Viggo Mortensen Defends Playing Gay Role in New Film

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday November 13, 2020

The Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen is defending his decision to play a gay character in his new film "Falling," Reuters reports.

For the film, which Mortensen also wrote and directed, the "Lord of the Rings" actor explained that the character is "not a gimmick, anchor or some trigger," but something he carefully considered while penning the script.

Also, making his point in a rather facetious way, Mortensen also apologized "to all the proctologists for casting David Cronenberg," who plays a colorectal surgeon.

"There are certain characters I'm not going to play. I wouldn't play Eric, the Chinese-Hawaiian American," Mortenson said.

In "Falling," Mortensen plays John, a gay man whose anti-gay father Willis (played by Lance Henriksen) moves to Los Angeles to be near his son after being diagnosed with dementia. Mortensen said the idea of making John gay came about after writing a scene in which John receives a call from his partner. "I thought, what if it's not a wife? What if it's a husband? I'll try that. I'll write the next scene and see how it feels. If it doesn't work or feels somehow not right for the story, then I won't use it, but I liked it."

Issues of LGBTQ representation — and equity between straight cisgender and LGBTQ actors — is a hot-button issue, as actresses Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson learned after initially accepting and then backing out of playing transgender roles. Questions remains as to who has permission to tell the stories of people from different communities. Where equity is concerned, The Advocate points to a list of 61 straight actors who received Oscar nominations for playing LGBTQ roles — which might be fine if there weren't such a paucity of similar plaudits for out and open LGBTQ actors.

Watch the trailer for "Falling":

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.