The Very Versatile Career Of Viggo Mortensen | Film News


Aragon still resonates with the name Viggo Mortensen but if the newly Academy Award Nominee could have easily succeeded as a sex symbol or super hero, he chose quite a different way. Following the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Mortensen acted in more than fifteen films, largely within the independent sphere, in three different languages and is already planning his first directorial debut.


Mortensen is much more unpredictable and versatile than his famous epic role would suggest.


From the Greece-set thriller, Two Faces of January, by the Iranian director, Hossein Amini, to the experimental period drama Jajua by Argentinean director, Lisandro Alonson, Mortensen refers to the films he does as “off the beaten track”.


Mortensen also continued his long time collaboration with writer-director, David Cronenberg, by starring as Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method, a small town diner-owner turned violent hero in A History Of Violence and as a Russian mobster in Eastern Promises.


If Mortenson looks for versatility in the roles he takes on, he also enjoys it in his personal life, being a painter, photographer, poet and publisher through his own independent publishing house, Perceval Press, launched in 2002.


His latest performance, Captain Fantastic, landed him a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards this year. The film follows Ben, a hippie patriarch, raising his five children in the Pacific Northwest forest, adding yet another unique role to his filmography. When news comes that his wife has passed, Ben must return to civilization, leave his paradise and confront the very idea of what it means to be a parent.


Director Matt Ross, admits that Mortensen’s personal relationship to the material was essential to the role. He added that the actor often brought his own props to the set. In this new role, Mortensen spent most of this scenes acting with young actors which brought him a brand new challenge.


“I like surprises, like being challenged and inspired by other actors. Younger actors, especially the very youngest ones, tend to surprise you on a regular basis. They will not usually play a scene the same way twice”.


Perhaps Mortensen’s fondness of versatility comes from the diversity he enjoyed himself, spending the first decade of his life living in South America, speaking Spanish, English as well as Danish with his father. He admits, that his linguistic flexibility had a great influence on his early career, encouraging him to take on more global and diverse projects.


“The more things you’re willing to try, the more possibilities you have for storytelling”.


His latest project is directing. Mortensen admitted in a Q&A earlier this month that he had already written three screenplays, including one on its way to being financed. We can only hope that he will bring as much diversity and originality in his characters as in the ones he has continually been portraying.


Captain Fantastic was released early September in the UK and also stars George MacKay and Annalise Basso.



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