A History of Violence


© New Line Productions Inc.
Viggo has the charisma of a leading man, and the eccentricity and naturalistic presence of a character actor. He's the kind of actor I love. - David Cronenberg

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Olson said he pictured Mortensen in the role of Stall, something the actor found "flattering and disturbing at the same time." Just to keep the star in line, Cronenberg told him Olson hadn't really written the role for him. "You were second to Brad Pitt."

Cannes Press Conference
National Post Cannes Review, by Chris Knight
17 May 2005

'There were probably a couple of other actors who I thought of, but he was in the top one or two. ...He's got the sort of quintessential type of American look to him. He reminds me of Kirk Douglas sometimes in darker films that he did.

I was really gratified when "Lord of the Rings' came out. I said, "Oh there he is. He's playing almost a super hero and now he's going to start getting bigger parts.' He's just somebody I spotted as having a kind of appeal that I don't see a lot of actors having anymore. It's just mainly from when I grew up that I'm always on the prowl for guys who could kind of play the roles Clint Eastwood played 30 years ago. And he sort of seems to be that kind - with some real serious acting chops. So he kind of came to mind. There were probably others. Obviously with something like this, invariably Sean Penn's gonna pop up, especially post "Mystic River.' But yeah, Viggo's kind of the guy who like locked himself in my head.'

Josh Olson on Viggo Mortensen
Interview with Jock Olson, by Rebecca Murray
About.com. August 2005

I started to do research, which I always do when actors are named and you start to look at DVDs and stuff that you have. Movies that you know they have done. Because obviously what he did in "Lord of the Rings,' which is why he's famous, has very little to do with his role in this movie. But other movies that he's done, like one called "A Walk on the Moon' with Diane Lane, has a lot to do with it because in that movie, he's very gentle and sweet and tender. Usually he plays bad guys or scary guys, but I could see from that movie he could be very lovely as a gentle, sweet guy and very sexy as well. So it didn't take long for him to sort of go on the top of the list.

David Cronenberg on casting Viggo
Interview with "A History of Violence" Director David Cronenberg
By Rebecca Murray,
July 2005

In casting the lead, the director needed someone who could bring both a commanding force and familial gentleness to Tom Stall, and as far as he was concerned, Mortensen was it--period. "Viggo has the charisma of a leading man, and the eccentricity and naturalistic presence of a character actor," Cronenberg says. "He's the kind of actor I love."

History Teacher, by Missy Schwartz
Entertainment Weekly, August 19, 2005

Clearly Cronenberg was hooked, as he enlisted Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello to join the cast, his first choice to play the married Stall couple. And Ed Harris and William Hurt are among his favorite American actors with whom he'd wanted to work for years.

"I couldn't have asked for a better cast. The tone is of seriously good acting, a profound dedication to the roles and digging deep into the characters,"

Cannes Film Festival 2005 Press Kit

"I can't say Viggo was the only one on my list, but he was always on my list." Citing his work in Lord of the Rings, he noted that Mortensen is "an underrated star... He's actually a superb, superb actor."

David Cronenberg on casting Viggo
Comic-Con 2005: A History of Violence
July 15, 2005

How did you get Viggo onboard?

In my seduction of Viggo, who's very picky about his films, I flew to LA and one of the elements of the seduction was to discuss the political undertones of the movie. If you work with an actor like Viggo, the discussions go very deep and the anticipations of people's reactions to what you're doing is very deep. But there's a part that is mysterious and not controllable, because movies, if they are alive, surprise you. They sometimes take on a life of their own and if they do that, they end up meaning things that you sometimes aren't aware of.

Chris in Cannes
Cannes Film Festival Report
15 may 2005

"Give me great actors every time, they solve so many problems," Cronenberg says, smiling and referring to his entire cast. "When you get on a racetrack, you want a Ferrari. The whole Svengali thing is not for me, I don't want to help them figure out how to act. I'm looking for collaborators. It takes a big burden off of you."

Canadian directors see violent, star-struck U.S.,
LA Times Cannes Review, by Kenneth Turan

"Viggo was very deliberate and thoughtful before he chose to do this movie," points out producer Chris Bender. "He met with David a number of times. He really wanted to understand the script and the transformation his character undergoes, it was really about him falling in love with this character before he decided to do it."

Cannes Film Festival 2005 Press Kit

"Viggo's my kind of actor," smiles Cronenberg, who likes to work with actors who are not just leading men, but also character actors. "First of all they tend not to be afraid because they're not trying to protect some image they see of themselves as traditional leading men, but also it gives them a much bigger palette to paint from because they have all kinds of edges. I need a kind of eccentricity that is more typical of a character actor than a leading man, and yet still has a leading man presence and charisma."

"Viggo was perfect. He is not only a charismatic leading man, but the combination of other qualities made me feel he had the depth to play a very complex role. He is a maniac for detail, which I love. He is very focused and obsessed with details of how his character would move, speak and dress. It's really quite spectacular to watch him work and to interact with him," says the director, who admits, that after two weeks of working closely with Mortensen, they felt like brothers."

David Cronenberg, Director
Cannes Film Festival 2005 Press Kit

Last edited: 28 June 2014 11:02:39