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Eastern Promises (2007) Poster

Trivia

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One day after shooting, Viggo Mortensen went to a pub without washing off his tattoos or even changing out of his costume. He overheard a couple speaking Russian and decided to eavesdrop, to see if he could understand what they were saying. He caught a few words before they stopped mid-sentence. When he turned around, he saw they were staring at the tattoos on his hands; they were scared, as they assumed he was a real member of Vory v Zakone.
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The tattoos around Nikolai's - Viggo Mortensen's character - ankles read "Where are you going?" and "What the fuck do you care?" in Russian. Mortensen thought that they were hilarious, that 'one foot doesn't respect the other.'
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The scene where Semyon demonstrates his musical skills to the little girls was not dubbed. Armin Mueller-Stahl does play the violin in real life, and was a noted concert violinist in his youth.
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None of the characters who were members of the Vory v Zakone used a gun throughout the movie. The reason for this is that when doing research on Russian organized crime, David Cronenberg discovered that members of the Vory v Zakone typically prefer to use knives instead of guns. The rationale for this is that if Vory v Zakone members were arrested by police and questioned as to why they were in possession of such weapons, the suspects could evade suspicion by claiming that the knives were simply for linoleum cutting.
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The nine actors in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) all got tattoos that said "the nine" in elvish. Even though they promised not to show them on camera, Viggo Mortensen's elvish tattoo is visible on his left shoulder in the scenes where he has no shirt.
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To prepare for his role, Viggo Mortensen traveled alone to Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Ural Mountain region of Siberia, where he spent five days driving around without a translator. He read books on the gangs of the Vory v Zakone (thieves in law), Russian prison culture and the importance of prison tattoos as criminal résumés, and perfected his character's Siberian accent and learned lines in Russian, Ukrainian and English. During filming, he used worry beads made in prison from melted-down plastic cigarette lighters and decorated his trailer with copies of Russian icons.
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For the bathhouse fight scene, the scene was choreographed with the actors instead of stuntmen. The actors had to train in specific fighting styles chosen for their characters and it took two days to shoot on location in London. According to the DVD commentary, both Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg agreed that Nikolai had to fight his would-be killers completely nude.
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Naomi Watts discovered she was pregnant with her son Alexander two weeks into shooting this movie. She initially tried to hide it, but costume designer Denise Cronenberg found out about it.
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Nikolai's language switches to Ukrainian when speaking to the Ukrainian prostitute.
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A sequel was planned but never materialized.
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Viggo Mortensen says his performance was informed by Vladimir Putin. He watched Russian TV daily to immerse himself in the language, and Putin was on the news constantly. Viggo noted his "unfazed look no matter what was happening, or that cat-that-swallowed-the-canary" expressions, his stance, and how he held his hands. He also took into account Putin's military and espionage background.
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The full name of Viggo Mortensen's character is Nikolai Luzhin. This is a reference to Vladimir Nabokov's novel "The Luzhin Defense".
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During production, Viggo Mortensen would leave a TV tuned to a Russian channel on in the background of his room, day and night, immersing himself in the language even as he slept.
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Nikolai sports a bicep tattoo of a crow, which is a symbol of Viggo Mortensen's favourite soccer team, San Lorenzo de Almagro. Sometime after filming, Mortensen got this as a real tattoo. It's visible in his sleeveless scenes in Captain Fantastic (2016).
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The film, shot in England, marked the first time director David Cronenberg shot a movie entirely outside of Canada.
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Naomi Watts spent time at the Whittington Hospital for the role as a midwife.
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Even though this movie centers around Russian people, none of the actors who portray (partly) Russian characters are Russian in real life.
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The movie's closing credits dedication reads: "This film is dedicated to the memory of Lisa Parker, 1967-2007".
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Viggo Mortensen secretly added a fake C tattoo to his real-life wrist tattoo - an H drawn by his young son, Henry. He only revealed the Montreal Canadiens joke to David Cronenberg halfway through the production.
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Czech model turned actress Tereza Srbova's first role.
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Donald Sumpter and Josef Altin were in Game of Thrones (2011), although they don't share any scenes together in either movie.
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Five cast and crew personnel worked on both Eastern Promises (2007) and the filmed adaptation of John le Carré's novel, Our Kind of Traitor (2016), the two pictures being made and released around nine years apart, and both featuring story-lines involving the Russian Mafia.
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Tereza Srbova's debut.
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Elisa Lasowski's debut.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the original script, Nikolai revealed himself to Anna as a double agent and Tatiana's baby, Christina was sent to live with her grandmother.
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Armin Mueller-Stahl's character Semyon is based on the real-life Russian mafia boss Semion Mogilevich, born June 30, 1946 in Kiev, now Ukraine. Mogilevich did once own a restaurant just like Semyon in the film.
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Kirill's truck full of black market brandy is disguised as a painter's truck; the tradesman's name on the back is Arthur Clegg. Arthur Clegg was a real London man who was thought to have murdered his newborn granddaughter (and possible daughter-by-incest) by throwing her into the Thames. In the movie, father-by-rape Semyon orders Kirill to murder the newborn by throwing her into the Thames.
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Kiril's name is the key to the story, while also being very ironic: the diary that Tatiana wrote, and ultimately connected Anna to Semyon, is written in the cyrilic alphabet. Cyril, a christian missionary, is credited for christianising the Slavic peoples, together with his brother Methodius, in the 9th century. The alphabet, devised by his pupils, ultimately became the language which led to the rift and downfall of Kiril's father.
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