Viggo Mortensen would choose directing over acting

The Lord of the Rings star's second directorial movie The Dead Don't Hurt is in UK cinemas this week

The Don't Don't Hurt, written, directing and starring Viggo Mortensen. (Signature)
The Don't Don't Hurt, written, directing and starring Viggo Mortensen. (Signature)

Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen has revealed he would choose to direct rather than act in his next movie if he had the choice.

The Oscar-nominated actor is about to release his second film as director, western The Dead Don’t Hurt, and said he loved the experience of writing and creating the whole film so much that he would pick directing over acting if he could.

Mortensen, who acts in a supporting role in his new film, made his debut behind the camera with 2020 drama Falling, and has recently been touring festivals to promote his latest film, all about a French-Canadian woman trying to survive in civil war-era California.

And he’s keen to get his next film off the ground as soon as possible. He said: "If I had my choice, I would be making another one right now. I'd like to be preparing another one and trying to find the money to make that one. We'll see."

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When asked if he would choose directing over another acting gig, he replied: "If I had a choice, then yeah I would.

"They're both about storytelling. As an actor, I've always been involved and attentive and interested in how everybody does their job. Because when it really works, it's a collective effort that really gels.

“A director who’s facilitating really good teamwork are the best of the ones I've seen. And I've been lucky to work with some very good directors."

Watch a trailer for The Dead Don't Hurt

Mortensen, who wrote, directed and scored the new movie, cites Jane Campion, Lord of the Rings creator Peter Jackson, 13 Lives director Ron Howard and maverick film-maker David Cronenberg among his favourite people to learn from.

Speaking at the Glasgow Film Festival, where The Dead Don’t Hurt was given its UK premiere, he added: "Directing is not that different from my interest as an actor. It’s just that it takes longer because it’s someone who has had to write it or find a script and prepare it, find the money and pre-production and bringing the music and the sound mix together. And then you have to promote it, so it's a long period.

"Some directors somehow manage to do a film every year or two. I wish I could. So I hope (this film) works and people like it as much as they did in Glasgow because if the movie does well enough, it will be easier for me to go to someone with another strange story and ask if they’d be willing to pay for it.”

The Don't Don't Hurt, written, directing and starring Viggo Mortensen. (Signature)
Vicky Krieps and Viggo Mortensen in The Don't Don't Hurt. (Signature)

Mortensen ‘s new film stars Vicky Krieps (The Phantom Thread) in the lead role alongside veteran stars such as Danny Huston, son of legendary Western director John Huston, and Garret Dillahunt, as well as young Scottish actor Solly McLeod in what his director hopes will be a breakthrough role.

"With Vicky, I knew she had the qualities and seemed like the kind of person that was very committed when she took on the job, but she was even better than I dreamed.

"With Solly, I suppose, I was taking a chance because he was not someone who had done a lot of stuff but I just had a really strong feeling that he could do this and could get that combination of charm and viciousness.

"You can't take your eyes off him. He's frightening, he's charming, he's unpredictable and that's really good.

The Don't Don't Hurt, written, directing and starring Viggo Mortensen. (Signature)
Solly McLeod in The Don't Don't Hurt. (Signature)

"Danny Huston was a sure bet. He's just a really fine actor and in a way suppose, like a good luck charm being John Huston's son."

He added: "It’s fun casting. If you get the right cast together, you've done a lot of the work. You have to get them to harmonise well together.

The Dead Don’t Hurt is in UK cinemas from 7 June.