Director David Cronenberg and his repeat leading man Viggo Mortensen showed off their first collaboration, A History of Violence at TIFF’s Bell Lightbox theatre Monday. At the screening they discussed their projects and the mood on set.
Mortensen said “We laugh a lot on set. You would be surprised at it but we do. Ed Harris killed me.”
The toughest challenge for the leading man was apparently his scenes in the third act with William Hurt. His co-star plays role of a villain with a very strong method performance and a unique voice that would make the leading man laugh. Hurt would constantly catch Mortensen laughing.
“It was perfect what he was doing but it was so extreme. I remember..I was trying so hard and I wasn’t laughing but there were tears running down my face,” Mortensen said.
In addition to his sense of humour, Mortensen fits well into Cronenberg’s films because he holds a Danish passport.
At the screening, Cronenberg explained that many of his films “due to their subject matters and budgets have to be co-productions.” Often they are done between Canada and France. On those projects he is generally only allowed to use one actor who is a citizen of only the United States, everyone else must be international. Mortensen, although born in New York, is of Danish descent, which allows him to work on movies like Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method.
When discussing A History of Violence, Cronenberg talked about how the film was ‘‘funded entirely by New Line (Cinema) and the closest I have come to doing an American studio movie. There were no restrictions on who I could cast.’’
Geoff Fullerton, 26, is a film buff who says he got a lot out of the evening.
“I thought the screening of the film was exceptional,” says Fullerton.
Fullerton really liked what the studio did for Cronenberg, giving the director “free reign on the selection of his cast which I believe led to a more productive film.”
This screening was Cronenberg’s 20th appearance at the theater in the past few months. The event was part of an ongoing exhibition devoted to the Canadian director and his works. The exhibition closes on Jan. 19.