A late bloomer and a second choice for Aragorn in Lord of the Rings – it’s no wonder Viggo Mortensen did not initially have the confidence to take on the character of Sigmund Freud in film biopic A Dangerous Method.
Speaking at the Freud Museum, the 53-year-old actor said he thought director David Cronenberg was “crazy” for casting him in the role.
Mortensen said: “If someone else other than David Cronenberg had offered me the role, I would have most likely turned it down.
“For a moment I thought he was even crazier than I knew him to be because I don’t look like Sigmund Freud – at any age.”
Mortensen, who moonlights as a poet and artist, said it was not only the physical resemblance he would struggle with but the long passages of dialogue he was expected to deliver.
He said: “The problem was how to deal with all this dialogue; I had to speak as this character. I’m not given that much to say in movies usually!”
The next challenge was how to make the psychoanalyst more human on screen.
“The more I read about him the more I realised he was funny, he had a great sense of humour, and that helped me a lot, as an actor, technically. It was a way in, it was a way to make him human,” said Mortensen.
When the actor was invited to the Freud Museum in Maresfield Gardens, staff offered him the chance to cross the threshold of the great man’s office. Mortensen immediately let out the Freudian slip: “No, this is wrong.”
Have confidence young Mortensen. First-pick, honoured invitee – get used to it.