Viggo Mortensen put his linguistic skills to the test in new movie Far From Men by learning French and Arabic for the project.
The star, whose father is Danish, has previously showed off his vast knowledge of foreign languages by speaking Danish, Russian, Swedish, Spanish and German on film, but he pushed himself a little further for the upcoming French-language drama by picking up phrases in Arabic to accurately portray Daru, a former soldier-turned-schoolteacher caught up in Algeria’s war of independence.
Mortensen admits practicing his French and Arabic onscreen in director David Oelhoffen’s movie was part of the appeal of the project.
He tells the Associated Press, “You only can improve if you’re challenged. You either learn or you fail.”
The actor also went out of his way to find good tutors to help him perfect the accents.
He tells The Hollywood Reporter, “For Daru, it was important for him to speak French with an accent that would be particular to this guy from this part of Algeria and an Arabic that was correct. I worked hard on that. The French took a little longer just to make sure it was right…
“I think I worked (on the accents) a lot. I worked for months and in Spain, where I live, I found someone who was from North Africa, and he helped me a lot. I looked at the whole script, and I made sure I could say it all in Arabic and made sure it was Arabic from that region.”
Mortensen’s efforts appear to have paid off – Far From Men, also known as Loin des hommes, premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday to generally positive reviews.