The big twist at the end of 2007’s “Eastern Promises”—that Viggo Mortensen’s character, a Russian gangster named Nikolai, is really working for a British intelligence service—raised as many questions as it answered. Now director David Cronenberg is looking to explore those open possibilities as he dives back into the world of the Russian mafia with an “Eastern Promises” sequel.
“We are moving forward with it,” Cronenberg told MTV News in an exclusive chat. “We all are excited about the idea of doing a sequel.”
The “we” includes Mortensen, who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Nikolai; the film’s screenwriter, Steven Knight; original producer Paul Webster; and original studio, Focus Features.
“We are going to have a meeting very soon between me, Steve Knight and Paul Webster to discuss what the script would be,” Cronenberg said. “I have some very strong ideas about what I would like to see, but I would like to hear what they have to say as well. And then after that, if all goes well, Steve goes away and writes a great script. If we all like it, we make it.”
As beloved, and diverse, as Cronenberg’s filmography is—everything from the head-exploding horror of “Scanners” to the creepy sci-fi mind-bender “The Fly” to his other Viggo-staring critical success “The History of Violence"—the director has never before had any interest in revisiting his work. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where I actually want to do a sequel to something,” he admitted. “I’ve never had the desire to do that before. But in this case, I thought we had unfinished business with those characters. I didn’t feel that we had finished with Nikolai and we had done a lot of research that was more than we could stuff into that one movie.”
While Nikolai’s character will surely be the focus of the new movie, it’s too early to tell if other central characters, like Naomi Watts’ British midwife Anna or Vincent Cassel’s unstable gangster Kirill, will factor into the plot. And, of course, there’s the question of whether those actors would sign on to the project.
At this juncture, Cronenberg is simply intrigued by the opportunity to reunite with Mortensen for a third film. “Viggo is a very special guy,” said Cronenberg. “I consider him a personal friend and we communicate all the time. That doesn’t always happen with actors. He’s very serious about his acting. But he’s really a funny guy. We laugh a lot. We giggle a lot.”
Did the ending of first film leave you begging for more or shaking your head? How is Mortensen going to top his famous nude sauna brawl from the original?