Radio Interview from February

Viggo News

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The video clip from set of "TODOS TENEMOS UN PLAN"

Source: Scanpix/Reiters.
Found By: Eriko

Our thanks to Eriko for the find.

© Scanpix/Reuters.
"Lord of the Rings" star Viggo Mortensen returns to his childhood in Argentina for shooting of his latest film, "Everyone Has a Plan." SHOWS: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (JULY 21, 2011) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR VIGGO MORTENSEN, SAYING: "Well I knew it was going to be a challenge to play twin brothers but an interesting one. And sometimes I think we all present ourselves anew each morning depending on who we run into and what the situation is and how we feel. We present a different character in a way; people just do that naturally. You behave differently with your mother than with your best friend or someone you don't get along with or a policeman, you know what I mean. So you are always, to some degree, acting. You're always presenting what you want people to see and in this case it has been interesting because I replace my brother, I try to pass as him. And because we look so much alike I thought it would be a lot easier - me as an actor and also I think the character thinks it is going to be easier than it really is."

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR JAVIER GODINO, SAYING: "[Viggo]'s living here. He's living in Tigre; he's living in a hotel here, very near here. He's walking; he dresses like someone from here. So, I think, that's the thing that I admire and I love. And I've seen his work before. I've seen the Lord of the Rings and The Road. I think he's an actor that connects with the character. And he's a little crazy. I think he's crazy enough to play these difficult characters that he must play."

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MORTENSEN, SAYING: "I have to say that this particular-- I mean I've been on lots of shoots, 40 something movies, butâä¦ I mean it's been a hard shoot. There's been days that have been difficult for everybody. I've never felt more comfortable, I think, even though Lord of the Rings was years working together, so of course there was a bond that was created, very quickly I had the same feeling here. In part because we're outside, its hard and its winter - sometimes we've been shooting at night and it's been below zero [degrees Celsius / 32 degrees Fahrenheit] it's tough and it kinda brings people together. You know, everybody bitches about it, but in the end you end up sharing a lot of good times as well - getting through it together. And also because I was raised here. There are a lot of memories just as we are shooting, all the time I look around, just the way people speak."

PITERBARG ON SET STORY: On the tree-lined banks of the Tigre river basin outside Buenos Aires, Viggo Mortensen is wrapping up shooting on Thursday (July 21) in his first-ever Argentine film. No stranger to filming out in the woods, the actor known best as Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" series is playing twin brothers in his new film, "Everybody Has a Plan" ("Todos Tenemos un Plan"). It tells the story of a middle-aged man who, desperate for a new start, impersonates his late twin brother only to discover that his sibling was part of a criminal gang. Mortensen, who has let a scruffy, salt-and-pepper beard grow for the film, says it is similar to his work in David Cronenberg's Oscar-nominated "A History of Violence" as well as "Eastern Promises." "Well I knew it was going to be a challenge to play twin brothers but an interesting one. And sometimes I think we all present ourselves anew each morning depending on who we run into and what the situation is and how we feel. We present a different character in a way; people just do that naturally. You behave differently with your mother than with your best friend or someone you don't get along with or a policeman, you know what I mean. So you are always, to some degree, acting. You're always presenting what you want people to see and in this case it has been interesting because I replace my brother, I try to pass as him. And because we look so much alike I thought it would be a lot easier - me as an actor and also I think the character thinks it is going to be easier than it really is," actor Viggo Mortensen told Reuters. Working alongside Mortensen is Spanish actor Javier Godino, from the Oscar-winning "The Secret in Their Eyes" ("El Secreto de sus Ojos").

© Scanpix/Reuters.

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Viggo Mortensen at home in first Argentine film

© Thomson Reuters Corp.
By Luis Andres Henao

TIGRE, Argentina (Reuters) - Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen, best known as Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" films, says he never felt as comfortable as he does now while shooting his first Argentine film in the country where he was raised.

The Danish-American actor lived until age 11 in Argentina, where he learned fluent Spanish and developed a fanatical devotion to the San Lorenzo soccer club. He returns often to the South American country, where he says he feels at home.

"I've been in lots of shoots, more than 40 movies, but I've never felt this comfortable," Mortensen told Reuters on the set of his new film, "Todos Tenemos un Plan" ("Everybody has a Plan").

"In 'Lord of the Rings' we were working together for years so there was a bond created. But very quickly I've had the same feeling here," he said, adding this was partly because the crew had to shoot for two months outdoors during the inclement Southern Hemisphere winter, which brought people together.

"But also because I was raised here. There are a lot of memories. I look around and the way people speak, talking to the crew each day, it's as if I were with my people," said Mortensen, who let a scruffy, salt-and-pepper beard grow for the film.

"Everybody has a Plan" tells the story of a middle-aged man who returns to the wooded islands along Argentina's Tigre river delta after a long absence. Desperate for a new start, he impersonates his late twin brother, only to discover that his sibling was part of a criminal gang.


Mortensen compared his latest work to other films about criminal underworlds including David Cronenberg's Oscar-nominated "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises," which earned him a best actor Oscar nomination.

Mortensen, who also paints, writes and co-owns publisher Perceval Press, is modest about his celebrity and well-known for his method-acting and zealous preparation for roles.

For "Lord of the Rings," he slept in Aragorn's cloak. For "Eastern Promises," where he plays a man with links to the Russian mob, he lived in St. Petersburg and the Urals to pick up a convincing Russian-accented English and gangster jargon.

In "Todos Tenemos un Plan," directed by Argentine newcomer Ana Piterbarg, Mortensen stars alongside Soledad Villamil and Javier Godino, best known for their roles in the crime drama "The Secret in Their Eyes," which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film last year.

"He's very deep in his way of preparing the character," Godino said, referring to Mortensen. "He's living in Tigre, he dresses like somebody from there and I admire this. He's an actor that connects with the character and he's a little crazy, crazy enough to play these characters that he plays."

Mortensen said his latest project has a small budget on a global scale but a big one for Argentina and huge potential for a country where he now hopes to return frequently for work.

"I had always wanted to shoot a film in Argentina," he said. "It's been a wonderful experience -- a real see the boats, the dogs, the Argentine winter, is beautiful."

(Reporting by Luis Andres Henao; Additional reporting by Kylie Stott)

© Thomson Reuters Corp. Images © Thomson Reuters Corp.

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Viggo the San Lorenzo Columnist

Categories: Soccer

Many thanks to Ollie and Rio, with assistance from Zoe (and additional, invaluable help from Silver and Dom) for translating Viggo's recent column at the San Lorenzo website:


A Love Letter

Viggo and a talk you cannot miss with writer Fabián Casas.


Hello, Fabián. Thanks for joining me in this conversation. Like so many who follow Argentinian soccer, I´ve been thinking these last few days about the intense feelings and the state of deep mourning that some supporters experience when they have to bear their club dropping down. As it happened to our dear San Lorenzo in 1982, it´s now the turn for Quilmes, Huracán, River Plate and Gimnasia y Esgrima. Being one of the five "Greats", and the third to drop [tr. note: demoted to a lower division] (along with Racing and San Lorenzo), the fall of River stood out in the media last week. The lies and manipulation of the media, despising and at the same time taking advantage of the supporters' pain, also stood out in the media, as usual. Yesterday I read a poem by Cortázar that I hadn´t looked at for years. Suddenly, it seemed to me a part of the poem was touching the feelings of the suffering supporter and pointing at the cynicism in the media.

Deep down all I would like from you
it's so little
because deep down it's everything

all that is so little,
I want it from you because I love you

That you should look beyond me,
that you should love me with violent disregard
for tomorrow, that the shout
of your deliverance should clash
on the face of an office boss,

and the pleasure we both invented
be another sign of freedom.

Considering what happened to Huracán in this last tournament, it seemed very unfair to me that River should have permission to play in front of an audience after the disturbances caused by the Gallinas [tr. note: River Plate supporters] who invaded the pitch to curse their players in the return game. I immediately thought of el Globo [tr. note: the nickname for Huracán], and the three games they had to play without an audience after the riot some of their supporters caused during the match with Estudiantes. Although the Quemeros [tr. note: Huracán's supporters are called "los Quemeros" ("the Burners") because the stadium is located in a former garbage burning area] didn't invade the pitch, they certainly caused damage to their stadium and attacked visiting supporters. In contrast, River was allowed to play in a packed Monumental Stadium for the second leg of their playoff against Belgrano, and on top of that, with some 14,000 spectators more than the stadium was authorized to hold. Some Gallinas - the barra bravas [tr. note: organized soccer hooligan groups] and the club officials who provided the admission tickets, I suppose - must have made a pretty penny from those illegal admissions. Well, just like always. Out-of-control passion hand in hand with unleashed corruption. Did you see the game? Watching it with an unprejudiced eye, it looked to me like Belgrano played a ballsy game in a complicated environment.

You suffered through San Lorenzo's relegation, and for your old man, a diehard cuervo, it was really hard, wasn't it? I still hadn't returned to Argentina then, but I know the story of our fall and the immediate, glorious return to the top in 1982. La Chancha Rinaldi was an important player for that heroic team. You've told me a little about him.


Dear Viggo: Yes, I saw the match between River and Belgrano at a cuervo friend´s home. Now, reading your e-mail, Cortázar´s poem, what you say about club officials and barras, brings to mind many things I´ve been thinking about these days when it seems that our country entered ass backwards in that unreal thing sports journalists call "River World", a term they also use to explain the internal rules of "Boca World". It seems that these two mainstream clubs, because of the quantity of members, nominations or whatever, managed to be designated as a world of its own. But the truth is that each person is an unfathomable world, that each brain potentially carries the infinity of the universe. What does my mind carry when I remember our drop? It was thirty years ago, I was a bit distant from soccer but I remember my old man arriving from the field devastated, the way he put on pajamas that made him look like a beggar and the way he sat on the double bed, staring at a fixed point in space. We (my two younger brothers and I) were peeking at him, through the half-closed door, from outside their room. My old lady was telling us to keep an eye on him, maybe thinking he could do something crazy. But no... he remained there thinking, like a flesh statue... maybe he was thinking about afternoons spent in the Viejo Gasómetro, titles, players. All that mental and spiritual archive that he repeated to me time and again after dinner or climbing the stands in different fields to see CASLA together, one more time. I'll confess something to you: when I saw how Huracán was going to the B [division] because of the major defeat that Independiente inflicted on them, when I saw the scenes where [Independiente coach] El Turco Mohamed put his head in his hands on the bench, my eyes filled with tears. I have a great deal of respect for the opponent. I wanted Cappa's Huracán to take the championship and never, not from any point of view, for El Globo to go down to the B [division]. What for? It seems to me that in our country we don't have a positive cult of the Adversary, something that even the Catholic Church has with the devil. Without the Adversary, we're nothing. That same adversity is what strengthens us. Comfort weakens you as well. I think about the soldiers who fought in the Great War, they were already familiar with ice, and they missed it when they were given warm water. On the other hand, those who fought before it was invented didn't suffer from that. I was born at the corner of Boedo and Estados Unidos, in a very big and humble house without central heating or hot water. And I cannot remember a happier time in my life. I think that something about not being able to tolerate adversity is happening to River. Something encouraged in the media by sports journalists who have filled their heads with serious words like shame, tragedy, terror, sickness to describe their latest games. A journalist, known for having his wages increased by an envelope given by Aguilar, came out saying that "one is prepared for his parents' death but not for that of a child or the drop of River." Incredible. I don´t know if that idiot celebrated Father´s Day. As for what you ask me about Rinaldi, I think that La Chancha was the greatest player I´ve seen in my life. Because of his way of placing himself on the pitch - very aggressive - and his energy, when you saw him playing, you felt like playing, too. Just like when you read Roberto Bolaño and instantly you want to write something, anything. Have you read Bolaño?. Well V, a big cuervo hug.


I think that the Huracán directed by Cappa in 2009 was the Argentinian [team] that in the recent years most resembled Guardiola´s Barcelona. They played beautiful soccer and should have been the Torneo Clausura champion that year. Vélez was favoured by disgraceful refereeing in the decisive match against Huracán. Of course Vélez players are not to blame for that, but the best team didn´t win the match or the tournament that day. That´s how things are in life sometimes. Creative excellence doesn´t always win. As Heidegger wrote,"What´s left as a task is seeing the enigma". It can sound strange that being Cuervos we talk so much and in such favourable terms about Huracán. As you say, we have to respect the adversary. When playing well, it deserves to be recognized.

I absolutely agree - Roberto Bolaño is great. He once said, "My homeland is my son and my library." During the last shooting stages of the three films which make up The Lord of the Rings, I had a lot of fun reading another trilogy, Los detectives salvajes (The Wild Detectives) by Bolaño. Amazing.

Nano Areán is gone. I don´t know if your daddy or you ever met him. I had the honour of greeting him in Bajo Flores some years ago. He seemed to me a complete gentleman. I remember him very well as a key part of Los Carasucias. In the mid-sixties I was starting to seriously follow San Lorenzo. Areán was playing in the eye of the storm, setting up things like a "9" with La Oveja Telch who was pushing from behind, for the talented players with insatiable attack who had come up with them from the CASLA junior teams: El Bambino Veira, El Loco Doval and El Manco Casa. They, among others, established the foundation of what came to be the Matadores cool style, the great undefeated champions of 1968. Those who came after Areán and his teammates, outstanding players like El Sapo Villar, El Lobo Fischer, Batman Buticce, El Toscano Rendo, Tojo, Albrecht, Veglio, Cocco, Calics, González, Rosl - knew how to take advantage of the initial work by the Carasucias. Under the steady hand of Elba de Pádua Lima (Tim) the Matadores´ technical manager (and previously a great player in Flamengo and the Brazilian National Team), they fine-tuned the gutsy and attractive way of playing by their predecessors in the Gasómetro. They say that El Nano was more plain and "serious" than his attacking mates, especially Doval and Veira, but they were great friends and together they made a fearsome forward.

A warm greeting to Fernando Areán, his family and to his numerous admirers. A Cuervo who was the greatest on and off the field has gone.

Another great thing that Bolaño said was: "Humour and curiosity are the purest form of intelligence." This brings to mind what you told me lately about your experience with Kara-Te. The idea of going out every day with an open mind, wanting to learn, paying attention, eliminating as much as possible the limitations from the past that we invent all the time. The past that doesn´t exist but, paradoxically, sometimes threatens to paralyze and swallow us alive like a great viper. The past that we adore but must respectfully leave along the way. Forward, Forward! What´s happening RIGHT NOW ? Do we play or not?. The game is everything, the game, the game... I think that the Carasucias, the Matadores, Los Ángeles de Cappa, Guardiola´s Barça - every consistently efficient team - has something of the joy of the continuous discovery, the desire to simply play soccer. In a recent interview, Cappa said that in Argentina they play so badly, in spite of the great talent available, that in the next tournament they should play all the matches without a ball. An excellent idea. This really would be a "jogo bonito" [tr. note: In the original Brazilian: "a beautiful game"]


Dear Viggo: a day of intense cold yesterday. This is what happened to me: every Sunday, we have lunch with my brothers and my old man. At his home, mine or that of my brothers. I, my brother the Dragón (a genius, Boedo´s chef Guevara) or all of us cook. Sometimes friends come, like Gustavo López when he is here. Yesterday I had to to go to my old man´s house to pick him up and, later, go to Dragón´s place. I phoned him to wake him up. My old man usually goes to dance tango around Boedo and sleeps until late. He wasn´t answering the phone and - since he´s 84 years old - I began to worry. He answered at last. I told him I´d pick him up in an hour. He told me to call him before starting out, so he would be ready (to my old man, ready means wearing a suit, hat, two handkerchiefs, chewing-gum and hearing aids in stereo). I started calling him before going out and, again, he wasn´t answering. I tried a thousand times. I called my brother and told him dad wasn´t answering and he suggested I should go with the car to see what happened. He suggested that maybe he had fallen sleep again. I took the car, crossed the 40 blocks that separate my home from that of my old man (I don´t know why I was thinking the worst), and when I opened the door to the house, he was impeccable, sitting reading the paper and waiting for me. I was so overjoyed that I hugged him and told him I had been really scared. My old man gave me honey caramels and we left for my brother´s. I cannot explain why the anguish lasted me all day, although my old man was there, whole, eating and chatting. I thought: I´m standing in a geographical place where I can see the sun coming out (Ana, my ten month old daughter) and the sunset (my old man at 84 ). In the evening, playing on the rug with my daughter and with Rita, my dog, I hear on the television that was on behind us that Nano Areán had died. I thought about the Carasucias, about the Matadores, about how my old man told me about them, of their incredible way of playing that I never saw but about which I have memories implanted by my old man. About the thick sideburns worn by Telch, Fisher, Cocco, Areán, Doval, Bambino... similar to those of the Beatles when they are playing on a London roof top in Let It Be, in a day of intense cold like yesterday in Buenos Aires. I´ve got - you´ve seen it - a poster from El Gráfico framed, with the players from the Matadores celebrating a goal in 1968, the day they became champions. It´s like Picasso´s Guernica, by the way they have thrown themselves on the ground, hugging; Cocco kneeling and with his hands in the air, Lobo Fisher, buried under the others. A Guernica of joy, of celebrating being young for only one time on earth... The Carasucias, the Matadores... something that has never been seen again.


Yes! The Matadores is an extraordinary photograph. I like your house very much, and I always have a good time there, but I think that photograph in your dining room is the detail I like the most!

Yesterday I had to work in the Delta from five in the afternoon on, and, unfortunately I couldn´t go to the rally for the return to Boedo. Wanting to be with the supporters at the Obelisco and the rally, I put on, under the character´s clothes, the San Lorenzo jersey that our great centre forward Jonathan Botinelli had given me, and hung all the banners, flags and scarves I´ve got in the woods by the stream where we shot all night long. That way I wasn´t so cold! When I woke up, I saw the images from the rally and read that 40 thousand cuervos and cuervas had attended to support the return to Boedo. A tremendous success! I hope that Macri, Filmus , and above all the president realize we have the right and we are not going to give up 'til the historical repatriation takes place. I feel proud to be a Cuervo. There are no supporters with more passion than ours.

Thanks for the chat, brother Cuervo. If you like, we can talk a bit more some other time. - A kiss - v.

[tr. note: "a kiss" or "a hug" is the Spanish equivalent of the English "love" at the end of a letter or e-mail]

Hold on Ciclón!

© Viggo Mortensen/Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Categories: Movies Quotable Viggo

While we eagerly anticipate three new Viggo films, I've been reviewing the quotes I've gathered from Viggo's early acting days and pre The Lord of the Rings movies (isn't everything pre and post LOTR?). I found that I have a whole bunch of new ones that have surfaced in later interviews, some that come from re-discovered lost reviews, and some oldies that I've never yet used in a Quotable. And there are a couple (the first and last ones) that I just liked so much I just had to include them again. What emerges is an actor who has always had the essentials that make him so fascinating to watch and work with.

'The "Blood Red" auditions at the Actors Studio were notable for one other reason: Viggo Mortensen came by every day--barefoot, with long, dirty blond hair--wanting to audition in the worst way for one of my Italian immigrants. His dirty feet and hair scared me just as much as his blue-eyed blondness wasn't right for the cast I was building. After days of just being rude to him, I finally threw him out of the studio and told him never to darken my casting door again. I have since apologized to him for my lack of artistic vision and behavior. It's the one truly bad casting mistake I ever made. He's such a talented actor; he could have played Italian or anything else he made up his mind to do. I often use him as an example of how one-pointed, dedicated, and willing to be rejected an actor has to be.'

Pamela Guess
July 2010

'Viggo had already been in Witness and one or two other things. He was definitely somebody that people were keeping an eye on and what have you. He was this striking looking guy and he really was a good guy and still is. He's just a very nice person. But boy he really brought up the smoldering intensity right away. That was terrific.'

Screenwriter Courtney Joyner talking about 'Prison'
Late night classics - Prison
Jason Bene
2 June 2010

'Sean had decided that Viggo and I were going to rehearse for two weeks, but we were only going to rehearse our big scene in the bar. So he had a bar set up in a gymnasium where we could shoot baskets but also really do our work. And during those two weeks, I have a feeling it was harder for Viggo, because Sean identified more with the role of Frank, and he would really try to push him to do certain things. But Viggo just kept holding back. He never really did the scene in those two weeks.... I think Sean was still a little nervous going into the bar scene. Then I remember a real struggle for what was going to happen, what the moments were going to be between the two of them. And something happened, it crystallized, and suddenly Viggo was on fire.'

David Morse talking about 'The Indian Runner'
When Viggo Met Sean
7 Sept 2007
Excerpted from Sean Penn: His Life and Times by Richard T. Kelly (UK: Faber and Faber, US: Canongate US, 2004)

'He sent me the script and I was instantly hooked. At the start, I preferred the character which was finally played by David Morse. Mine was just described as "the baddy'. But I said to myself that, behind the slightly too obvious behaviour of Frank Roberts, there had to be a really complex reason. The filming was extremely interesting ... The more so because Sean was very involved.'

Viggo talking about 'The Indian Runner'
Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
by Juliette Michaud
Studio Magazine
December 2002

I'd recommend this movie to anyone interested in seeing a younger shirtless Viggo...

American Yakuza Review
Flash Bang: Action Movie Reviews

'I sent him the script, he liked it and, only after adding a lot of riders and positive contributions and after hours talking about it, he accepted. He explores to the infinite, not only the character's emotions but also the wardrobe, all the things. He's so honest and generous.'

José Luis Acosta talking about 'Gimlet'
Chiaroscuro: Viggo, Light And Dark
By Rocio Garcia
El Pais, Translated by Graciela, Remolina, Sage and Zooey
17 May 2009

You've played a variety of roles, including Lucifer (The Prophecy, 1995).

Lucifer? Ah...that was fun, but difficult, because the truth is that I couldn't prepare the role the way that I usually do...going to Lucifer's house or meeting him or meeting his family.

"If they give me a Salvadorian script, I'm game."

By Isabela Vides - translated by Margarita
7 March 2007
Source: La Prensa Grafica

But for what may have been the only time in his career, Walken has a movie plucked out from underneath him. Viggo Mortensen shows up in the third act as Satan and steals the show.

11 March 2011

...not only that this is one of the more amusingly preposterous of the 90s run of disaster flicks, but, to my absolute amazement, it features Viggo Mortensen in a pre-Rings role, sporting a profoundly ridiculous blond weave, though still giving the film's best performance by miles as an arrogant survival fetishist who thinks he knows better than Kit.

Shaun Munro
BluRay review
Obsessed with Film
Feb 2011

'The profile of the average survivor of the underwater demolition training is a guy like me. Not a big guy, they're not big monsters, you know, "cause it's really more about mental toughness. It's like, in spite of being exhausted, wet and cold and tired and injured and browbeaten and all that, you stay focused on your objective."

Do you think you'd pass this sort of test?

"I'd like to think so, but I don't know until I do it."

Viggo Mortensen talking about GI Jane
The Master Chief
by Michele Manelis
Marie Claire
November 1997

"....when I met Gus [Van Sant] for the first time to discuss the part, my first question was: "why do you want to remake that movie; it was a perfectly good movie the first time round?" So I wasn't inclined to do it, but he simply said that it might be fun."

Viggo Mortensen on 'Psycho'
November 2007

Mr. Mortensen has the movie's richest role as the duplicitous painter who is coerced into agreeing to murder his lover. In the scenes in which he is supposed to appear sympathetic, he insinuates enough surliness to give his character a disquieting undertone of potential violence. But once David has been established as a rat, the actor shows flashes of pained regret for having to kill a woman he half loves.

A Perfect Murder review
Stephen Holden
New York Times
June 5, 1998

"I think being a conventional leading man is something that gives him a lot of trouble," says Goldwyn, recalling Mortensen's fears that A Walk on the Moon's Blouse Man might become a one-note sex god. "Of course, the success that implies is very attractive, but the trappings of that for someone like Viggo, who has so much to offer, can be very scary."

Viggo Trip
by Liane Bonin
Flaunt magazine #39, 2002

Walker is no mindless hippie going with the flow. He cares about Pearl. Certainly, he cares about pleasing her sexually. She gets her own flight to the moon at the same time as Neil Armstrong. And what Walker does to her under a waterfall should be bottled.

A Steamy 'Walk on The Moon'
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, April 2, 1999

As always, you will find all previous Quotables here in our Webpages.

© Images © Westmount; Courtesy of Sagralisse.

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Micropsia Translation

Source: Micropsia.
Found By: Eriko
© Haddock Films.
Many thanks to Ollie, Rio, Sage, and Zoe for translating the extended interview with Viggo posted by Diego Lerer at Micropsia. Many thanks to Eriko for the find!

Interview With Viggo Mortensen On The Shooting Of Todos Tenemos Un Plan

The car trip is taking us further and further from the city by the hour, until we leave it far behind, like a distant point that the eyes cannot make out. Then the boat, moving slowly along the river till reaching the island - unpleasant, desolated, dried up. The freezing cold that makes everything gloomy, spectral, covering all. Wind and more wind. There, at the end, behind some demolished shacks and some half put up tents, in a small clearing among dry leaves covering almost everything, a group of men, dressed in white from head to toe, are gathered in a cluster, close together. Survivors from a plague? Astronauts? Science-fiction characters?

The location of Todos tenemos un plan has something of fiction in itself. The heavy cables intermingle with the garbage on the ground and in a big metal drum a log is burning, letting out smoke and sparks and heat. People speak little - they seem tired, dirty - and look at the visitor with a certain scorn, like looking at a strange character approaching a group of survivors. It could be a scene from The Road, in which Viggo Mortensen himself acted. Or an unreleased and wintry episode from Lost. Or a frame from Tarkovsky´s Stalker, waiting to be filmed.

The men in white are not astronauts, of course. They are Mortensen himself, Sofía Gala, the director Ana Piterbarg and part of the technical crew who have to film a complicated scene involving the handling of dangerous bees. The thing is no easy matter. In addition to the scene´s own mechanics - which involves story-telling matters not convenient to reveal - they have to deal with the whims of the insects and the rigors of the weather. Although there are two cameras covering everything, it has to be repeated again and again.

During a break in the shooting, while the elements are being readied, Mortensen, without the hood that covers his face, looks with the reporter for a comfortable place to talk and chooses a shack that takes the place of an improvised trailer, possibly one of the most depressing in the history of cinema. "With the cold, bees don´t come out, they don´t want to come out", he says, explaining an unexpected complication in the scene while he sits down on... something.

It´s already known. At this stage it is not surprising to speak with Mortensen as you would do with a neighbour and begin the chat talking about River´s drop, the riots at the exit, whether the public should have attended and whether he remembers when San Lorenzo dropped. Neither are his drinking mate and his thermos bearing the cuervo emblem that goes with him everywhere. In the midst of the bleak landscape that the area of Dique Luján is near several private neighbourhoods and country clubs but so distant as to seem another planet - his calm presence and his soft, relaxed voice, are familiar, almost calming.

In the first Argentinian film of his career - of his life - the actor from A History of Violence puts himself in the skin of twin brothers, Agustín and Pedro. The former is a man who has moved to Buenos Aires and who seems to live a quiet, though somewhat frustrating, life until he finds out about the death of his brother, who lived in Tigre, where the two of them grew up. Agustín goes there and ends up taking on the identity of his brother, unaware that Pedro was involved in a criminal world and that his life, peaceful until now, will begin to be in danger.

"These are themes that came up in the first two films I made with Cronenberg," says Viggo, referring to A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, and excluding A Dangerous Method, in which he plays Sigmund Freud and which will have its world premiere in September at the Venice Film Festival. "The question of identity, of how we present ourselves to our family, friends, whatever. Although the difference is slight, you present a different personality to each person, depending on what you feel or what you want. It's natural to change how you present yourself a little. Even children learn to do it."

In your case, it must be even more so, since there's Viggo the Argentinian, the American, the Dane, the famous actor...

And yes, each time I return here I think about things from my childhood. Now that I've been working with Argentinians every day for quite a while, suddenly I'll see something and I'll remember things, ways of doing or saying things. This is the personal side that he also has when he goes back to Tigre: being able to relive that. Although you can't go back, you´ll remember.

That one brother has to be the other is, for an actor, like doubling your work. Being someone who is being someone else.

What Agustín does, trying to take his brother's place, is an actor's job. Noticing that he's trying to be the other one, paying more attention. For example, if I have to play you, I observe you more thoroughly than usual: how you speak, how you feel, how you walk, how you put on clothes, those things. Although this brother can see how the other puts on his clothes and knows some of his gestures, he's not an actor. And even if he were a much better actor, when someone who knows the other one sees him it's hard, harder than you'd think. And that makes him nervous...

Who are you now? (Laughter)

Now I'm playing the other, Pedro, but seventy, eighty percent of the time I'm Agustín trying to be Pedro. And in general it's going well. It's not only doing it well; it's that you have doubts about many other things. When that guy looks at you, does he know you or is he just looking at you? The way they treat you at the store. That dog that waits at the pier, is he mine? I don't know. At the same time, pretending so much, making the effort to literally get into the shoes of the other, you are beginning to understand him better. And also, you are getting to know more about yourself. At one point, he ceases to be nervous and cares less; he begins to like it....

Although it was not, it seems to be a movie made for you, because you have a person who goes away from where he lives , like you left Argentina.

Yes, he went away from this area with his brother when he was eleven. His brother returned of his own accord and there wasn't a good relationship between them. He gets to know his brother better after he dies. When he was alive he didn't know him well; he didn't know much about him. It's the same with me; my relationship with Argentina settles down as I stay here longer. I'm here, working; it's normal. I'm living nearby and we filmed a bit in Buenos Aires.

You have two younger brothers (he has two, Walter and Charles). Do they remember anything about being here?

When we left they were 8 and 6 years old. I was 11. They remember images. The middle one remembers more. But the youngest didn´t speak one word of English. He understood, but he spoke only Spanish and my parents were worried. I remember in the plane when we left, we spoke Spanish together. Afterwards we started speaking English and my younger brother, after a week, loosened up and completely forgot Spanish, forgot the vocabulary. When I came back, I recovered it all...

The plot looks as if it was a fictionalization of personal things: the different identities, the brothers who took different paths, leaving one place for another at eleven and, some time later, feeling at home when you come back.

There´s something of that. Making the film brings to me that thing about remembering my childhood. Speaking of brothers, there are photographs in the film that are of me with one of my brothers. There are things getting blended. When, as an adult, you go to the city, you lose things from childhood, you forget, and that cannot be recovered. There´s an inner world that has to do with the loss of innocence, with a certain inner, physical and mental thing. Agustín likes to see things as if they were new, to enjoy himself. He has done everything he had to do, lives in a nice apartment in Recoleta with his wife, is a doctor. Everything seems perfect, but he doesn´t feel that it belongs to him. And playing the other, his brother, he feels he´s becoming more himself. At first he is a bit clumsy with the motorboat, the bees, but he is learning, he is getting used to the silence. Being here he´s starting to remember: the house, the pier, the little river; the grandparents´ house where the children grew up until they were eleven. And I left when I was eleven. It´s very similar; you begin to remember things.

In Alatriste you speak Spanish, but you are doing an accent. This is the first role where you play a one hundred per cent Argentinian.

I did a small role in Ray Loriga´s La pistola de mi hermano, somewhere around 1996. It was one scene, an exiled Argentinian who lived in the country. There I spoke a little. Here there´s a difference between the brothers: one speaks more correctly and with another tone. He is a doctor, lives in Buenos Aires, speaks well. The other is a bit more islander and speaks like me, half "blahblahblah". It´s subtle, but it´s a difference.

About the way of working, do you feel it´s very different from the one you are used to in the United States?

No, it has something similar to the way of making independent cinema there. Obviously there´s a way of being, culturally, here and in Spain, which is different. But generally work is done equally well. The way you speak to each other changes; I like this kissing everybody you see in the morning...

How do you see Ana, doing such a complex first work, one that requires so much responsibility?

Rather self-assured. She must be feeling pressure, but it doesn´t show. She is very careful and doesn´t want to waste the chance. But the challenge is great, filming in the Delta, in winter. We respect the script she wrote very much. We look for things, too, we talk, we have a very good relationship. There are always changes, different things, but everything is very faithful to what she wrote.

Since you're hooked on young Argentinian literature, are you seeing national cinema as well?

A little more now. I saw some things in Spain, less in the United States. When I come, I buy films; I see what I can. There is much more here. Thinking about this film, I saw La León and it's beautiful. To see how the people of this area are - the islanders, the Paraguayans, the landscape. It's very good. I'd also read Haroldo Conti's Sudeste [Southeast], and I re-read it. Sudeste is a meditation and it also has a thriller aspect, and there are paragraphs, phrases from that book that helped me a lot. Another excellent book that was re-published and that touches on this subject is Enrique Wernicke's La Ribera [The River Bank] on the relationship between the man and Rosa (Sofía Gala's character). There are things in the film inspired by that novel.

Tell me about working with the Argentinian actors. How has it been so far?

With Soledad (Villamil), we did very difficult scenes and it went very well. She comes to let one brother know that the other has passed away. With (Daniel) Fanego too, we had a key scene and it was very good too. He has tremendous presence. And Sofía is great, too. We rehearse a lot, more than I'm used to doing, but I like it. And the ones that come from the theater like it a lot. All of us prepared the best we could, the actors, the director, the technicians, because once the thing gets going, everything is what you did before and you have to live with that...

What does your agent say when you show up with a project like this?

She wants to kill herself (Laughs) Why Alatriste, this one, theater? But it's what I like. Suddenly I received offers for a lot of bucks but, no, I'm doing this. I'm not refusing to do big films; I'm not doing only independent things. I do the things that I like. And above all, when I say that I'm going to do something, I do it. I know that there are actors that say, "Shit, if they are going to pay me a million dollars to do something else, I'm going." But no. If I'd have said "yes" to a studio film, and this script had arrived, I would have done the same thing.

But this can't be the first Argentinian script that's been given to you.

Whenever I come to visit, I take back several. Not only could I do Ana's but it interested me a lot. Others didn't interest me or I was doing other things and couldn't. I haven't been working as much lately. I was going to do theatre in Spain, but my mom got sick and my father had some problems and I had to leave several things to be with them. It's been a while since I filmed The Road. Those were two difficult years. Until six months ago, I'd been with my parents a lot. It was lucky that I could, but it took saying no to several things. In David Cronenberg's movie, I replaced someone else. He told me, "I know that you're with your parents, but you can do it all concentrated into one week and if you have to return, you return." I haven't seen the film, but I know of people who saw it and liked it. I did that and one very short role in Walter Salles' On the Road. I filmed in New Orleans, the part of Old Bull Lee, who is based on William Burroughs. We did it in a week. I haven't seen anything from the film yet.

And how about the cast reunion from The Lord of the Rings for The Hobbit? Are you going to participate in that?

They asked me if I was interested and if I was willing when The Road was released. The character isn't in The Hobbit, but they were thinking of creating a bridge between the two films. Now they are already making it and I still don't know anything. But if Aragorn is going to return, I prefer to be the one to do it.

© Micropsia. Images © Haddock Films.

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Last edited: 11 December 2017 23:15:37