Filming Eastern Promises

Image Peter Mountain.
© Focus Features.

Filming Eastern Promises

Nikolai's charming nickname is "The Undertaker." Around the set, his squared-off Dracula pompadour acquired a nickname, too: "The Soviet Bloc."

The Great Dane
Men's Vogue
By Phoebe Eaton
March 2008

Viggo Mortensen looks all too convincing in David Cronenberg's new crime drama, Eastern Promises. Cronenberg had Oscar-winning makeup artist Stefan Dupuis apply authentic Russian-mafia tattoos to Mortensen for his role as a ruthless gangster. The other day, Mortensen popped into a Russian-owned soup counter near the London set. "The place went silent," says our spy, "not because of his star power, but because the people recognized the tattoos - and were appropriately intimidated. Later, when it became clear Viggo didn't know 10 words of Russian, the atmosphere relaxed."

New York Daily News
January 2007

"Viggo is generous, he is constantly bringing small gifts. That must be a result of his education and the numerous trips he takes. And when you act with him in a scene, even when his part is done, he stays close to the camera in order to help you. We function very differently, especially in the way we channel our energy. He is always calm, and speaks softly. I have a more brutal side. I learned a lot from knowing him."

Vincent Cassel
Viggo Mortensen the Insatiable
Studio Magazine
By Sophie Benamon
November 2007

French co-star Vincent Cassels says he and Mortensen "tried to use as much Russian as possible because, to be realistic, when two Russian characters are speaking together, they wouldn't be speaking English, so we kept trying to add more Russian phrases. David Cronenberg was going, 'What are you two saying to each other?' "

"It was like some creeping disease," Cronenberg says. "You wake up one morning and everyone is speaking Russian."

Globe and Mail
10 Sept 2007

"I had days where I was only speaking Russian, and David was like, 'Jesus I didn't realize I was making a foreign film!'

Viggo Mortensen
Ties that bind
by Melora Koepke, Hour CA
13 Sept 2007

'We used a lot of the London Russian émigré community as extras, and they adored it and said it was totally accurate. They were bowled over by how well Viggo and the others embodied Russianness. It'll probably be Putin's favourite movie.'

David Cronenberg
Q+A : David Cronenberg, Film Festival Preview
30 Aug 2007

"It would be silly if the whole movie seemed realistic and gritty and all of a sudden this scene is you're clearly trying to avoid seeing someone's body entirely or something like that. It would just be dumb. So there was never any doubt about it. It wasn't like we got there on the day and it was like, 'Let's do it this way.' No, I knew going in what I was getting into."

Viggo Mortensen on the nude fight scene
Viggo Mortensen Interview
By Jordan Riefe, Underground Online
11 Sept 2007

"I knew it would be relatively painful, and it was.
There's no pads. But the two guys playing my attackers were good - one guy was a Georgian who had been in the Russian military, and the other guy was a Turkish professional boxer. They were perfect, and perfectly painful."

Viggo Mortensen on the Bathhouse scene
Ties that bind
by Melora Koepke, Hour CA
13 Sept 2007

Last edited: 15 February 2010 08:40:46