Viggo Mortensen


  1. Christophe(r) Lambert, Greystoke, The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, 1983.  It was not until a British Film Institute interview in 2012, that someone confirmed that Mortensen had been (almost) on  the vine for the ape-man. That someone was… Mortensen, himself. Robert Towne’s Tarzan choice had been the French Malet (and not his twin actor brother Pierre) when due to direct his own script – finally credited to PH Vazak (his Hungarian Shepherd dog). Nearly on the vine for the next director Hugh Hudson (from Chariots of Fire) were: Hollywood hunks, Mortensen, Richard Gere,Harry Hamlin;  two other French guys: Patrick Norbert, Lambert Wilson; and…  and… Rupert Everett! Lambert nearly quit because he he had no wish for a long separation from his Paris lover, Nathalie Baye.
  2. Michael Schoeffing, Sixteen Candles, 1983.   One young hunk for another as Jake Ryan. Years later, the film’s star, Molly Ringwald, confessed she’d really wanted Mortensen in the rôle after their audition. “He made me weak in the knees. He really did.   Schoeffinbg, ex-model and US champion wrestler, quit after ten more movies to make furniture for his Pennsylvanian company.
  3. Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves, 1989.    Viggo  was first due to portray the  hero John Dunbar. Tom Berenger was second. Then, a guy called Costner rode up. Said he’d direct it as well. Took him five years, dollars by the thousand of his own money and losing many movie offers along the way  to winning the first Best Picture Oscar for a Western since Cimarron…  in 1931. Mortensen was due again to be Dunbar in writer Michael Blakel’s 11-years-after  sequel, The Holy Road, in 2011, which had nothing to do with Costner. Nor with being made, either. A TV mini-series was bubbling in 2016.
  4. Gary Oldman, Dracula, 1992.      After great work as The Indian Runner bad boy, he auditioned for Francis Coppola at his Nappa Valley estate. Losing his favourites – Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis – Francey looked at everyone else … Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Nick Cassavetes, Nicolas Cage, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant, Ray Liotta, Kyle MacLachlan, Costas Mandylor, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Nouri (a long way from Flashdance), Adrian Pasdar, Jason Patric, Aiden Quinn, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater and Sting.
  5. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993.    There were  30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even Mr Die Hard, himself, Bruce Willis… to the B group: Kevin Bacon,three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans  Bruce  Campbell and Chuck Norris.  All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  6. Stellan Skarsgård, Breaking The Waves, Denmark-France-Iceland-Netherlands-Norway-Spain-Sweden, 1995.    Danish auteur Lars Von Trierchases Viggo – Chapter One. (He was committed elsewhere).
  7. Hugh Jackman, X-Men quartet, 1999-2013.    “Hey, bub, I’m not finished with you yet…” Jackie Earle Haley, Gary Sinise and Kiefer Sutherland were in the 1989 Logan/Wolverine frame.  In the early 90s. James Cameron chose, of all people,  chubby Bob Hoskins. The fans voted for Jack Nicholson…   well, he’d been a decent Wolf in 1994. Fox could not think beyond Keanu Reeves. Russell Crowe felt Logan was too similar to his 1999 Gladiator…and just a toon, anyway. Took him a dozen years to understand comics and succeed Marlon Brando, no less, as Superman’s father, Jor-El, in Man of Steel.  Director Bryan Singer searched on through… Singer-songwriter Glenn Danzig, Aaron Eckhart, Mel Gibson, Viggo Mortensen  (a great idea but not finished with Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings), Edward Norton (also considered for Scott Summers/Cyclops) and – oh no! – Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Finally, Singer chose Dougray Scott – but he was stuck on Mission: Impossible II in Australia which is where Jackman came from (on Crowe’s reccommendation) to save the day. And the franchise.Jackman was Wolverine in ten movies (Deadpool 2 included) across 19 years. (Sean Connery, for example, was Jams Bond for 007 times).
  8. Stella Skarsgard, City of Ghosts,  2002.        Matt Dillon’s directing debut. Location:  Cambodia.

  9. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire, 2004.
    Tony Scott backed out of directing the first version in 1986, but helped  Denzel Washington retrieve his lost taste for acting in this re-make.  Sergio Leone chose  Robert De Niro  and Marlon Brando nearly played A J Quinnell’s ex-CIA hero turned mercenary (certainly helped re-write  him) but Scott Glenn won the  role. Tony Scott  had wanted Robert Duvall. The new scriptwriter, Brian Helgeland,  recalled going  into the LA Video Archives store  in the 80s and asking the clerk: “What’s good?” The clerk said:  Man on Fire. The clerk was Quentin Tarantino.  In both films Creasy  is trying to rescue a kidnapped girl, almost a daughter to him, that  he’s bodyguarding.  Yeah, rather like a matrix for Liam Neeson’s Takens. So no surprise to find Liam among some 25 actors up for Creasy. Alec Baldwin, Sean Bean (a nearly 007),  Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Viggo Mortensen,  Gary Oldman, Dennis Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Kurt Russell,  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… even our dear old  Bob Hoskins.  Creasy was later  Bollywooded by the inimitable  Amitabh Bachchan (at age  63!). There were three songs, of course!

  10. Sean Patrick Flannery, Veritas, Prince of Truth, 2005.       A comicbook hero needs help… So did the movie.
  11. Liam Neeson, Batman Begins 2004.
  12. David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005.     “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.” Among some 14 others running to Sharon Stone – or from her and the idea of playing her London shrink: Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Bernicio Del Torro, Robert Downey Jr, Aaron Eckhart, Rupert Everett (!), Bruce Greenwood, Jude Law, Ewan McGrgeor,Vincent Perez, Kurt Russell. An obvious flop before one scene was shot in anger… As in: What can she do for an encore?
  13. Thomas Jane, Kill Shot, 2008.      First  choice for Wayne Colso had been Viggo before les freres Weinstein passed their old Quentin Tarantino project to UK director John Madden.  Bruce Willis had first obtained the rights to the Elmore Leonard book in 1989.
  14. Wllem Dafoe, Antichrist, Denmark-France-Germany-Italy-Poland-Sweden, 2008.       Danish tartar Lars Von Trier chases Viggo – Chapter Two. He avoided the film but Charlotte Gainsbourg really nailed it.Dafoe’s penis, that is ,to the floor.
  15. Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman, 2011.      He had protracted wranglings until splitting for his Spanish Todos tenemos un plan. Hugh Jackman followed suit. Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardywere then seem for the hunter-turn-mentor for the first of two re-puss-in-booted Ms Whites that year… until blown away by Thor’s $65m opening.
  16. Daniel Craig, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, 2010.
  17. Michael Shannon, Man of Steel, 2011
  18. Willem Dafoe, Out of the Furnace, 2012.    Virginian actor-turned auteur Scott Cooper had some  thoughts about Viggo  for the role of John Petty.
  19. John Cusack, Maps to the Stars, 2013.     Mortensen and Rachel Weisz became John Cusack and Julianne Moore in David Cronenberg’s first of some 40  films to involve shooting inside the US –  five days in  the dreaded LA, in fact.  (Well, those maps are of  movie stars’ homes). 
  20. Michael Madsen, The Hateful Eight, 2014.  In a snit when his script wes leaked,   this is the Tarantino  film  that  nearly wasn’t. And isn’t. A movie, that is. It’s a single-set stage play with enough speechifyin’ for a UN climate congress. And badly in need of scissors., The only thing Quentin Tarantino did cut was the one  thing his script needed to make it spark – Walton Goggins using his Justified accent.  Actors hate like repeating themselves, but that accent is 75% of his charisma. Mortensen had talks about being Jody Domergue, but other gigs got in his way.  Never mind, Tarantino loved his Western. “I’m crazy, gaga, eyes popping out of my head happy with this film.” Good for him.  Not for us.  He was punching below his weight.

  21. Idris Elba, The Dark Tower, 2016.
    The 220th of King’s staggering 313 screen credits is the worst.  Since Carrie in 1976, King’s filmed books come along in good/bad patches. Dependinbg, not on the stories, usually supernatural, but how they’re made – film or series – and  by who. . Frank Darabont, Rob Reiner made classics; Stanley Kubrick and King, himself, did not. As this tale is one of eight exhilarating books, it merits a series, not this middling mess  (stuffed with King references) from director Nikolaj Arcel – a not so great Dane who by 2020 hasn’t helmed (or harmed)  another movie. (Back when there were only seven  books, JJ Abrams planned to film ‘em all).  Christian Bale, Javier Bardem, Viggo Mortensen, plus  the 2006 Casino Royale good and bad guys, Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelsen,  were up for Roland, The Gunslinger (“I do not kill with my gun, I kill with my heart”), trying to save the vital tower from Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black  (or is he really The Stand’s walkin’ dude, Randall Flagg?). When such strong (on-the-page) characters are upstaged by young Brit Tom Taylor, 14, as a typical King kid, you know something’s very wrong.
  22. Kurt Russell, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 2016.    Aged between Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow’s 87 and Matthew McConaughey’s 47,  fifteen actors were Marveled over for Ego, father of Chris Pratt’s hero, Peter Quill aka Star Lord.  The others in the loop were Mortensen, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Stephen Lang, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christoph Waltz and Bruce Willis.  
  23. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased, 2017.  Change of car salesman turned Bible thumper, ready to disown his teenage son unless he attends the church’s gay conversion programme. Another Aussie, Joel Edgerton,  wrote and directed the painful true story – and played the conversion “expert,” with as much training as the father had for preaching, ie none. The real kid is called Garrard Conley and works for LGBTQ equality… in Bulgaria.







 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  22