Cast & Crew: Viggo Mortensen as Elias

28 11 2007

It is probably quite well known that initially there were some other choices for Platoon cast. Kevin Costner for Barnes, Emilio Estevez (Charlie Sheen’s brother), Keanu Reeves and Kyle McLachlan for Chris. But not many people know that young Viggo Mortensen was considered for the part of Elias. 

Yes, there is a whole bunch of similarities between Mortensen and Dafoe, they even look like relatives. To me it seems a little bit odd that both were considered for the part, despite the fact that in the original script Elias was an Indian!


Rebel King
GQ magazine, April 2004

Quote: Oliver Stone cast Viggo as a sergeant in a war movie that he was making. Platoon. Then the financing fell through but Viggo knew that Oliver Stone would get the movie made in the end, and he would be ready as an actor had ever been. For the next year, Viggo read every book on Vietnam he could lay his hands on. “I researched that part as thoroughly as I f*****g could,” he remembers. “Mentally and in every way. Physically.” 

One day he heard that the film was going into production and that Oliver Stone had recast his role, giving it to Willem Dafoe. About ten years later Viggo met with Stone again, when the director was looking to make a movie about Manuel Noriega.  “Oh, it’s great to meet you,” the director told him. Viggo pointed out that they had met several times before (Viggo had also auditioned for a part in Salvador, in Spanish, for Stone).  “He didn’t seem to remember much of any of it at all,” Viggo reflects. “Pretty shocking because I took it pretty seriously.”   



In Conversation With Viggo Mortensen
By Dorian Lynskey, Empire, March 2008

EMPIRE: Is it true you were originally chosen for the Willem Dafoe role in Platoon

MORTENSEN: Yeah, well, at that time Oliver Stone wasn’t such a big deal, and it was going to be a smaller budget. He was going around raising the money using my videotaped audition. Then he was able to raise more money with the requirement that he had someone known, and I was completely unknown. I can totally understand on a business level why it didn’t happen. It’s just that I laboured for a year or more under the illusion that I had the part, and so I spent a year reading every paper, every book, every essay, watching every film, every documentary about Vietnam. I don’t regret it because I learned a lot, but I was so ready to play that part. I prepared for that as rigorously as anything I’ve ever worked on and it didn’t happen. It was frustrating.” 



Sigh, it would be great to watch those old audition tapes. Actually, both articles are very disappointing: both interviewers changed the subject as soon as it started to be really interesting… 😦

Mortensen is a guy who traveled to Ural and studied Russian prison tattoos for Eastern Promises, he visits birthplaces of his characters to get the accent right, he is obsessed with getting his characters accurate, and giving them backgrounds. 

I have absolutely no doubts he would be good for the part but of course different, probably a bit darker. And younger, still don’t have the exact year when the first preproduction for Platoon started, I think some time 83 or 84, so Mortensen was 26 then, closer to the original concept of Elias, a 23 years old “kid”. BTW, I can hardly imagine what would happen if two “accuracy junkies”, Mortensen and Dale Dye met on the set. 🙂



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