To get inside the mind of the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud for "A Dangerous Method," Viggo Mortensen did extensive research and mulled the details with director David Cronenberg. The effort has paid off with a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor. Mortensen spoke by phone to 24 Frames' Elena Howe about how he found out, how he feels and what else he's up to.
E.H.: How did you find out about your nomination?
V.M.: I’m in Madrid. It’s nine hours later, but they don’t show that here anyway. I was headed to work — I’m doing a play — and a friend called and told me. I’m very grateful, but I would have been even happier if [director] David [Cronenberg] had been included. I owe it to him. He made a risky decision to cast me as Freud, and I’m glad to see his hunch paid off. I’m proud to represent “A Dangerous Method” at the Globes.
E.H.: What is the play you’re doing?
V.M.: Ariel Dorfman, who wrote that play “Death and the Maiden,” he wrote one called “Purgatorio,” which is what I’m doing. It’s heavy on dialogue, like Freud, so I got that back to back. I haven’t been in a play for over 20 years, and there’s lots of dialogue. At first I regretted [signing on for it]. But it’s going well now.
E.H.: How did you prepare to play Sigmund Freud?
V.M.: I had real concerns that it wasn’t a good fit for me. I did it because it was David. Had another director proposed this, I wouldn’t have. But once I got my mind around how to present him — he had a good sense of humor and a sense of irony, which I could relate to — and I actually enjoyed having a lot of dialogue, and now doing the play, it’s like out of the frying pan and into the fire.
I always do a lot of research. I read everything I could that Freud had written and what his contemporaries had written and just informed myself about the period and Western Europe of the time.
E.H.: You’ve worked with David Cronenberg three times now. How did this production go?