Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence
A History of Violence Cast and Crew
Viggo Mortensen: Tom Stall
Other leading roles:
A History of Violence Synopsis
Tom McKenna (Viggo Mortensen) is a quiet family man living and working in a small town. However, when he performs an act of heroism and is splashed all over the national press, some highly dodgy people suspect that he is a former colleague who disappeared underground years ago.
A History of Violence Brief Review
The film is based on the graphic book A History of Violence by John Wagner, with illustrations by Vince Locke. It was adapted for the screen by Josh Olson, whose credits include Infested.
A History of Violence Soundtrack
Fine original soundtrack by Howard Shore, available October 11, 2005. See press release for background information and Nick Joy's review at Music from the Movies; view high-resolution JPEG of CD cover. You can purchase the CD at Amazon.com.
A History of Violence Articles & Interviews
A History of Violence - Hollywood Reporter, May 16, 2005
Cronenberg's Film Full of Violence, Sex - Yahoo! Movies, May 16, 2005
Odd response to Cronenberg's latest - Canadian Press, May 16, 2005
Viggo Mortensen brings violent film to Cannes - MSNBC, May 16, 2005
Cannes #5: Strong entries raise bar - Chicago Sun-Times, May 17, 2005
Cannes 2005: American brutality, scene 1, scene 2 - The Globe and Mail, May 17, 2005
Cannes Festival: A History of Violence - Emanuel Levy, May 17, 2005
Viggo: Use of violence in new film Rings true - Boston Herald, May 17, 2005
Revenge, violence and hard cash - Fairfax Digital, May 18, 2005
Review: A History of Violence - JoBlo, May 23, 2005
A History of Violence Review - Into the Evening Rush, May 31, 2005
Cronenberg Shoots Mortensen - Premiere (French edition), May 31, 2005
Music from the Movies: A History of Violence - Music from the Movies, September 2005
Art for Arteries' Sake - Slate, September 23, 2005
History of Violence Soundtrack - October 11, 2005
History of Violence: News
A History of Violence: HBO First Look - Schedule for HBO's series of 13-minute previews of A History of Violence, starting September 12, 2005. "This special delves inside David Cronenberg's adaptation of a graphic novel about a Middle America family man who must deal with the aftermath of his act of violence against two criminals. Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and Ed Harris star."
Bello in talks on Cronenberg movie - RTE Guide, 14 July 2004: Reports that Maria Bello is in talks to star opposite Viggo Mortensen, as Mortensen's character's wife, in A History of Violence. See more about Bello at IMDb.
Empire Online: A History of Violence - Synopsis, casting details as available, links to related news. "Viggo has shown time and time again his ability to blend decency and ass kicking, so we have hopes for this one."
Harris, Hurt put dukes up for 'Violence' - Hollywood Reporter, 02 August 2004: "Ed Harris and William Hurt are in negotiations to join the cast of A History of Violence.... Harris will play the bad guy who comes looking for Mortensen, while Hurt will portray Mortensen's long-lost brother." More details in the article.
MC Movies: A History of Violence - Periodic news updates, along with a gallery of high-resolution press stills.
History of Violence: Oscar Buzz
Oscar predictions for A History of Violence started in May, 2005, with its premiere at Cannes.
22-Jul-05 Emanuel Levy: Oscar 2005 Alert
27-Jul-05 The Oscar Race Begins - From Entertainment Weekly: "A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE could be a contender... since David Cronenberg's tale of a small-town vigilante (played by Viggo Mortensen, who won raves in Cannes) may have special resonance for today's audiences. Unless... its best chances remain limited to Best Actor."
History of Violence: Resources
A History of Violence Official Web Site - Official New Line Cinema site includes downloadable wallpapers and poster, a video blog, film synopsis, cast and filmmaker bios. You can sign up for email updates.
About.com: A History of Violence - Several early production stills, movie credits, and links to other information.
Beek's Books: A History of Violence - Brief synopsis and detailed review of this graphic novel. Several sample illustrations from the book.
Cannes: A History of Violence - From the official Cannes Film Festival web site, a film synopsis and photos from the red carpet arrival and press conferences. They also have video clips in WMV and Real Media format from the press conference, trailer, highlights and interview. Downloadable press kits provide production information and cast bios.
Comic Book Movies: A History of Violence - Synopsis and news updates about the upcoming movie.
Cronenberg to Film Graphic Novel - From February 2004, news article about the film adaptation of A History of Violence discusses other films made from author John Wagner's books. Links to separate article on the screenplay.
Eye: Body language - Movie reviewer Jason Anderson briefly describes the upcoming A History of Violence as "an adaptation of a graphic novel written by Judge Dredd creator John Wagner. The story of a small-town man who attracts unwanted attention after he kills in self-defence, the movie directly unites Cronenberg with an American studio, New Line, and an American star, Viggo Mortensen, for the first time in his 38-year filmmaking career." He goes on to enthusiastically describe Cronenberg's other work, concluding, "All I know for sure about A History of Violence is that I'll like it."
Featured Filmmaker: David Cronenberg - IGN FilmForce examines the career of the director of Videodrome, Dead Ringers, Crash, and the upcoming A History of Violence, which will reportedly star Viggo Mortensen. "Characterized by a fascination with mutation, viruses, and an existential examination of the mind-body split, Cronenberg's oeuvre is one of the richest and intellectually provocative in all of contemporary cinema."
28-Feb-05 Images: A History of Violence - Brief piece about A History of Violence features HUGE high-resolution copies of five of the press images we have been seeing. It's rounded out with quotes from Maria Bello about the film, Viggo, and working with David Cronenberg. "The funniest thing I can say about Viggo is he could be the most down-to-earth, calmest, sweetest guy."
OutNow.ch: Images from A History of Violence - Collection of eight super high-resolution stills from A History of Violence. This site will probably feature a German-language review and more stills when the film is released.
Sachie: A History of Violence - Sachie has lots of links to interviews, reviews and news. In addition, she has paired character illustrations from the book with the actors and actresses who will be playing the parts. Page also available in Japanese.
The Plasma Pool - David Cronenberg fan site has photographs from the set of A History of Violence, along with other news.
Yahoo: A History of Violence - Features a video clip, "False Alarm," in which Jack (Ashton Holmes) wonders why his father, Tom (Viggo Mortensen), has a shotgun. Also on the site, background information, production photos and photo gallery.
History of Violence Quotes
These reports from Cannes Film Festival only had brief mentions of A History of Violence, so we excerpted the interesting bits.
From there to the Majestic Beach (it's a beach, and it's majestic — no, it's at the Majestic Hotel, which explains things), where we conducted interviews for David Cronenberg's cracking return to form, A History Of Violence, in which Viggo Mortensen's unassuming family man is thrust into action when his dark past comes knocking on his door. More mainstream than recent efforts from the cerebral Canadian, and certainly less Cronenbergian in theme (at least, on an initial viewing), the movie is short (96 mins.), searing and often shocking, with sudden flashes of gruesome violence, two illuminating and character-building sex scenes between Mortensen and his screen missus Maria Bello, and cracking, menacing turns from Mortensen, William Hurt and Ed Harris.
And thoroughly enjoyable they were too, with Maria Bello on fine wisecracking form (also, she seemed to be wearing jeans under her shimmering see-through dress, perhaps to save her blushes), newcomer Ashton Holmes (who plays Bello and Mortensen's teenage son) revealing that he doesn't drink (but he does smoke), and Mortensen — sporting a pearler of a 'tache — lamenting the fortunes of his football team, Argentina's San Lorenzo. "This year," he cried, "they are the worst!"
But it was Cronenberg that was the big draw. His films can be cold, clinical and chilling, but the 62 year-old Canadian was anything but, snapping shots of Empire before we started ("French Premiere magazine asked me to do this. It's a fish-eye lens, so you might all look like fish") and proving to be warm, friendly company. Brain the size of a Buick, too.
Chris in Cannes, Empire Magazine
Auteur filmmakers Michael Haneke and David Cronenberg, both with very accessible pictures, have emerged as the consensus front-runners for the Palme d'Or among many critics and attendees at the halfway point of the 2005 Festival de Cannes.
Whatever their fate in the hands of the Competition jury, Haneke's "Cache" (Hidden), an inventive and suspenseful indictment of First World indifference to Third World troubles, and Cronenberg's "A History of Violence," an intelligent and exciting thriller about a family threatened by mobsters, are destined to perform much better in most international markets than their directors' most recent films. Cheering and applause followed the press screening of the Cronenberg film Sunday night.
Ray Bennett, Duane Byrge and Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter
An Early Tip, Punters
In fact, the film of the festival so far has been David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, starring Viggo Mortensen as the owner of a small-town diner who becomes a national hero when he somehow kills a couple of unsavoury heavies who try to rob his till. It is adapted from a slasher graphic novel that, as Mortensen said afterwards, almost any other director would have made into a revenge-by-numbers action film. He didn't want to do that and, he said frankly, since making Lord of the Rings he hasn't had to do anything he didn't want to do.
"But it was David Cronenberg," he said, "so you think, well, it's going to be interesting somehow."
And he was right. In the Canadian maestro's hands, the story becomes a layered study of multiple identity; of the darkness lurking in the most benign human heart; of the fragility of our most apparently profound relationships and of the weirdness of American gun culture.
Colour-graded and shot to look like a '50s western, it feels off-kilter from the moment we descend on the town's main street. The real glory of it, said Mortensen, is that, from the first frame, you don't know what to make of it: "You think: is this a bad movie? Is this really bad acting or is it good? You can't tell. But 10 minutes later, you stop asking yourself those questions."
Stephanie Bunbury, Fairfax Digital
.. The other two films, made by Canada's most admired directors, Cronenberg and Egoyan, unravel the darker shades of American life. Cronenberg's A History of Violence, featuring Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt, is cast in the mould of an updated version of western transported to a small-town America setting.
The film has loads of shootout scenes and twist-a-neck sort of action. But in Cronenberg's hands, they are turned into superbly choreographed, wonderfully witty cinematic moments. He does not use violence for its own sake, as genre movies so often do, and employs the conventions of the thriller to present a fine study of an individual, a family and an entire society. ...
This is Cronenberg's most conventional film in years and those expecting Crash-like visual and narrative dynamics are sure to be disappointed. But those tired of Hollywood thrillers that go nowhere, here is a film that reveals the true potential of the genre, when it is served up with a slice of wit and sense of distance.
Saibal Chatterjee, Hindustan Times
The other new trailer now online is for a very different sort of comic book movie, David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, this Josh Olson-scripted drama made its world debut recently at the Cannes film festival where it's quickly become a frontrunner to win the fest's most prestigious award, the Palmes d'Or. If it does it would be a first for a film based on a comic book.
"History of Violence" is an annihilating thriller right in this fest's noir vein, with small-town cafe owner Viggo Mortensen and his family exposed to increasingly heinous bullies and killers -- because, we learn, something in his past is drawing them out.
Cronenberg has always had a gift for movie violence, and here he mixes the brutal action scenes with truly dark humor -- mostly emanating from the virulent villains played by Stephen McHattie, Ed Harris and, especially, William Hurt. If Mickey Rourke of "Sin City" deserves some acting prize consideration for his noir-soaked portrayal of the ugly revenger, so do Cronenberg's heavies.
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
If Cronenberg's well-reviewed "A History of Violence" hits big, it won't be because of his name above the title, distributors say. Its star, Viggo Mortensen, will pull in the crowds, playing a rugged peace-loving Midwesterner who is forced to pick up a gun to protect his family. (New Line opens the film in December.)
Cronenberg once again showed his real gifts for taking audiences to the edge of fear and disrupting all complacency. "Violence" is about a small-town Indiana father and cafe proprietor, Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall, who shows unexpected heroism in disarming and killing too extraordinarily vicious killers during a robbery.
This feat wins him national notice on the news shows and the attention of a group of increasingly deadly gangsters who are convinced Tom is actually Joey Cusack, one of their number who disappeared years ago after permanently disfiguring a made man (Ed Harris), leaving behind a top gang boss brother (William Hurt).
"Violence" is an obvious wish fulfillment fantasy about beating bullies. But it's also dark comedy that gets lots of mileage out of its villains: Stephen McHattie as the predatory, cold-blooded stickup guy, Harris as the embittered mobster and finally Hurt as Mortensen's genial but amoral brother. Because, like "Sin City," "Violence" is based on a comic or graphic novel, it's somewhat stylized and obvious. But in Cronenberg's hands, that stylization is so immaculately done that, as usual, it communicates an enduring chill.
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
In this gathering of the world's movie royalty, ...the actor seen neatly groomed in his latest movie role might show up for his press conference with long hair and a shaggy mustache as Viggo Mortensen did a few days ago. ...
The complicity of the audience is ... important to David Cronenberg. His crowd-pleasing "A History of Violence" takes him in a new and relatively action-packed direction. Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) a clean-living family man who runs a rural diner, thwarts a savage robbery attempt and saves his customers and staff by killing the two intruders, both wanted murderers. The resulting national media attention brings Tom more visitors, organized-crime goons from Philadelphia, who are convinced that he's the long-lost cohort who once crossed them up.
At its most violent, "A History of Violence" provoked bursts of applause and uneasy laughter in the world-premiere press screening at Cannes. Cronenberg actually took this as a good sign, saying at his press conference the following day, "I'm not surprised that the audience would applaud the violence because they are complicit in it; I wanted them to be involved. You have to ask yourself what about that is attractive?"
Barbara Scharres, Chicago Sun-Times
Among 21 films in the main competition was Canadian director David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, starring Viggo Mortensen as a family man fending off mobsters who insist he's a long-lost crony from their past.
The consensus among Cannes crowds was the main competition produced a solid but unremarkable crop of films.
David Germain, AP, in The London Free Press
Canadian veteran David Cronenberg has made his most commercial and approachable film in years with A History of Violence, a tale as taut and compelling as a 1950s James Stewart western. Here Viggo Mortensen is a pillar of a small-town community whose gangland past returns to haunt him and his family.
All of [the above] were potential Palme d'Or contenders when the jury announced their deliberations last night. It has been a steady, solid Cannes festival.
Allan Hunter, Scotland on Sunday
In A History of Violence, a mild-mannered guy named Tom (Viggo Mortensen) is shocked to find himself accused of having been a big-city hit man 20 years earlier. The film snakes through all manner of twists until the last scene, when Tom returns home and ... now what?
A good movie, even a good mystery, may have more to do with mood and character than with revealing whodunit or what happens next. Hidden is directed with the unblinking, unmoving eye of a surveillance video, and acted with power and subtlety. Violence has the same cinematic confidence in telling stories through images and gestures, the same powerful ambiguity in Mortensen's performance. Both films are among the most powerful and supple works of their esteemed directors. Yet the Jury gave only a thanks-for-coming Best Director prize to Haneke, and snubbed Cronenberg completely.
Richard Corliss, Time Europe
The past that comes back to haunt you is also a theme in several other films. Canadian director David Cronenberg's A History of Violence is a clever and disturbing updating of classic films noir such as Out of the Past (1947). Viggo Mortensen plays a small-town cafe proprietor who is happily married to a lovely wife (Maria Bello) and the father of two children. But his world falls apart when a couple of killers (who, in the chilling opening scene, have been shown to be merciless) arrive at the cafe with violent intent. Though he turns the tables on them, his heroism brings unwanted publicity. Consequently, his past career as a gangster, a life his family knows nothing about, catches up with him. This classic theme results in a superior suspense thriller.
David Stratton, The Australian
History of Violence Video & Audio Clips
Clips, reviews and interviews.
'A History of Violence' Through a Man's Story «26-Sep-05» - Audio clip from NPR's Fresh Air from WHYY, September 23, 2005. Review by David Edelstein: Director David Cronenberg has made a movie [A History of Violence] that many viewers will likely find easier to approach than his other movies.
'A History of Violence': A Ticking Timebomb «26-Sep-05» - Audio clip from NPR Morning Edition, September 23, 2005. Film critic Kenneth Turan reviews director David Cronenberg's latest work, A History of Violence. Cronenberg directed films that many consider bizarre, such as Crash, The Fly and Naked Lunch. Turan says this film is less strange, but more disturbing.
hov-01: Who's Joey? «18-May-05» - Tom (Viggo Mortensen) is serving at the diner counter when the bad guy (Ed Harris) sits down and starts calling him "Joey" to see his reaction. Posted on the official History of Violence web site. Once the Flash entry has finished showing off, it will allow you to click on the "watch the clip" link, where there are downloads in WMV and QuickTime formats, large/small resolution. Or you can download the large QT version from here.
Quicktime video 320x176 (00'54, 2MB)
SOTBK: History of Violence Video Clips «26-Sep-05» - Great collection of video clips from A History of Violence publicity and interviews.
History of Violence Video Clips: Cannes
From Cannes Film Festival, May, 2005: interviews, press conferences and video excerpts from the film. These are all available for download on the official Cannes Film Festival web site, in WMV and RealMedia formats, high/low resolution.
hov-cannes: Photo Call & Interview «20-May-05» - Begins with a photo session for the press, then continues with an interview. David Cronenberg is most vocal, but Viggo Mortensen and Ashton Holmes also contribute. Download from official Cannes Film Festival web site or from here:
hov-cannes: Press Conference «20-May-05» - At Cannes press conference, David Cronenberg talks about the film. William Hurt, Viggo Mortensen & Maria Bello talk about how it was to work with Cronenberg and with each other. Download from official Cannes Film Festival web site or from here:
hov-cannes: Red Carpet «20-May-05» - David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and Ashton Holmes stroll down the red carpet at the History of Violence premiere, playing to the crowd. Download from official Cannes Film Festival web site or from here:
History of Violence Image Gallery
Viggo Mortensen at Cannes, May 2005