Viggo Mortensen Reveals How He Became Freud in ‘A Dangerous Method’
Viggo Mortensen in 'A Dangerous Method' (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
Fresh from his Golden Globe supporting actor nomination for playing the proud papa of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, "A Dangerous Method" star Viggo Mortensen, 53, talked exclusively to Yahoo! Movies about brilliant thinkers — Freud, Carl Jung and director David Cronenberg — and his A-list co-stars Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley.
Thelma Adams: At the movie's core is a mentor/pupil, father/son relationship between Freud and Jung. You've now made three movies with Cronenberg — "A History of Violence," "Eastern Promises" and, now, "A Dangerous Method." Is there a parallel?
Viggo Mortensen: To some degree it's similar in the sense that, to start with, Jung and Freud had a great deal of affection for each other. With David, our friendship is first and foremost: respecting and liking, and a similar sense of humor. I've learned a lot and stretched with him. In "Eastern Promises," he asked a lot of me and I asked a lot of myself.
TA: And with Freud, is there more scrutiny because it's a historical character whose reputation precedes him?
VG: Freud was even more of a stretch. And, as for my friendship with David, at least so far we haven't had the oedipal thing that was played out by Jung and Freud. We get along and hopefully we'll continue to do so.
TA: Do you have any plans to collaborate again?
VG: David always has a couple of things cooking. One possibility is to do a sequel to "Eastern Promises." The end left you wondering what would happen to my character now in that criminal London subculture. It was an ending that asks for, or allows for, a sequel like the "Godfather," like Michael Corleone. What will happen next? I'm not a fan of sequels, although "Godfather 2" was as good as the original, maybe somewhat better. With David you can count on something interesting. He's never done a sequel before. It's not like with Woody Allen where he gets to do a movie every single year.
TA: That may not be a bad thing — some times I wish that Allen would take a year off and meditate.
VG: David challenges himself. His subject matter and shooting style varies. He doesn't look back. People like to compartmentalize him, but he's very clever about dancing out of it. He'd be as happy as any of us who admire his work if he were nominated for an Oscar. But, unlike a lot of name veterans, that seem to calcify a bit, or repeat themselves, or play to a persona and make less and less interesting movies, he makes more interesting choices.
TA: And how does that feel to an actor in his movies.
VG: When you work with him the excitement is contagious. You feel like you're with a recently graduated film student who is absolutely brilliant. He acts like a kid about shooting every day. It helps you feel excited about it too.
TA: And how did this flow over into "A Dangerous Method," a period piece set in Europe about the friendship, and ultimate falling out, of Freud and Jung. Cronenberg told "Filmmaker" magazine that he was looking to "resurrect" those historical figures as flesh and blood.
VG: I did go along with an attempt to not caricature, not to make some abstraction but to bring back to life Freud and Jung, in their 50s and 30s. In this case this was as thorough, as accurate and meticulous as Merchant Ivory, for example, and because of that some people said "It's not a Cronenberg movie." But he shot it. He made it his.