Better late than never. At 62, after having played several prominent roles in the cinema, Viggo Mortensen fulfilled an old dream by signing his first feature film as a director, Free fall.
This film, which has already been selected for several major festivals (Sundance, Cannes, Toronto) chronicles the complex relationship between an old man suffering from dementia and his homosexual son. The newspaper spoke by videoconference with the actor and big supporter of the Montreal Canadiens who speaks French very well.
Q: You launch your movie Free fall in a very specific context since the majority of cinemas are closed. You were still able to present it in theaters at certain festivals like Sundance, but it is especially online that the film is circulating. How do you live with it?
A: “We tried to keep the film alive despite this complicated context linked to the pandemic. But of course it’s frustrating not being able to take it out everywhere in the theater as we would have liked to do. We were able to present it at Sundance just before the pandemic and we had excellent reactions from the public. It’s a shame not to have been able to build on this momentum. “
Q: You say you wrote the first few lines of this story on a plane coming back from your mother’s funeral. What did you want to say?
A: “First I wanted to remember some things about my parents and I also wanted to explore how I felt and what I learned from them. The film tells a fictional story about a man and his father. But at the same time, the figure of the mother is very important in the story. Finding the actress who plays the mother has been a real challenge for me. When I met Hannah Gross I was so happy because she had that little something special that I was looking for. I am very satisfied with the distribution in general. It’s an all-star cast. “
Q: Speaking of the cast of the film, you gave the father character to Lance Henriksen, who is best known for his roles in action and sci-fi movies. How did you come to make this choice?
R: “I had seen his work before meeting him [en 2008 sur le plateau de tournage du western Appaloosa]. I haven’t seen all of his films because he’s done hundreds of them, but I’ve seen several. What has always impressed me about him is that he is always totally invested in the characters he plays. He doesn’t play, he lives them.
So I quickly thought of him after finishing the script for my film. He had never really played that kind of character. But he liked the script very much and he was the first actor to join the project. I believe he delivers a great performance, courageous, disturbing and unforgettable. I would like him to get all the recognition he deserves with this performance. “
Q: You have also chosen to play the character of the son yourself in your film. Why ?
A: “To be honest, I didn’t want to star in the movie initially. But I finally decided to do it because it helped us get the last part of the funding. But in the end, I think it was a good creative decision because it gave me the opportunity to collaborate with Lance. [Henriksen] and to share very complex and moving scenes with him. “
Q: The father character in the movie suffers from dementia. I have read that several members of your family have had it. It must have been a delicate subject for you to broach?
A: “I mainly wanted to explore what I call ‘the other pandemic’, which is the lack of communication. This is a problem that we find, not only in the United States, but also everywhere today. And it got worse from the moment I started writing the screenplay.
But it’s true that I also wanted to bring my perspective on dementia. I personally experienced this with my parents, my stepfather and my grandparents. It helped me write down the relationship this character has with his son and with other members of his family. I wanted to show another side of this disease. People with dementia are often seen as people who are always confused. But in my experience, it’s more the people watching them who are confused by what they say. Their perception of the present time is different from that of others. But for them, this perception is very real. “
Q: In closing, let’s talk about serious things: you are a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens. Did you follow the start of the team’s season?
A: “I watched a few games, but I couldn’t see them all. I think we will finish first in the Canadian division. “
► The film Free fall (Falling) will be presented on video on demand starting February 5.