Matt Ross and Viggo Mortensen represented at Rome Film Fest Monday for the Italian premiere of Captain Fantastic. Mortensen plays Ben, a father isolated in the wilderness, raising his family to peak mental and physical form, until his wife’s sudden death calls them back to civilization.
Ross wrote and directed the film as an ode to fatherhood and what he can offer his children, resulting in an Un Certain Regard best director win at Cannes this year. The film also tackles the importance of establishing dialogue among differing opinions, a theme not lost on the talents in the current U.S. political election.
Green Party supporter Mortensen is disgusted with where the election has netted out. “Not surprisingly, it’s terrible. Very poor choice this time around — maybe the worst version of a presidential campaign that I can remember in my lifetime,” he said.
Ross had less than choice words for Republican nominee Donald Trump. “I think it’s an embarrassment, profoundly. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think it’s an embarrassment. We’re all shocked that it’s gone on this far. But I have to say, you look around the world, and we’re not the only country that has this. We can all sit around here, and we know exactly the names. In this country you had the same problem, I think,” said Ross on comparisons between Donald Trump and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
“You look at Russia. There are many other countries that have this. It seems like a bad Hollywood movie, that a reality show host is actually the nominee for one of the major political parties,” Ross said. “It’s also profoundly depressing I think, to have someone who’s clearly a racist, clearly a sexist. He’s not qualified in any way to be on that stage and the fact that there’s anyone who would vote for him is shocking to me.” Mortensen responded, “I agree.”
The Oscar-nominated actor said that he was drawn to the Captain Fantastic role as a lefty father raising his family off the grid because it was a role of complexities that didn’t paint anyone as a good guy or a bad guy.
“I love the fact that he is very much against intolerance and rigidity,” Mortensen said. “He’s always talking about being flexible. Open your mind. Form your own opinions. Defend your opinions. If your opinion sounds better than mine and you convince me, then I’m open to changing my mind.”