Actor Viggo Mortensen has been in the public eye for decades, as his impressive career saw him in both massive blockbusters like Lord of the Rings and award-winning critical favorites. The 62 year-old actor is continuing to make waves on the big screen, as he's making his directorial debut with the upcoming drama Falling. In the movie Mortensen is also playing a gay man, and he recently shared a frank response regarding backlash over his casting.
Over the past few years, there's been a ton of conversation in the film industry about inclusion and visibility. Particularly there have been calls for members of disenfranchised communities to have the opportunity to tell their own story on the big screen. This includes LGBTQIA+ folks being cast in major queer roles rather than being given to straight performers. After all, there's already so fewer LGBT roles in movies. It's a complicated situation, and Viggo Mortensen opened up about the potential backlash he's facing for playing his role in Falling. As he put it,
Look, these are the times we're living in, and I think it's healthy that those issues are brought up. The short answer is that I didn't think it was a problem. And people then ask me, 'Well what about Terry Chen, who plays my husband in the film, is he a homosexual?' And the answer is I don't know, and I would never have the temerity to ask someone if they were, during the casting process. And how do you know what my life is? You're assuming that I'm completely straight. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. And it's frankly none of your business.
Well, that was honest. It looks like Viggo Mortensen thinks that conversations around around representation for queer folks is an important one. But it's also a complicated issue when it comes to actors who are tasked with transforming into someone else. Additionally, Mortensen believes that the general public is also making assumptions about his own sexuality in the situation involving Falling.
Viggo Mortensen's comments to the U.K. outlet The Times helps to show exactly how the Green Book actor is approaching his work on Falling, and the ongoing discussion about inclusion and representation on the big screen. The film industry has changed so much over the past few years, as issues of inequity regarding race, gender, and sexuality have been brought to the forefront. Mortensen had admitted he doesn't have all the answers, and that he also doesn't want the personal life of auditioners in the room to be a factor in the casting process.
As Viggo Mortensen mentioned, any backlash about his role in Falling is making an assumption about the Lord of the Rings alum. Namely that he's 100 percent heterosexual, something that Mortensen didn't actually confirm. He might have been married to a woman for over a decade, but sexuality is a spectrum that can also be a very private experience.
His directorial debut Falling is focused on complicated family issues. In the movie Viggo Mortinsen's character John lives with his male partner, who brings his mentally decaying father out West after living in a rural farm. It looks like a compelling piece of film, although there has been some backlash from activists wishing that an openly queer man had the role of John.
Falling was released internationally in theaters today. Be sure to check out our 2021 release list to plan your trips to the movies next year.