Viggo Mortensen considered giving up films on 'Falling' shoot (exclusive)

Watch: Viggo Mortensen and Lance Henriksen talk to Yahoo about Falling

In his directorial debut, Falling, Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen examines the fractured relationship between an ageing cantankerous father who visits his city-dwelling son – and it turned out an experience that made him consider giving up movies altogether.

Mortensen also stars in the drama with Aliens legend Lance Henriksen playing his father, and the two actors told Yahoo Movies UK about a conversation they had during the shoot that could have changed the course of their careers for ever.

“It was one particularly difficult moment,” recalled Mortensen. “One day when we were really having a hard time.”

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“We stood in the parking lot having a cigarette, just talking man to man,” said Henriksen. “We were unplugged from the movie for a minute and we said, ‘you know what, I think this might just be my last go-round. I’m bereft of words.’”

Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen in Falling. (Modern Films)
Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen in Falling. (Modern Films)

“And we both agreed, it was that kind of moment. The next morning, there was a note on my door, on my trailer, with a rose on it. Viggo had written ‘this is supposed to be fun, let’s have some fun tomorrow.’”

In the film, the two share a number of intensely emotional scenes. Henriksen’s Willis is always aggressively finding fault with the world around him and he suffers from a number of health conditions, including the onset of dementia. His son John has his patience stretched to breaking point by the elderly man’s language, prejudices and constant bad temper.

Viggo Mortensen gives direction to Laura Linney and Lance Henriksen. (Modern Films)
Viggo Mortensen gives direction to Laura Linney and Lance Henriksen. (Modern Films)

But, although Henriksen admits there were times when the shoot felt more like five years than the reality of five weeks, the thought of giving up didn’t last for either actor and they were back on the set the following day.

As Mortensen remembers, “We had fun that next day. We turned it around. We did it together, which is the way we did everything and which is the way to do it, really. It’s more fun and more efficient and you tell a better story.”

Lance Henriksen in Falling. (Modern Films)
Lance Henriksen in Falling. (Modern Films)

Originally inspired by memories of his mother as he travelled home from her funeral, Falling sees Mortensen producing, writing and composing the score as well as directing and starring.

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The triple Oscar-nominated actor first attracted attention as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy and went on to star in Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic and Green Book. He and Henriksen worked together for the first time on the 2008 western Appaloosa.

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 23: Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen attend UTA Independent Film Group and Hanway host a Private Screening of "Falling" with Viggo Mortensen and Lance Henricksen during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival at Library Center Theater on January 23, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen host a Private Screening of "Falling" during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Henriksen has appeared in over 130 feature films, playing a wide range of roles from clean cut cops to psychotic villains, and facing enemies including aliens, a terminator and a predator. But he confesses that, in all that time he’s never met or played anybody quite like his Falling character, Willis.

The film also stars Laura Linney, Sverrir Gudnason, Hannah Gross and Mortensen’s frequent collaborator, David Cronenberg.

Falling is in UK and IE cinemas and on digital from Friday, 4 December.

Watch the Falling trailer below