apologized for his conduct. “True. I was an idiot,” he told The Cut through a representative. “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.”
These revelations occurred the same day that a 2015 tweet by Nick Vallelonga—a Green Book screenwriter and the son of the real-life chauffeur whom Viggo Mortensen portrays in the film—was resurfaced that agreed with US president Donald Trump’s thoroughly debunked claim that he witnessed Muslims cheering after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. “100% correct,” Vallelonga, who’s played a very visible role in Green Book‘s awards campaign, tweeted at Trump three years ago. “Muslims in Jersey City when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS News.” Vallelonga has since deleted his Twitter account.
Green Book tells the road-trip story of Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a renowned black pianist, and his Italian-American chauffeur Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen) touring the US Deep South in the 1960s. Purported to be a heartwarming story about race relations, the film has been criticized for being tone deaf and simplifying complicated racial dynamics. Shirley’s family has also condemned the film, calling it a “symphony of lies.”
Still, before yesterday’s revelations, Green Book was one of the frontrunners for an Oscar nomination for best picture, coming off its big Golden Globes win for best comedy movie. Farrelly was also a favorite to land a best director nomination, and the script Vallelonga co-wrote was a contender for best screenplay. Oscars voting for members of the film Academy started on Jan. 7 and runs through Jan. 14. Nominees will be announced Jan. 22.