Apocalypse Now: Viggo Mortensen’s Roads Winds On

CORMAC MCCARTHY’S POST-APOCALYPTIC novel The Road makes strange fodder for a blockbuster film released over Thanksgiving weekend. But actor Viggo Mortensen, who portrays the Man in the movie about a desperate father struggling to survive with his son in a world lain to waste, says The Road‘s bleak vision of an utterly stripped future is closer than we think.

“Further devastation of the air, land and sea is obviously a very real possibility,” Mortensen told Wired.com in an e-mail interview.

Perhaps we should be giving thanks instead of cheerleading the end times with disaster porn like Roland Emmerich’s 2012.

The Road, which opens Wednesday, looks squarely at a humanity on its last legs. But beyond the popcorn appeal of catastrophe — see 2012 for more on that — Mortensen is hoping that the R-rated film, directed by John Hillcoat, shows off the triumph of the human will over dehumanization.

Mortensen’s wide-ranging work in film, photography and music similarly skirts the razor’s edge. His last two movies with David Cronenberg, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence, were destabilizing but accessible fables about living with personal and political annihilation. In Peter Jackson’s world-beating cinematic adaptations of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mortensen played Aragorn, a doubt-ridden king who helped save Middle-Earth from falling into madness and chaos.

In music, he’s collaborated with guitar wizard Buckethead and other musicians to create a series of estranged sonic atmospheres. He sells the music mostly online through indie publisher Perceval Press, which also offers books of Mortensen’s evocative and distorted photography, as well as the work of other artists that he publishes.

Mortensen talked about The Road and its stark message — as well as David Lynch, The Hobbit, McCarthy’s speculative mastery and much more — in an in-depth interview before the movie’s release.

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