Bad Company

“Htory of Violence kind of worked like a long preparatory experience for Eastern Promises. Like a dress rehearsal,” said Viggo Mortensen, via phone from the Toronto Film Festival where last Saturday the new David Cronenberg-directed movie won the audience prize for best film. The 48-year-old actor’s performance as an enigmatic Russian mobster-in-training is drawing deserved raves for its quietly intense subtleties. “David always has his eyes and ears open, and he’s paying attention to what you’re doing,” said Mr. Mortensen. “As an actor that makes you feel comfortable, and makes you feel like your efforts are appreciated.”

He noted that Mr. Cronenberg tends to work with the same crew movie after movie. “He likes to work with people who think the way he does, which is about the story and how do we improve this as a team effort. By the time we got into shooting A History of Violence he knew what I was interested in. It’s not just what’s good for my character, but what can my character be in order to be useful to the story, and to the other actors.”

Eastern Promises is playing at Loews Lincoln Square cinema.