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A Message From Viggo...

Source: Perceval Press

Estimado Señor Obama,
Por favor, cuando se juegue el amistoso entre Argentina y U.S.A., déjele entrar a su país al técnico Maradona. Si es demasiado complicado, igual se puede jugar el partido en Guantánamo, ¿no?

© Viggo Mortensen. Images © Perceval Press.

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News – 24 Nov 2008

Found By: Chrissiejane

Good: Viggo Mortensen's New Political Drama

© Odd Lot Entertainment, LLC.
Based on the acclaimed play by C.P. Taylor, "Good" also stars Jason Isaacs, Jodie Whittaker, Mark Strong and Gemma Jones. Produced by Miriam Segal, it was directed by noted Brazilian filmmaker Vicente Amorim ("The Middle of the World") and adapted for the screen by John Wrathall. Shot entirely on location in Budapest in 2007, the film boasts and outstanding team of filmmakers that includes BAFTA Award-winning director of photography Andrew Dunn, production designer Andrew Laws, and costume designer Gyorgy Szakacs.

Producer Miriam Segal had been determined to bring Taylor's play to the screen ever since she saw it as a student in the 1980s. Named among the 100 Best Plays of the Century by the National Review, Good premiered in London at the Donmar Warehouse in September of 1981.

Indeed, despite all the praise, Taylor's play resisted easy screen adaptation. Born in Glasgow in 1929, Taylor became one of the leading figures of London's socially conscious artistic movement of the 60s and 70s. Good was the last of some 70 plays he produced but, tragically, Taylor died at the age of 52, just a week after the Donmar Warehouse debut. Time Magazine suggested the ambitions of the play, both thematically and stylistically, when it noted that, "history is a nightmare into which the antihero of Good sleepwalks." Taylor himself made no bones about the seriousness of his work; "My principal themes," he said "are the conflicts between man's ideals and his limitations."

As Segal recalls, "I was simply overwhelmed by the play, and knew immediately I would do whatever was necessary to produce the film adaptation. She ultimately secured the rights, but not until 2003, some twenty-plus years after its premiere. She then had to shepherd the project through various incarnations over the past several years until the right people and elements finally came together in 2007. "I felt an enormous sense of responsibility," Segal confesses, "which enabled me to persevere to this point."

Segal's former classmate, actor Jason Isaacs, shared her vision and passion for "Good," remaining verbally committed to the project over the years. His own reasons for helping the film get made were due to the play's subject matter. "One gets more perspective," he says, "looking at modern times through the prism of history, such as The Crucible making a statement about McCarthyism." Isaacs supported Segal throughout the project's many ups and downs, and even signed on to be one of the film's executive producers.
Image Larry Horricks.
© Good Films.
How Viggo Mortensen Made It Happen

But it was Viggo Mortensen's attachment to GOOD that finally gave the project some momentum. Oscar-nominated for his brilliant portrayal of a Russian mobster in David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, Mortensen also drew raves for his starring role a year earlier in A History of Violence. Suddenly at the top of his game, Mortensen sparked to the role of John Halder, even though this bookish, cerebral intellectual couldn't have been further from the laconic men-of-action he has so recently been playing.

Interestingly, Viggo, too, had a special connection to Taylor's play; "I was starting out in acting 25 years ago, and was in London on what was only my second audition," he recalls. "I didn't get the part, but while I was there I saw a play Good with Alan Howard, and it made a strong impression. When the opportunity to play the role on film came along, I thought it an interesting way to make a circle out of the experience some quarter century later."

Despite his affection for the play, it was John Wrathall's screenplay that Mortensen responded to, noting that "it's a very strong script, well-written and structured, and grounded much more in the lives of ordinary people than the surrounding events." This is high praise indeed, considering that Taylor's play is such a complex mixture of dramatic devices and differing tones, and was quite difficult to adapt from stage to screen. "I saw the original production in London," recalls Wrathall, and I remember it being a very theatrical show, employing the full resources of the stage. Cast members would burst into song at any given moment, and the time frame jumped around."

Another key narrative strategy used in the stage production called for John Halder to speak directly to the audience. In adapting to film'a photographic medium that is intrinsically more realistic (or less artificial) than the theater--Wrathall had to wrestle with Taylor's many formal conceits, extracting the story, yet leaving enough room for the sort of stylistic ornamentation that would bring the audience inside John Halder's head.

"The challenge was to dramatize what's going on internally without having him actually turn to us and explain himself," says Wrathall. Maintaining the musical interludes and the non-linear structure of the play were mandatory for the screen adaptation since, as Segal notes, "we don't live our lives in nice linear section."
Image Larry Horricks.
© Good Films.
Otherwise, she gave Wrathall license to start with a fresh perspective on the material and to avoid treating the play with too much reverence. Segal says, "John was protective of the play, but did what is always necessary for a writer to do to his source material, which is to attack it where needed." With this in mind, Wrathall added elements of a thriller, and maintained the Britishness of the characters, as in the original play, in order to underline Taylor's premise that the story is not just about Germans, but about anyone. And everyone.

Though far more grounded and realistic than the stage play, "Good" still employs various elements of stylization. After all, John Halder's story is still primarily a metaphor for the larger moral journey of the German people. As such, the film has a very deliberate structure, much like a classic morality play in which every scene takes the protagonist one-step further in his ethical evolution. Vicente Amorim acknowledges that, in making GOOD, he was influenced by both Bernardo Bertolucci's, The Conformist, and Istvan Szabo's Oscar-winning Mephisto. Like those two earlier works, his is also a film about a man so intent upon succeeding in a corrupt society, that he himself is corrupted. And, as in those films, Amorim heightens the visual elements, sets, costumes, and lighting to emphasize that what we are watching is symbolic, a sweeping parable about conscience and consequences. As he puts it, GOOD is a private and particular look at one man's life through which we tell a universal story.

Amorim and his design team worked hard to give "Good" the requisite look, one that was both accurate and expressive. As cinematographer Andrew Dunn points out, "I've translated plays to the screen before, and realize the process can be quite tricky. The creative challenge was to broaden the space while always remaining inside Halder's head. In order to avoid the clich'd, sepia-toned quality of most period pieces, the filmmakers decided to do away with the customary clutter. "We're not trying to make audiences feel they're being transported back in time," Amorim explains. "The story we're telling could happen even now, so exaggerated period references would only hide relevance. Besides, Germany in the early '30s was incredibly modern."

Producer Segal agrees: "Everything we're using is of the period, but employed in such a way as to make it appear contemporary. Clothing, lighting, colors,all of it." Production designer Andrew Laws summarizes this streamlined approach to historical recreation when he says, "Throughout the movie, we shift attention from larger events to illustrate what the average person is doing or how he is reacting. We're trying to show what's happening next to the parade, not the parade itself."

"We're trying to put aside assumptions of the period. The post-Weimar world ushered in a new wave of modernity and hope, so we cheat with antiquity a bit. For example, you'll see no hats and we're very careful about cars being shown. Likewise, costume designer Gyorgyi Szakacs (who has worked with Istvan Szabo, most notably on "Sunshine"), observes that the wardrobes are accurate to the period, but highlight certain styles that are most similar to today."
Image Larry Horricks.
© Good Films.
The combined effect of this visual approach is that it allows Amorim to avoid the quaint nostalgia that comes with seeing beautifully preserved artifacts, images, and props from the past. After all, nostalgia for the Nazi era is the exact opposite of what the filmmakers wish to evoke.

Amorim drew his inspiration from his forebears: as in The Conformist, which made brilliant use of Fascist-era Brutalist architecture to convey the dichotomy between the protagonist's lofty ambitions and his lowly stature, GOOD uses Hitler's affection for neoclassical temples to underline the split personality of the entire society, a society in which all those clean, white marble and limestone surfaces are meant to hide a nation's debased, besmirched soul.

Amorim is the first to admit that "Good" is "a story with a message." However, he hastens to point out that it is "more about the people delivering those messages, people who are intrigued, and flawed, and charming, whom we can all relate to, and who come to know that everything we do in life has consequences." When principal photography was completed on GOOD, it marked the end of a journey that Miriam Segal, Jason Isaacs, and Viggo Mortensen began 25 years earlier, when they all were separately overcome by the story of a good man whose life takes a tragic turn--not from willful intent, or evil malfeasance, but by getting too absorbed in his unexpected good fortune to realize that it was actually bad fortune.

As Segal says: "C.P. Taylor wanted to find a metaphor for conscience, and illustrate the idea that we live our lives without exploring or acknowledging peripheral vision. We are driven by individual need. And, what can easily happen, as we see in Good, is that if we separate ourselves from the behavior of others, we create a society without heart or compassion, in which terrible things can manifest. In John Halder's case, it begins with a seemingly simple request from a Nazi official: 'Do you think you can write us a paper?'"

© Odd Lot International/2004-2008 Emanuel Levy. Images © Odd Lot International.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

"The Award to the Actor with Unique Visual Sensitivity is a special award from cinematographers to an actor whose attitude and work greatly contributes to the visual side of a film. This year, the award will be granted to Viggo Mortensen who will collect it during the upcoming edition of the Festival."

The Lodz Film Festival and cinematographers are really to be commended for recognising one of the things that make Viggo so special. This is as an unique an award as Viggo is a unique actor and ever since reading that he'd been chosen to receive it I've been mulling over what 'attitude and work' greatly contributing to 'the visual side of a film' really means. We know the camera loves him and picks up nuances of expression and body language that many other actors only dream about, we know he inhabits his characters so physically you can hardly recognise him, we know he fusses over details until everything looks authentic and 'right', we know he looks mesmerising on screen. But isn't this also about the many other visual contributions he makes which sensitive directors treasure? Or is it, perhaps, a combination of all of these things? Here are a few results of my mulling on the many aspects of Viggo's visual contributions which show that 'unique' isn't an overstatement....

...Mortensen says he tried 'to give a very detailed performance.' You see it most in his placid poise behind the diner's counter, during the still seconds before he lashes out. 'A lot of people don't trust those details to come through, but I've always believed that the camera and the audience can see a lot more than a lot of directors-and even actors-give them credit for.'

Talking about creating Tom Stall in A History of Violence
New Yorkers of the Year
New York Magazine
19 Dec 2005

In a world of paste reproductions Viggo Mortensen is a rare gem of creative energy. His work as an actor goes far beyond the normal level of effort exerted by a conventional leading man which results in his performances being elevated into works of art as unique as his poems and pictures.

Viggo Mortensen: An Artist For All Seasons
BNN Blogger News Network
May 6th, 2005

Viggo Mortensen has one of the most incredible faces in the world, striking and amazingly versatile. His rough-hewn, chiselled visage allows him to inhabit any character he wants to, regardless of background or ethnicity, and we buy into it unconditionally. Through physical appearance alone, Mortensen can be both "Lord of the Rings'" rugged warrior and noble king and "Hidalgo's" half-Lakota cowboy. He was even entirely convincing as an everyman with a shady past in "A History of Violence.".....what Mortensen accomplishes in the role of Nikolai Luzhin, the driver of a Russian mob family, goes beyond simply good acting -- it's a complete transformation. With his flawless Russian accent, tattoo-covered body and a face so sharp it looks like it could cut diamonds, he becomes nearly unrecognizable, even without the use of prosthetics or heavy makeup.

Andrew Smith
Charleston Gazette
29 Sept 2007

"It was very important to me to make everything as believable as possible. That's why, even when I was exhausted, I always fought with the [heavy] steel sword rather than the lighter one," he explains. "I wanted to make sure the fight scenes were realistic. I shouldn't be able to just throw my sword around like Errol Flynn did, especially when I'm really tired. It should be hard to fight with it! Even when I was just walking around, I'd still wear the steel sword because it was heavier and it affected the way I moved."

Viggo Mortensen on Lord of the Rings
Viggo Mortensen
by Desmond Sampson
Pavement #62, 2003

"I pretty much got to do [all the riding]," Mortensen says. "That's because I worked hard with the trainer, with Rex Peterson and with the stunt guy Mike Watson and with all the horses and because I rode as a kid, so I was comfortable, so they felt it was a worthwhile risk. I'm sure the producers sometimes were sweating it but sometimes you do take some chances in order to get something that you can't really buy otherwise, digitally or otherwise, especially with a movie like this which isn't a special-effects driven movie, you can follow me in one shot without cutting. You can be close on me and see what I'm doing. "

Viggo Mortensen
IGN gets the behind-the-action goods from the director, writer and star of Hidalgo.
By Jeff Otto, IGN
March 04, 2004

... while the story is compelling, and the scenes lush, none of that compares to the performance given by Mortensen. He is, simply, Hitch. There is not one moment that seems like acting, or where he seems like anything other than his character. Mortensen's performance is flawless - so real that the film seems more like a look into the past, rather than a fictional slice of entertainment. You can see his power, his strength, and his intelligence as easy as you can see the all-prevalent dusty wind.

Appaloosa Review
Monika Bartyzel
8 September 2008
Early Films

"You would think, 'Of course Cronenberg was drawn in by the tattooing,' but it was almost not there," says the director. "In the original script, tattooing was just alluded to. Viggo discovered a set of books called Russian Criminal Tattoo and a doc called Mark of Cain, which was about the tattooing subculture in Russian prisons, and when I saw them my mind was blown completely."

Talking about Eastern Promises
Ties that bind
by Melora Koepke, Hour CA
13 Sept 2007

"It would be silly if the whole movie seemed realistic and gritty and all of a sudden this scene is you're clearly trying to avoid seeing someone's body entirely or something like that. It would just be dumb. So there was never any doubt about it. It wasn't like we got there on the day and it was like, 'Let's do it this way.' No, I knew going in what I was getting into."

Viggo Mortensen on the nude fight scene, Eastern Promises
Viggo Mortensen Interview
By Jordan Riefe, Underground Online
11 Sept 2007

I went to the Prado Museum, which I had visited many times, but now I saw the paintings in a different light, searching for the character, so I'd call Tano (the director) at 2 am and tell him, "listen, I found this painting by Góngora". Viggo makes a face and changes his voice to imitate Díaz Yanes: 'Okay, let me explain it to you. You're an idiot.' But nothing. I saw the characters in those painting."

Viggo Mortensen talking about Alatriste
The Lord of Simplicity
By Ernesto Garratt Vines - translated by Margarita
Wikén - El Mercurio

Because of his role Mortensen had to face an interesting phenomenon: Would David Shaw's images reflect the artistic feelings of himself, Viggo Mortensen or do they belong to the character of David Shaw? "I think both are right", answered Mortensen, "I didn't have time to occupy myself too much with this duality. I think that the artwork represents on the one hand my own subconsiousness and on the other hand my ideas on who David is."

A Perfect Murder
Warner Brothers German Press Release

            © Images © Touchstone/BuenaVista Pictures/Focus Features/New Line/Estudios Piccaso/Origen Producciones.

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            Videos from Rome

            Found By: Cindalea and sidhex3
            Categories: Movie Promotions
            'Good' Premiere: Rome 10-26-08
            'Good' Premiere: Rome 10-26-08.
            © Cindalea. Used by permission.
            Many, many thanks to Cindalea for these great videos from Rome and to sidhex3 for permanently housing them so that we can all download.

            DO NOT HOTLINK


            Good red carpet interview, small (17.3MB, flv), large (30.2MB, wmv)
            Good - before the screening (15.5MB, flv)
            Good - after the screening (6.84MB, flv)

            Appaloosa - before the screening (8.95MB, flv)
            Appaloosa - after the screening (9.96MB, flv)

            Images © Cindalea. Used by permission.

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            Stars in a Classical Western

            Source: Europa Press.
            Found By: RebekahC
            Many thanks to RebekahC for finding and to Graciela for translating the article that appeared in Europa Press:

            "They don't let me act like a clown in movies"

            © EP.
            Europa Press
            21 November 2008

            "Those who know me can tell you that I can be a bit of a clown, and in movies they don't let me do that," the actor commented; with him was Ariadna Gil, his "girl" in Appaloosa, which opens today in Spain.

            The movie, based on Robert B. Parker's novel, takes place in New Mexico in 1882. Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are in charge of restoring order to the mining town of Appaloosa, which had been changed by the powerful and intelligent farmer Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). To make matters worse, the intriguing widow Allison French crosses their path, and she will not stop until she ends up with the most powerful man in town.

            "Violence has terrible consequences," admitted Mortensen, who accepted this role because of the intelligent dialogue, the great cast, the sense of humor and the type of communication established between his character and Ed Harris'. "I like good movies; I wouldn't have accepted this role just to work in a western. If I am going sign up for a part in a movie, there has to be a good story, and this one is good," he pointed out.

            Mortensen, with his Argentine accent, said that on Wednesday he went to see the movie I Just Want To Walk, directed by Díaz Yanes, starring Ariadna Gil. He said the actress was "awesome", and everybody laughed, so Ariadna Gil asked him to tone down the expression because in Spain it meant something else. So the actor responded: "Congratulations on your job, and you are awesome."

            A small role for Ariadna Gil

            Ariadna Gil, who plays the role of a Hispanic woman that captivates Viggo Mortensen's character, admitted that although her role was "very small", she was "terrified" about the responsibility of working for Ed Harris. She said that afterwards she relaxed and thought it was great to have the opportunity to work in a western in which the two male protagonists talk about real and trivial stuff like the fabric they will choose for their curtains.

            Ariadna also pointed out that the women's roles are different in this western, in which guns compete with loyalty and love, and in which the ending is not the one most people expect.

            "Sometimes, in life and in movies, things don't turn out the way you expect them, and that is not always bad," pointed out the actor, who has two more movies coming up soon: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which Mortensen hopes will open in Spring, and Good, in which he plays a professor that publishes a book about euthanasia during the times of the Nazi in Germany. Good will open in the US on December 31, according to what the actor told Europa Press.

            In that sense, Viggo Mortensen admits that he has been lucky with the movies he has worked in lately and he said that he would love to work with Agustín Diaz Yanes and in Spain again, where "I feel at home."

            The actor also admitted that he would love to be part of The Hobbit, based on Tolkien's book. "If they ask me to do it, I would love to," he said. "My character is not in the book, but if they make two movies, which is their plan, maybe they can put my character in the movie that links The Hobbit with Lord Of The Rings; if they do it, I'd rather play the character myself than have another actor do it."

            Passionate about soccer - he is a San Lorenzo fan; he sported and gave away stickers to some journalists, - photography, poetry, literature and painting. Mortensen announced that he will soon publish Songs Of Winter in Spanish and that by defining his art as "abstract", "I can do whatever I want," he joked.

            "Patience" with Obama

            Mortensen also asked for patience with the new president of the U.S., Barack Obama, who faces a "pretty complicated challenge" thanks to "Bush and Cheney's lack of responsibility" and he said that even if he had two terms it would be difficult for Obama to "fix everything that was damaged."

            "He will do a better job, but the expectations are high and the economic situation is a mess." He also said that Obama "is not a perfect man" and that he will have to accept several deals with his opponents. "But we have to be patient," he warned.

            However, he highlighted the need for change in U.S. policies, especially foreign policy. "I hope that as from now, the U.S. will change its imperialist attitude," he concluded.

            © Europa Press. Images © EP.

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            Last edited: 14 December 2014 07:56:20