Viggo Mortensen To Direct New Western Movie

Viggo Mortensen is set to direct and star in the upcoming western The Dead Don't Hurt.

By Joshua Jones | Published

Viggo Mortensen–best known for his role as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings franchise–is following in the footsteps of Kevin Costner by directing his own western movie. According to Deadline, the actor will direct and star in The Dead Don’t Hurt. Filming for the western love story will reportedly begin on October 12th in Canada.

Viggo Mortensen’s directorial effort will also star Vicky Krieps, who last year starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller Old. Deadline notes that Tailpot Studio is completely behind in funding the project. Filming will also occur in Ontario and British Columbia.

The Dead Don’t Hurt centers on Krieps as an independent French Canadian, Vivienne Le Coudy, who embarks on a relationship with Viggo Mortensen’s character Holger Olsen. After meeting in San Francisco, the two agree to travel to Olsen’s home near a quiet town called Elk Flats, where they start a new life together. When the Civil War separates the couple, Vivienne is forced to fend for herself in a land controlled by a powerful rancher.

While discussing the project, Viggo Mortensen said he wanted to tell a story “of a uniquely resilient woman living in a lawless and isolated part of the U.S.” during the 1860s. Mortensen described Vivienne as “courageous, unfailingly honest, and direct” and that he wanted to have a woman “lead the way in [the] story by virtue of her fiercely uncompromising nature.”

The actor said he was “very fortunate” to have Krieps star in the project.

The Dead Don’t Hurt reunites Viggo Mortensen with cinematographer Marcel Zyskind, who collaborated with Mortensen on 2014’s The Two Faces of January as well as on his 2020 directorial debut Falling. The latter film is a drama centering on a middle-aged gay man whose homophobic father discovers he has dementia, forcing him to sell his home and move to Los Angeles with his son.

Falling won the 2020 Sabastiane Award from the Directors Guild of Canada.

viggo mortensen
Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen in Falling (2020)

The Dead Don’t Hurt also stars House of the Dragon’s Solly McLeod and Blonde’s Garret Dillahunt. No release date for the project has been set.

Regina Solórzano (Los Reyes del Mundo) produces Viggo Mortensen’s second directorial effort. Solórzano said of the film that it “revolutionizes the codes of the Western genre.” She discussed how it leaves “the concept of war of men aside” and presents a “love story free of archetypes.”

The film also is produced by Jeremy Thomas, who worked with Mortensen on David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.

The Lord of the Rings actor’s new film Crimes of the Future has received some buzz after it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The Viggo Mortensen-led body horror film had a theatrical release in France on May 25th, 2022 and opened in Canada a week afterward. It received largely positive reviews from critics, with THR’s David Rooney explicitly pointing out the performances of Mortensen and his co-star Lea Seydoux.

Viggo Mortensen recently starred in the biographical survival film Thirteen Lives alongside Collin Farrell and Joel Edgerton. It was Mortensen’s last film before announcing his second directorial project.

The Viggo Mortensen western drama could potentially be an awards contender. Of course, everything depends on how well the film is received and how far the studio decides to push for it during awards season. Of course, the upcoming Kevin Costner western movie, Horizon, is shaping up to also be a awards darling.