“IT was the best place I’ve seen my movie and the best place I’ve heard it.”

For someone with as storied a career as three-time Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen, that comment marks high praise indeed for the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT).

Known for his roles in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy as well as a number of critically acclaimed works including A History Of Violence, Green Book and Captain Fantastic, Mortensen’s latest work – The Dead Don’t Hurt – had its UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival on Sunday.

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In an exclusive chat with The National, the actor and his co-star Solly McLeod discussed their latest project, their love for the GFT and what it’s like to work alongside one another.

Making a western

Mortensen, who directed, wrote, produced and starred in his latest film, says he’s always been a fan of the western genre.

Specifically, the 19th-century-set The Dead Don’t Hurt focuses on French-Canadian Vivienne (Vicky Krieps), who falls for Danish immigrant Holger Olsen (Mortensen).

Unusually, when Olsen (below) goes off to fight in the US civil war, the story stays at home as Vivienne battles a corrupt mayor and his violent son.

The National:

“As I was writing the story, I realised when it was set and it was about this woman that goes west so it’s a western,” Mortensen says.

“It was natural and I grew up watching them. I realise that most westerns are not good movies. That’s true in most movies, in most genres.

“Most movies are terrible, most scripts are terrible. Probably 95% of movies are not very good, but they’re a living, you get to work and there can be good moments in mediocre movies.

“But some westerns are on a level with the best literature human beings have ever created and the best of the classic westerns are great stories.”

As much as he admits to loving the genre, though, the actor says he still worked hard to put his own spin on this story.

“The main character, the centre of the story at least, is a woman which is somewhat unusual for those movies," Mortensen went on.

“When her male companion goes to war, we don’t go with him and we stay with her. He’s absent and that’s unusual.

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“I didn’t want to make her into a female Rambo character, she’s not that at all, she’s a flesh and blood woman credibly from that period.”

Working with Solly

McLeod, who is originally from Orkney, says the film represents a “milestone” in his career thus far.

He’s already starred in Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon and in the ITV series Tom Jones but it’s clear from speaking about this film how much he enjoyed his role.

When asked what it was like playing the villain (below), he’s keen to say that he’s only “sort of” the typical bad-guy but that playing somebody that complex is more fun.

The National:

“I have fun with every character I play because I try and push it," he said.

"It was very interesting though because me and Viggo had these conversations about how we wanted this character to be charismatic but also dangerous.

“When he’s around, the scene can go either way.”

Mortensen is quick to heap praise on his co-star, telling The National he met McLeod’s family after the premiere.

“You did some really great things in the movie,” Mortensen told the actor.

“I remember a scene towards the end of the film where there’s a confrontation with the father and it’s very intense but in a short space of time you get to understand the dynamic of that relationship.

“We only spoke briefly about that aspect but when I watched Solly do it, there was nothing to say, it was so great.”

He added that he also loved seeing McLeod come to set on his days off to see how other actors were working.

“He cared about the story. It wasn’t just a pay-check and he wanted to see how everybody was doing.”

Watching at the GFT

It's a year of anniversaries for one of Scotland’s most beloved cinemas – the GFT.

This is the 20th edition of the film festival, while it’s been 50 years since the GFT started and 80 years since the building itself was first built.

Mortensen took part in a Q&A session with the audience after yesterday’s screening and said that it was the best setting he’s watched his film in so far.

“It wasn’t just that the audience was great, the space is very welcoming, very conducive to getting into the movie,” he said.

“I’ve not seen the movie better or heard it better than we did yesterday.”

For McLeod, being from Scotland, seeing such an important moment in his career premiere here was extra special.

“It was an added bonus and more," he explained.

"For me, it’s special because I was born in Scotland and lived up in Orkney for such a long time so to come back and have this is really special.

“Maybe even more so for the fact I had my family come and visit, my grandad and uncle came down from Orkney.”

Mortensen added that he also had the pleasure of meeting his co-star’s family with McLeod saying it was particularly special for his grandfather.

“I’m not surprised they were really cool people because you’re a good person and a good person to work with. I loved talking to your grandfather, he was a nice man," Mortensen said.

It's a busy few weeks for McLeod as his other project, tense police-drama Jericho Ridge, is set to screen at the festival on March 9 and March 10. 

The Dead Don't Hurt does not yet have a full release date for the UK.