CANNES, France – He’s not reprising Aragorn, the heroic warrior from “Lord of the Rings,” but Viggo Mortensen’s lethal combat in “History of Violence,” which debuted yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival, drew cheers and gasps.
Mortensen, who arrived here on the Riviera sporting a Prince Valiant haircut and handlebar moustache for a 17th-century drama he’s filming in Spain, said his lengthy “Rings” experience was a help for this contemporary mob drama.
“I got some practice,” he said.
But Viggo pointed out that “History,” David Cronenberg’s film which co-stars Maria Bello and William Hurt, has meaning behind its violence.
“In David’s movie, violence is not glamorized or made to look beautiful or desirable to have that skill,” Mortensen said. “It’s a movie about authority and what that does to people and how it’s exercised—and violence is only one way of exercising authority.”
Cronenberg, who engaged in a Euro-style lip-lock with his leading man in front of the paparazzi, said “sex and violence” are natural partners.
“It’s like bacon and eggs,” said the director in his droll, Hitchcock-style delivery. “If you look at history of cinematic violence, there’s a long one. There’s a violent component in sexuality and that’s a natural component for me to explore. As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Conflict is the essence of drama.'”
And in this case, a chance to grab the festival’s top prize this coming weekend when the top prize, the Palme d’Or, is handed out.