Viggo Mortensen is famously picky about roles, and he’s spent the years since the Lord of the Rings trilogy ended only popping up in things he wanted to, when he felt like acting. The result is one of the most adventurous and unpredictable careers in Hollywood, from David Cronenberg joints to Best Picture winners to Argentine Westerns in which he doesn’t speak a lick of English. While promoting his latest project, Falling — which is in fact his directorial debut, in which he plays a gay man railing against his homophobic old father (Lance Henriksen) — he talked about one of the many roles he turned down, X-Men’s Wolverine, which he didn’t do for his son.
In a recent podcast appearance on Happy Sad Confused (as caught by IGN), Mortensen talked meeting with Bryan Singer, the since-disgraced director, back when he was planning the first X-Men movie. Mind you, this is before The Fellowship of the Rings, but even then he was choosy. He said he already had misgivings about the role.
“The thing that bothered me at the time was just the commitment of endless movies of that same character over and over,” Mortensen explained. So he brought along his son, Henry, to the meeting, both as a “good luck charm” and because he knew a lot about comics and had already said the script got some stuff wrong:
“And he goes ‘yeah, but he doesn’t look like this,’ And all of a sudden the director is falling all over himself and then the rest of the meeting was him explaining in detail to Henry why he was taking certain liberties … We walked out of there, and Henry asks if he will change the things he told him about, and I say I don’t think so. I’m not going to do it anyway, because I’m not sure I want to be doing this for years, and then a couple of years later I’m doing three Lord Of The Rings [films] so who knows.”
So there you go: You might have missed out on Viggo’s Aragorn had it not been for his reluctance to take a role with a multi-year commitment — which he got over, apparently — and because of his son. Granted, many stories about acclaimed thespians taking on comic book roles revolve around them doing it because their kids wanted them to. So enjoy this rare case in which the opposite happens.
In the meantime, you can catch Mortensen’s Falling, which was released in America Friday, on PVOD now.