The specter of dementia hovers over Viggo Mortensen. In addition to his parents suffering from the disease, he lost all but one of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even his stepfather to dementia, per USA Today. To honor the memories of those he lost, Mortensen made the 2020 film “Falling,” his directorial debut, which is inspired by his own experiences with the disease. Through the film, he sought to depict dementia in a far more realistic way than many Hollywood predecessors, which he believes often rely on sanitizing the serious disease.
When speaking with Esquire, he discussed his anxiety at witnessing his father’s mental degeneration. He noted that the elder Viggo suffered outbursts of rage, believing that people were trying to steal his farmland, despite the fact that he had already sold it. “He calls me up one night and says, ‘Someone’s on my property, I’m gonna shoot them.’ I said, ‘You can’t f***ing shoot them, you don’t own it anymore!’” the actor recalled.
Subsequently, having dealt with loss through dementia on numerous occasions, Mortensen believes it’s an inevitability that he, too, will decline as his parents did. “I was telling a friend of mine about this: ‘I guess it’s only a matter of time before I get it,’” he told GQ, though he said that a blood test suggested he didn’t have the genetic markers for the disease. Even so, he hasn’t ruled it out entirely. “Life is unpredictable, as we’ve seen this past year, certainly,” he said.