In a surprise win, a Lynn native won best original screenplay at the Golden Globes for “Green Book.”
Brian Hayes Currie, who grew up in the city, shared the honor with co-writers Nick Vallelonga, and Peter Farrelly, who also directed the film. They looked astonished when their names were called Sunday night in Los Angeles.
Odds were on “The Favourite,” the outrageous period comedy starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, or “Vice,” with a devil-inspired performance by Christian Bale as former Vice President Dick Cheney.
But “Green Book,” which was released in November and disappeared from theaters after a few weeks, won the hearts of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes voters.
Based on a true story critics have called a mismatched, buddy road trip movie, it’s the tale of Dr. Donald Shirley, a classically-trained African-American pianist played by Mahershala Ali. He tours the South in 1962 with chauffeur-bodyguard, Frank Anthony Vallelonga, an Italian New York City bouncer, portrayed by Viggo Mortensen.
Given the turbulent racial times, the eight-week road trip concert tour of the Jim Crow South is filled with danger.
The film reflects an ugly time in U.S. history when Southern blacks were not allowed equal access, given impossible “literacy” tests to vote, and some were killed as police looked the other way.
Writing was not the only award the film won. Ali captured best performance by an actor in a supporting role for his portrayal of Shirley. The film also received the nod for best motion picture in the musical or comedy category.
Vallelonga took to the stage first and got one of the evening’s biggest laughs when he said, “Sorry it took so long for us to get here, we’re the writers. We were seated in the kitchen.”
After his short speech, Currie approached the podium to speak, but the music played and the voiceover gave viewers a heads-up on what’s coming next.
The 57-year-old Currie, who moved to Peabody as an adolescent, could not be reached for comment.
Last fall, he told The Item the chance to co-write the story was an accident.
“One of the guys I met years ago when I worked in nightclubs was Nick Vallelonga, my buddy, a co-writer of the film and whose father this is about,” said Currie, a graduate of St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers. “Nick kept this story close to the vest because he wanted to make it himself. When he finally told me, I offered to write and produce it with him, and he agreed.”
Currie pitched the idea to director Peter Farrelly, best known for “Dumb & Dumber” and “Something About Mary,” with brother, Bobby Farrelly.
Peter Farrelly liked the idea and a film was born.
While the story is compelling, Currie said the casting of Mortensen and Ali was brilliant and could have made all the difference.
“Peter Farrelly came up with genius idea of Viggo Mortensen and Ali,” he said. “As a writer, when you have actors that can make it look that easy, it makes us, as writers, look smart.”
The film title is taken from “The Negro Motorist Green-Book,” a travel guide published from 1936 to 1966 to advise black travelers on where to stay and what to avoid in the South.
“Green Book” has grossed $35.2 million at the box office since its release and Universal Pictures is planning a wide theatrical distribution in the wake of its Golden Globe wins.