Viggo Mortensen sees a connection between David Cronenberg’s first two films

In “A History of Violence,” Mortensen plays Tom Stall, an Indiana family man. Unfortunately, when he became a hero by committing a robbery, attention brought the Philadelphia gangsters to town. It turns out that “Tom” is actually Joey Cusack, a former bandit who ran away from town and started over after being scarred “as a human” by Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris). Joey’s struggle to stop his violent urges takes a turn for the worse and he must confront his vengeful brother Richie (William Hurt).

In “Eastern Promises,” Mortensen is Nikolai Luzhin, a tattooed Russian gangster. Nikolai is the bodyguard of Kirill (Vincent Cassel), the son of local boss Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl). He is also not really a bandit but an undercover agent of the FSB. Things get complicated when a nurse named Anna (Naomi Watts) becomes pregnant with the child of a young girl who was raped by Semyon.

Grayer characters like Stall/Cusack and Nikolai are a real change of pace for Mortensen. He just played Aragorn, a pure-hearted hero as you can be, in “The Lords of the Rings”. In one Q&A in 2021Mortensen explains how the key similarities between Cusack and Nikolai lead to similar demands for both of his performances:

“What the two characters have in common is that they’re pretending to be doing something. They’re not, and both require a certain amount of stillness in order to believe that the character will appear in the crucial moments with very few gestures, body movements, just subtle things.”

Mortensen’s assessment is correct. Tom Stall is a bad guy trying to be a good guy. Nikolai is a good man when it comes to playing a villain. Since both men were wearing invisible masks, their physicality needed to reflect that. Notice how Stall never flinches in moments of violence, including when his son Jack (Ashton Holmes) blows Fogarty away with a shotgun. Viggo Mortensen sees a connection between David Cronenberg’s first two films

Fry Electronics Team

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