Over the past several years, a lot more attention has been paid to how Hollywood casts LGBTQ+ characters in films and TV projects. In years past, it was common for straight actors to play gay characters and be praised for their “brave” career choices. Now, we’re seeing more inclusion in casting, with many gay actors landing roles of gay characters, possibly adding more authenticity to the performance. And one of the recent films to receive a bit of backlash for its casting choices is “Falling,” which features Viggo Mortensen playing the role of a gay man.
In a conversation with The Times, Mortensen is asked about the criticism of him being cast as a gay man in the drama about the relationship between an aging parent with dementia and the grown son that is in his life. Adding to the complexity of Mortensen playing a gay character is the fact that the film is written and directed by the actor, so he, in fact, cast himself in the role. And in response to the controversy, he thinks people need to understand that we don’t know everything there is to know about his life, so people shouldn’t judge what roles he takes.
“Look, these are the times we’re living in, and I think it’s healthy that those issues are brought up,” Mortensen said. “The short answer is that I didn’t think it was a problem. And people then ask me, ‘Well what about Terry Chen, who plays my husband in the film, is he a homosexual?’ And the answer is I don’t know, and I would never have the temerity to ask someone if they were, during the casting process.”
He continued, “And how do you know what my life is? You’re assuming that I’m completely straight. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. And it’s frankly none of your business. I want my movie to work, and I want the character of John to be effective. So if I didn’t think it was a good idea I wouldn’t do it.”
“Falling” debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has played a variety of festivals throughout the year. It is currently being released throughout Europe, but a full US release has yet to be announced.