Before he gained his international fame thanks to playing the role of Aragon in the epic film trilogy “Lord of the Rings,” Viggo Mortensen inhabited supporting roles in Hollywood movies, but instead of using his newfound stardom to take lead roles in big movies, he parlayed it into supporting art house movies, on which he often worked without pay and sometimes invested his own money. Among these movies were: David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category, and “A Dangerous Method,” for which he garnered a Golden Globe nomination.
Over the years, Mortensen has performed in international movies, such as Argentine’s “Jauja” and French-Algerian “Far From Men,” and inhabited characters from different nationalities. He tells me in this BBC TV interview that the diversity in his artistic choices is informed by his background.
Indeed, he was born in New York to a Danish father and an American mother, then moved to Venezuela with his family when he was a child, and later settled in Argentina. Following his parents’ divorce, he returned to New York to attend college, and after his graduation, he moved again to Europe and spent time in London, Spain and Denmark.
Many of the characters he plays are solitary, aloof and enigmatic. “Those are the characters that I am attracted to,” he says. Recently, he played a controversial father Ben in Captain Fantastic, which explores fatherhood, education, socialism, capitalism, grief and other profound social and philosophical issues through the depiction of a family made of 6 kids and their eccentric father, who raises them in a forest, far away from urban society in order to protect them from the corrupt values of capitalism and pop culture. Ben demands total obedience from his children, but he loses control over them during a journey through the real world on their way to their mother’s funeral. The children begin to doubt their father’s methods and demand a change.
“Ben is a guy that I don’t agree with, but I would like to meet and talk to,” Mortensen says. Indeed, Ben is a fascinating character, who ,like every thinker in this world, is trying to find the right path to a decent existence. His problem is that he sees only one path, and coerces his kids to follow him.
“Captain Fantastic” received its world premiere at the 2016’s Sundance Film Festiva, and was applauded by the audience and critics alike. “It’s the best script I have ever read,” his star says.