Viggo Mortensen: “Thirteen Lives reflects a very selfless act of humanity”   

Thirteen Lives
(From left) Viggo Mortensen as Rick Stanton, Joel Edgerton as Harry Harris, Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell, Colin Farrell as John Volanthen, and Thiraphat ‘Tui’ Sajakul as Capt. Arnot Sureewong in ‘Thirteen Lives’, directed by Ron Howard.
Vince Valitutti / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

By María Estévez, MWN

‘Thirteen Lives’ chronicles the events of the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue that made global headlines for several months. It narrates about three cave divers who have to make impossible decisions and face life and death bets as they work to save the trapped junior football team and their coach.

Viggo Mortensen stars as diver Rick Stanton, while the real Stanton was involved in the production as an on-set technical adviser. The American actor, poet, painter, musician and filmmaker talked with Metro about the new movie.

What impacted you during the shooting of ‘Thirteen Lives’?

I mean, especially what we had to do underwater. Rick Stanton was there during rehearsals with all the actors; Jason Mallison also came, he was one of the real-life rescuers. They helped us to not only swim like them and move like them but to be safe. And the way we worked as a team reflected what the rescue entailed. We really worked together above water as much as underwater. And underwater, I would say it was maybe even more important because even though you’re shooting a movie, and it’s somewhat a controlled situation, whenever you’re underwater and you’re in caves, it’s dangerous. And so all the actors listened very carefully to what they were showing us, telling us, and watched what they did very carefully. Everybody worked hard. Everybody pulled together.  

Did you follow the story while it happened?

As the rest of the world, of course. It reflected the real rescue in that it was a very selfless, team-oriented effort. That was my motivation for making this movie. It felt, at times, very real. Sometimes too real. There were some very tight spots underwater.

Is it true that you led the group of actors to Ron Howard and asked for the real divers to double you?

Yes, I requested that. We didn’t want anybody else to double us. We are learning this and we’ll do it. Whatever it takes.

You have time to write poems, paint, take photos…

My life is crazy, but I like to have control over that craziness. Even as a child I was always very active, exploring here and there. Now I want to stop, rest, get closer to my personal circle and establish what my next step in life is going to be. As actors, we spend our time planning. I want to dedicate myself to not talking about myself, I want to listen to others.

Do you have many “ifs” in your career?

I try not to guess too much. We (actors) tend to do it all the time. “I should have done that scene like that, or how did I come up with that.” I’m good because, although I question myself, I don’t torture myself. Nor do I live in denial of the evidence.

Thirteen Lives‘ will be released in theaters on July 29, and will be streaming on Amazon Prime Aug. 5.

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