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Is Viggo De Niro?

Tuesday 31 January 2012, 15:32

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Viggo Mortensen is coming on the Kermode and Mayo's Films Review show this week to talk about his new film A Dangerous Method.

A while back I said that he was the natural successor to Robert De Niro - do you agree with me?

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    Comment number 1.

    The Robert De Niro of old who only made great films? Oh, you mean like The Deer Hunter, Awakenings and Cape Fear? I'm just humouring you.

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    Comment number 2.

    "You talking to Frodo?"

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    Comment number 3.

    In terms of portfolio, less is more, especially if much of it is album filler quality. Robert De Nero has sullied his previous work by paying the rent so many times. Viggo Mortensen on the other hand is the Renaissance man. Aside from acting, he speaks several languages, has jazz albums, is a decent photographer, painter, the list goes on. He always comes across very well in interviews, and is firmly outside the Hollywood clique. He does so many other things that Hollywood types tend to reject him. Though, he has so much else going on that he could care less for any accolades Hollywood might bestow. Which is just as well, as they will never see him as any De Nero? There’s the shame of it.

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    Comment number 4.

    Well, I see where you're going, I understand what you're saying, and the answer is: humm! The thing is I would say that Viggo Mortensen is, at least, as good of an actor as De Niro, but I wouldn't say he is "the new old Robert De Niro" just because I think that would be insulting... Viggo is something else... he is Viggo! And if he wasn't an original, we wouldn't even care about him. Don't put him in a box, Doc. He's something else entirelly. He is Viggo Mortensen! De Niro has no "The Road", and Viggo has no "Taxi Driver". And thank the heavens for that, 'cause there are enough unoriginal ideas running around Hollywood already!
    Listen to you friday... as usual! Have a good one!

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    Comment number 5.

    No I don't think so. However I'd say Michael Fassbender is on the way to becoming the new old Robert De Niro.

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    Comment number 6.

    may seem an obvious comment but found it bizarre you left out viggo's biggest set of films: the lord of the rings trilogy - one of the best performances in it.

    Dont think hes the new de niro (not fan of the 'new' tag generally) simply because he dosnt have the iconic status de niro had, in terms of acting ability yeah just as great.

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    Comment number 7.

    The trouble I have with answering that question is that the more I've watched De Niro's performances and the more I've thought about them critically the more I think he is overrated. Yes, he starred in some good films but were the films good because of his presence or was it their memorable dialogue and would they have worked just as well without him?

    On the other hand, I'm not yet decided on whether Viggo is a really great actor but I can believe that he's on his way to attaining that accolade. I think he's shown far greater range and acting ability than De Niro ever has. De Niro is always recognisable as De Niro in the roles he plays, a truly great actor manages to convince you that he is someone else for two hours.

    So, in summary, do I think Viggo is the new (old) De Niro? Only in so far as both men were careful to chose their early roles, in all other respects I think Viggo might at the end of his career be regarded as a far better actor.

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    Comment number 8.

    I'm glad you added the proviso "the new 'old' Robert DeNiro". There is a shudder, not unlike one produced by 'old' David Cronenberg, if one imagines Viggo's career trajectory plumeting to the likes of Meet The ..... I think we can be hopeful by virtue of how Bob and Viggo's careers have differed so far.

    First of all, Viggo, by being in the Tolkien "franchise" has probably secured himself financially to be able to be choosy about his projects for some time to come. De Niro never really had that kind of success, and perhaps we're all paying for it now with his work in "comedy".

    Bob has been in many more great movies (arguably by the same point in his career), where Viggo has mostly given great performances in good movies. If you put aside the Tolkien behemoth, you might nominate the 1st two Cronenberg's as great (although I'd only plumb for A History of Violence, Viggo's Bela Lugosi accent in Eastern Promises throws me out of the movie), I've not seen Indian Runner and that leaves the sadly obscure Philip Ridley offerings. Also, The Road is not a great movie although Viggo is heartbreaking in it.
    Whereas Bob had Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Godfather II, Raging Bull, King of Comedy and Goodfellas. Perhaps you really need the perfect storm of role actor film director to create the "iconic" as De Niro has experienced.

    So far Viggo hasn't gone into the furrow of movie/scene stealing cameos that Bob has ploughed. I've not seen Viggo's turn in The Prophecy as Lucifer (which was mentioned on your podcast's facebook page by a commenter), but I hope to God he doesn't pop an egg in his mouth.

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    Comment number 9.

    For me, Viggo is similar to De Niro in the way that they are both easy to appreciate but difficult to enjoy. They both have great films under their belts and they can both act their brains out. And they've both been guilty of boring me to tears in the cinema.

    For every The Road, there's an Eastern Promises to snooze through. For every Casino there's a Godsend.

    But even when they have a decent script, their style of internalized acting, especially in the hands of inexperienced directors, often leaves me feeling ignored as an audience member.

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    Comment number 10.

    I think he's a brilliant actor who I have a lot of respect for, but I don't think the de Niro comparison really works, other then a way of saying you really like him. He's already much older then Robert de Niro when he did the performances for which he is most remembered, and he has yet to do anything that has captured the public's attention in the way that Taxi Driver, Mean Streets and Raging Bull did. Personally, Eastern Promises is one of my favourite films of all time, so I'm slightly biased, but most people my age (17) know him almost exclusively as that guy from Lord of the Rings.

    As someone else has said above, Michael Fassbender is way closer to the type of actor Robert de Niro was in the 70s and 80's, in the riveting performances he's been giving in the past few years.

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    Comment number 11.

    I love Viggo Mortensen, ever since LOTR I was captivated by him, I also love Robert de Niro, an iconic figure with an endless list of mesmerising performances in spectacular films.

    But is Viggo Mortensen the new Bobby de Niro? No - he's better.

    He hasn't got the iconic figure yet, but I hope he will, I think he'll be an actor, much like de Niro, everyone will remember in years to come, and therefore, won't win an Oscar until he's in his 50s or 60s and they give him one for not giving him one earlier on his career...*cough* Gary Oldman *cough* Scorcese.

    But I think he's more than de Niro, a better actor with a fascinating career and future...

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    Comment number 12.

    Maybe it's a generational thing (following on from #10 Devon Shaddick) - for me it's fairer to say that Robert de Niro is the old Viggo Mortensen!

    Another great film that was off the list was "Hidalgo", a relatively unknown story about the self-aggrandised adventures of the inveterate liar and long-distance rider Frank Hopkins. It may not be the best film ever - in fact far from it - but Mortensen's performance in the starring role is spellbinding and, for me, makes the movie. If that's your criterion for making the new Robert de Niro then yeah, he's the new Robert de Niro.

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    Comment number 13.

    "A bird will fall frozen dead from a bow, without ever having felt sorry for itself."

    "This is this."

    As the great Cazale said: "Nobody ever knows what the **** you're talking about."

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    Comment number 14.

    Viggo's always been solid, no matter the film. But I think the comparison to make is that Viggo's quality choices in his later years, while maybe not quite as mind blowing as early De Niro, definitely share that vibe of someone savvy making intelligent choices.
    So up to a point - "Old" Viggo=Young De Niro.

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    Comment number 15.

    "Now I don't think A Dangerous Method is great"...

    "You know, the Robert De Niro who only made really great movies"...

    Are Hidalgo and Appaloosa really great movies? I think there's a distinction between actors who are always entertaining to watch and those who consciously chose to appear only in great films, and Viggo Mortensen definitely falls into the former. Surely a better example of a modern Robert De Niro would be Daniel Day Lewis (one year older than Viggo) - more selective and for my money, barring the unfortunate mess that was Nine, far more consistent.

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    Comment number 16.

    Not to say that Viggo is bad in any way, But I think Fassbender and Gosling are the De Niro and Pacino of today.

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    Comment number 17.

    Someone above lists The Road ahead of Eastern Promises?!? No accounting for taste I guess. I remember seeing Viggo in Witness, where he played on of the young Amish men. He's blessed with a face that, like De Nero, doesn't have to move a lot to express feeling and emotion. Viggo doesn't seem to do a whole lot at times, but I still imagine I can read his face and eyes. He may well be thinking about the Times crossword puzzle at the time, but it works.
    Let's not forget Daniel Day Lewis. NO one comes close when living a character from the inside out. Fasbender too is in that list. Ryan Gosling may not be far off. He's great in Half Nelson. He can certainly do enigmatic from the inside out. He's not done enough yet for us to make a fair assumption on his over all range.

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    Comment number 18.

    He played Lucifer in Christopher Walken's favourite angel film.

    M'lud I rest my case.

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    Comment number 19.

    Viggo is definitely the new DeNiro. But let's be serious, Daniel Day-Lewis will always be the Daniel Day-Lewis of acting.

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    Comment number 20.

    I suppose its because I am only 22, but I'm not very aware of De Niro's good films.
    I think I haven't seen most of them, so I guess I can't really say, but I don't think that Viggo is the new De Niro mainly because I've never thought that any actor is "the new" version of another.
    I think its a rather unfair comparission also because De Niro is old (by hollywood standards) and once actors get past a certain age, most simply are not offered amazing roles in great films, and so the sad truth is that if they want to keep earning money, they will have to star in crummy films.
    Perhaps when Viggo is 50+ he will be starring in Fockers; The Next Generation (hollywood, if you use that, i want payment). It is hard to tell because even if you earn millions and spend it wisely, prices will still rise, recessions occure, your currency can still plummet in value, and you are trying to maintain having an expensive lifestyle. Ultimately actors are still humans who need to pay their bills.
    As for Viggos films, my favourite was the Rings triology, and I think that will probably end up being his defining role.
    Time will ultimately tell, but I think that Viggo will always be held in high regard, as he is a very good actor.


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