“This is one of the best films I have ever been involved in,” admits veteran actor Lance Henriksen about his role in Viggo Mortensen‘s directorial debut “Falling.” Henriksen boasts extensive credits on screen, including over 250 films since the 1960s. This year he delivers what is arguably one of the most acclaimed performances of his long career as an emotionally abusive father suffering with dementia. Watch our exclusive video interview with Henriksen above.
In “Falling,” Henriksen co-stars as Willis Peterson, a deeply conservative and homophobic man fading into dementia. His deteriorating health forces him to sell the remote family farm and move to California to live closer to his son John (Mortensen), a middle-aged gay man. The film flashes back to Willis’ past (played as a younger man by Sverrir Gudnason) as it fleshes out the origins of their fractured relationship.
The film poignantly contemplates the complicated relationship between an emotionally stunted father and his pensive and guarded son. For much of the film, as Willis cruelly castigates and criticizes his son, as John selflessly absorbs each barb. But the relentless verbal attacks from the deteriorating Willis slowly build to a crescendo when the two men explode in a truly confronting scene in which years of pent up rage, resentment and sadness eventually boil over.
So much was riding on this scene for Henriksen, adamant that it come across as authentically as possible. “We all lived it. We didn’t act it,” he reveals. “The search for that character; my whole life was coming through it. I don’t ever want to get caught acting, I don’t like it,” Henriksen declares. “I worry about the clichés involved, where you’re suddenly pandering for acceptance.”
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