Viggo Mortensen isn’t a typical Hollywood actor. In fact, viewing his film credits proves that Viggo can’t really be pigeonholed at all, with his projects ranging from the big budget epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy to low-budget indie films and less successful dramas like Jauja (2014) and The Two Faces of January (2014). Now, as Mortensen is set to star in Captain Fantastic, the actor opens up about his choices in film projects, as well as providing his personal insight into what makes Captain Fantastic so unique.
Captain Fantastic Casts Viggo Mortensen As Father Raising Six Daughters Off The Grid
In Captain Fantastic, Viggo plays the head of a family living off the grid, deep in the wilderness, where he teaches his six daughters to kill their own food, live off the land, and to defend themselves with hand-to-hand combat skills. In their review of Captain Fantastic, New York Daily News reveals what we might expect of such a story, saying that Mortensen’s character must eventually come to terms with the fact that at least some of his daughters might eventually want to return to a technologically advanced society and buy their food at grocery stores.
Adding further drama to the story, director Matt Ross has cast Frank Langella as Mortensen’s disapproving father-in-law, who is only too eager to pay for Ivy League educations for his beloved grandchildren. Viggo’s Captain Fantastic character faces the dilemma with which every parent is eventually faced: is it better to hold on tightly or to let them be free?
While Viggo Mortensen portrays Ben as a free thinking hippie type, harmless and well-intentioned, twists in the plot suggest things may not go exactly as audiences might assume. The New York Daily News review of Captain Fantastic even suggests that Ben’s motives may not be as altruistic as they at first appear, taking audiences of Captain Fantastic on an unexpected journey of discovery toward an unrevealed destination.
Captain Fantastic Star Viggo Mortensen Opens Up About His Film Role Choices
In an interview with The New York Times, Captain Fantastic‘s Viggo Mortensen opened up about his choices in taking on film projects, recalling one film in particular for the unique experiences it offered him as an actor. The film, Far from Men, required Mortensen to learn how to speak French and Arabic, which he found to be an interesting challenge, but even that isn’t what really drew Viggo to take on the project. Mortensen’s criteria is far more basic. He’s just looking for an interesting tale.
“I just liked the story a lot. I’ve had people say: ‘Well, obviously you’ve eschewed studio movies. You just don’t care for them.’ But that’s just the way it’s worked out,” says the Captain Fantastic star. “I don’t have a preference for a high- or low-budget movie. I really don’t.”
While he’s not opposed to working on big budget films, Viggo says he doesn’t really care for the precarious position in which they put the actors or the fact that, by their very nature, they must be unoriginal films rehashing the past successes seen throughout Hollywood’s history. It all comes down to money, says Mortensen. The studios invest millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, of dollars in a single project and Viggo says they want assurances that they’ll get their money back and earn a profit. For that, the pressure is on the actors to outperform and on writers and producers to follow a proven format.
For Captain Fantastic, Viggo says he was really drawn to the story, and also to the character of Ben because he was able to identify with the character in many ways. Mortensen also says he liked the challenges his Captain Fantastic character faces and the unexpected choices that those challenges force him to make.
“Much as I liked the beginning, I was thinking, ‘O.K., I know what this is — outsiders, sort of a liberal point of view; I guess we’ll be on their side,” Viggo Mortensen said. “Sort of a ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ kind of movie. And then I was surprised. There really isn’t a hero. As you go along, you sort of cringe and see some of the things in this character you dislike most — rigidity, authoritarianism.”
Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, and Samantha Isler, opens in theaters today.
[Image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]