Film Tattoos A Lasting Effect On Actor Mortensen
17 September 2007
CTV - Canada AM
Actor Viggo Mortensen said watching himself play a Russian mob driver in David Cronenberg's film Eastern Promises felt like he was seeing a "strange, old friend."
Mortensen first saw Eastern Promises in its completed form when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and said he enjoyed the film "as a moviegoer."
The actor is not the only person who enjoyed the movie, as it was obviously a hit with audiences at the festival.
Eastern Promises was named the winner of the Cadillac People's Choice Award at the film festival on Saturday.
The actor had completed another movie since working on Eastern Promises. By watching the film, Mortensen found himself being drawn back into Cronenberg's exploration of London's Russian crime underworld.
"I really felt like I wanted to see it again even though I did the movie and I know it well," Mortensen said. "Just seeing it, I wanted to see all the nuances, all the layers, now that I knew how it played out."
The tattoos on the body of Mortensen's character Nikolai are among the nuances in the film that are important to the storyline.
According to Mortensen the tattoos were "really old school hardcore Russian prison tattoos" that represented his character's life story.
The tattoos reveal Nikolai's ethnic background, philosophy of life and criminal past to comprise a "coded language" for other figures in the crime underworld.
"Basically, they are my character's calling card," Mortensen said.
Eastern Promises marked the second time that Mortensen had teamed up with Cronenberg for a movie. The two had previously worked together on the 2005 film A History of Violence.
For Mortensen, working on both films with the Canadian director left a lasting experience.
"At the end of (Eastern Promises) I felt like I did at the end of A History of Violence," Mortensen said. "I just thought 'Wow, what's going to happen to this guy? What's going to happen to these people now?'" Tomorrow's going to be tough. It's going to be complicated."
Last edited: 19 September 2007 04:27:46