Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen has made his debut as a writer-director with Falling, a film that explores a family dealing with its patriarch’s battle with dementia. In an interview with Variety, Mortensen has talked about his approach to directing, and how it mirrors the way he acts.
While Mortensen has worked with some big-name directors–perhaps most famously Peter Jackson, but also Jane Campion, David Cronenberg, Ridley Scott, and many more–he says he never tried to copy anyone else’s way of directing.
“When it came to shooting Falling, I never thought about anybody else’s style,” Mortensen told Variety. “As an actor, I always do a load of research; I don’t want to leave anything unexamined. But then I put it to one side, so I can be open to what’s happening on the set. I’m the same as a director.”
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t taken anything from his previous work with some of the biggest names in the field, however. “I learned from those directors in terms of preparation–Campion, Cronenberg and the rest taught me that you can never prepare too much or too early for a shoot,” Mortensen said, after explaining that it had taken him some time and multiple tries to get Falling off the ground. “By waiting, I probably was able to avoid a lot of beginner’s mistakes.”
Lord of the Rings fans may have heard that Viggo Mortensen suggested many of the small details that brought his character Aragorn to life, and it sounds like Mortensen as a director has been receptive to similar input from his own cast and crew.
“On the first day, I told the cast and crew: ‘A good idea comes from anyone, anytime. We’ve got one shot to tell the story, so any idea helps; we’re all making this movie together,’” he explained. “I learned that from the best directors I worked with. I’ve been very lucky.”
Falling, which stars Lance Henrikson with Mortensen playing his son, has been well received on the festival circuit, and looks set for awards season in multiple categories. It is receiving a limited theatrical release in some European countries from November through to February. Other countries have not yet had a theatrical release announced.