Published: 9 February, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis don’t exactly have a reputation as being a barrel of laughs.
But for actor Viggo Mortensen – who is starring as Freud in A Dangerous Method, a new film studying Freud’s relationship with Carl Jung – one of the
key aspects of the philosopher-
Mortensen – who has spent two years regularly visiting Freud’s Hampstead home in Maresfield Gardens, now the Freud Museum, as he prepared himself to take on the mantle of the father of the discipline – gave a talk at the museum last week.
He said discovering Freud’s quick wit and his fun-loving side had given him a way into playing the character.
“I look nothing like Freud at any stage of his life,” Mortensen said.
“I got some help from make up, a new nose, eyes and I put on a few pounds. But to really make him work, to be truly believable, I needed to research his life and his works.”
It meant that as well as spending time at his Hampstead home, Mortensen visited Vienna and Freud’s birthplace in the small, eastern European town of Pribor, in what is now the Czech Republic.
“I went to lots of antiquarian bookshops and found editions of works he would have had his nose buried in,” reveals the actor.
“And the more I read about him, the more I realised a key trait to him was he was actually very funny. He had a great sense of humour.
“I knew he had written about jokes and that helped me as an actor. It was a way in, a way to make him human.
I did not want to have to take him too seriously, [because] if you do not have fun then the audience will not, either.
“I was able to relax and put some irony into the character. He could speak for hours in a very engaging way. He was very witty in a direct manner.”
Director David Cronenberg, with whom Mortensen has worked before, persuaded him he could take on the Freud mantle....................
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