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David Cronenberg says he ‘harassed’ Viggo Mortensen into starring in Crimes of the Future

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David Cronenberg has said that he had to convince Viggo Mortensen to take on the lead role in his new film, Crimes of the Future.

The 62-year-old actor, who worked with director Cronenberg on three previous films – A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method – was reluctant to star as Saul, a performance artist who has his organs removed by his partner in a dystopian future without physical pain.

In a new interview with Vanity Fair at Cannes Film Festival, where the movie premiered this week, Cronenberg elaborated on the process of pressuring Mortensen into taking the main part.

“I harassed him. I berated him. I phoned him and texted him. Harangued him until he finally agreed to play the lead instead,” explained Cronenberg, after Mortensen initially said he wanted to play the role of a “cop” in the film.

Mortenson, who was also present for the interview, didn’t contradict The Fly director. “I read it and thought this is a great film of our story, I’d like to be sort of the bad guy. The guy who’s running the sting operation,” he said.

Still, the experience of making the film eventually earned a reluctant Mortenson’s nod of approval.

“In the end I liked [it] as an acting exercise because the foundation of good acting really is good reacting,” explained Mortensen. “And this character is reacting to what is happening to his body, to his environment, to what his partner is doing — what they are doing together to his body.”

The film, which stars Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux, received a six minute standing ovation at Cannes. However, it also provoked other audience members to walk out.

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