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Viggo-Works Exclusive Interview with Viggo: April 12, 2014

Good Food, Good Friends, and Good Conversation
Viggo-Works Talks to Viggo Mortensen

As the crowning point of our Viggo-Works 10th Anniversary celebration, we are so very pleased to share with everyone, an exclusive interview with Viggo, done about a month ago. This is something that we thought would be impossible to pull off, but through Viggo's graciousness we, once again, have been able to ask him a few questions and get some quite remarkable answers. Some of these questions are ones that only a fan site would think to ask, which makes Viggo's replies all the more extraordinary. Our thanks to Viggo for making this possible and taking the time out of his (always) busy schedule to respond to us and help us celebrate our Viggo-Works 10th Anniversary.

What an anniversary present this is!!

Read on ...


• David Oelhoffen had obviously been working on the "Loin des hommes" project for quite a while before finances were secured for the filming. At what point did you become involved with the project? What were the challenges in portraying Daru? And was filming in Morocco more difficult for this film than they were for "Hidalgo

-A couple of years ago David Oelhoffen, through his producer Matthew Gledhill, approached me to see if I would be interested in portraying the Algerian school teacher 'Daru' in David's adaptation of Albert Camus' short story from 1957, "l'Hôte" ("The Guest"), titled "Loin des hommes" ("Far From Men"). They had seen me speaking Quebec-accented French in an interview, and wondered if I thought I'd be up to playing a character in that language. I have long been an admirer of Camus the writer and Camus the man, but I was not familiar with that particular short story from the collection titled "L'exil et le royaume" ("Exile and the Kingdom"). When I had read both the story and the screenplay, I realised that David'd expansion of the story was a very good one, and I said that I would be honoured to try my hand at playing the character. As with most worth-while movie projects, it took a while to get the financing together, but we ended up making a very good movie, very true to the spirit of Camus, in my opinion. Shooting in the Atlas Mountains was not any harder than it needed to be. It was as cold and beautiful as we needed it to be most of the time, except at the start of shooting when it was a bit too warm. The look and feel of the movie is always wintry, though. Reda Kateb, a very fine French actor of Algerian descent, was my partner, playing the role of the prisoner 'Mohammed'. For my role I had to speak Arabic as well as French. It turned out to be a bit more of a challenge to get rid of the more nasal sound of my normal French than it was to learn to speak my Arabic lines. In the end, I believe both languages worked out well.

• You've said that you create a back story for your characters from the time they were born. In "Everybody Has A Plan" you play twins - which one did you consider to be the firstborn? And why?

-The character of 'Agustín', the Buenos Aires middle-class doctor, seemed the older one always, perhaps because he seemed more socially responsible. In the end, if you have seen Ana Piterbarg's movie, however, you will have seen that 'Agustín' has just as many social problems as his brother 'Pedro'.

• When it comes to creating a character's appearance is there anything you particularly dislike having to wear (e.g. wig, contact lenses, prosthetics etc)?

-No. I'll do just about anything to get the particulars of any character "right", and usually end up enjoying all aspects of that exploration.

• Why did you decide to set up Perceval Pictures and where do you see it going in the future?

-To help produce "Loin des hommes", "Todos tenemos un plan", and Lisandro Alonso's new movie, which we shot in Argentina last year. In future, I may try to produce other projects, perhaps an adaptation of Mari Sandoz' "The Horsecatcher" from scratch. We'll see.

© Pure Agency - Images: Adam Whitehead

Is ACÁ the soundtrack for Jauja?

-No, it is not. One song on it is partly inspired by our collaboration, but the CD is basically a story about travelling up a mountain stream through a period of late winter into early spring. There will be two tracks in Lisandro's movie that I did produce, however, in which Buckethead plays some beautiful guitar tracks.

• You were a producer for Everybody Has A Plan and, more recently, Jauja - how much does being a producer add to your workload? Does it allow you to have more input as to how the finished work turns out?

-It depends on how competent and organised the other people involved in the project are. It does involve some added responsibilities to my acting work, but I am happy, in my capacity as a fellow producer, to help the director get his vision onto the screen and to do what I can to see that the movie is properly presented to the public.

• In an interview you said that "The Horsecatcher" is a universal story and that you "could transpose it to an inner city and have instead the pressure to take drugs." Does the script you have been working on place it in a modern setting or are you staying faithful to the book?

-I am staying faithful to the book. It takes place in the 19th century and there are no Europeans or people of European descent in the story.

© G7 magazine

• Are there any other books (if you could obtain the necessary rights) that you would like to film in the role of director?

-Not yet, although there are many gems out there that have not been made into movies.

• You narrated The Path Of The Condor and, more recently, you have narrated The Little Prince. You also contributed to The Wasteland app. How did you get involved in these projects and would you like to do more narration work in the future?

-I was invited. I wouldn't mind doing more narration. It is an enjoyable way to participate in story-telling.

• Do you have any plans to return to the stage? And which country (or countries) would you like to perform in?

-I'd like to play a role from Shakespeare in England. But could be a newer play as well.

• Is there any Shakespeare character you would like to play (that you haven't already)?

-Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, Macbeth, to name a few, but there are many interesting roles that I would imagine I could play. Even Hamlet, in spite of my age, if I could.


• Are you working on any new literary pieces of your own … poetry, prose, photography … that we can anticipate coming from Perceval Press in the next year?

-Photos, poems, drawings. Not sure when I will have something ready. Perhaps a book of photos with some new poems scattered throughout, like I have done in the past, could be ready this year.

• Do you still create any visual arts like paintings or drawings?

-Drawings, and hope to get back to painting when I move to a bit larger home later in the year.

• For a couple of years you've mentioned the possibility of a photographic exhibition – is that still on your agenda and, if so, in which city is it likely to be held?

-No idea at this point, but hope to do one tied to a new book, when that is ready.

• Your blog at Perceval Press always contains so many interesting political and social viewpoints. What do you see as the top three or four worldwide issues before us at this time?

-Climate change, hunger, greed, and, above all, war, an issue that is connected to and feeds the other three.


• You've filmed in England several times but we've never seen any evidence that you have adopted an English soccer team, unlike when you've been filming in other countries and have usually found a team to support. Do you have a preference for a particular English team or are you simply overwhelmed by the choice provided by the various English leagues? And have you had the opportunity to go to any matches when you've been filming in England?

-I've been to see Fulham, Tottenham, and Arsenal in their stadiums over the years. I like Fulham, the oldest Premier League team, I believe, and one of the world's oldest football clubs. They have colours similar to Istanbul's Beşiktaş, a club I am also fond of.

• What are your views on the introduction of goal-line technology?

-Long overdue. Obviously this was not feasible back in 1966, when Germany was beaten by England in the final thanks to a goal that should never have been allowed, but many injustices could have been avoided in recent World Cups as well as Champions League matches -not to mention every league of any size or age-group for men, women, girls or boys anywhere in the world- if FIFA had incorporated the technology in a timely fashion.

• If you could go back in time, where would you go and why?

-It is difficult to choose any one place or time. The more one learns about history, archaeology, biology, and other disciplines, the more one becomes fascinated with all sorts of eras and locations. If I only had one choice, however, and had to choose between a made-made environment, no how dazzling a place it might be, and wild nature, I would always choose a place untouched by humans.

© Getty Images - Images: Andreas Rentz

• We've read about how much you love gardening. What do you grow?

-Depends on the climate and the amount of sun the place gets. Lately lots of flowers, from spring perennials to roses. I try to always have mint, basil, rosemary and other herbs and aromatic plants going. In the past I have also had big vegetable gardens, and have planted hundreds of trees over the years, hardwoods, citrus, cherries, apples, plums, pears, apples, pines. Also have had grape vines. I like a good vegetable garden, encircled by wildflowers. It is very satisfying work. Maybe when I one day get back to living in the country again I will be able to start another big garden like the ones I've had in the past.

• We know that you have seen the two instalments of "The Hobbit" that have been released so far – what are your views on the films and how the story and characters have been treated.

-I've enjoyed seeing the first two installments of Peter Jackson's adaptations inspired by The Hobbit, even though I was sometimes distracted by the liberties taken with Tolkien's story. I suppose it was necessary to come up with a lot of new entertaining material in order to expand into three long movies what is a much shorter book than The Lord of the Rings is.

• Just for fun … what is your favorite comfort food?

-Hard to choose one, but I can give you four off the top of my head: pickled herring, strong cheddar cheese, dark chocolate, and salted almonds.

© Getty/Jag Gundu

• Name six historical figures you would like to invite to a dinner party.

-Again, far too many to chose from, but I can give you the first ones that come to mind at this moment: Albert Camus, Minerva Chapman, Buffalo Bill Cody, Karen Blixen, Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman, Clara Barton, Bertrand Russell, Alfredo Alcón, Padre Lorenzo Massa, Rosa Luxemburg, Noam Chomsky, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Alfonsina Storni, Rolf Krake, Ada Falcón, William Shakespeare, Wangari Maathai, Crazy Horse, Hannah Arendt, Gautama Buddah, Hypatia, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Santa Teresa de Avila, Oscar Wilde, the Prophet Muhammad, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Jorge Luis Borges, R. M. Rilke, Marguerite Duras, Leonardo da Vinci, Jesus Christ, Carl T. Dreyer, Maria Falconetti, Stefan Schweig, Sigmund Freud, Ludvig Holberg, Mohandas Gandhi, Howard Zinn, Saxo Grammaticus, Artemisia Genitleschi, Leo Messi and Allan Simonsen seated together... that's probably enough for a long table.

• And what would you cook for them?

-I would make a giant salad from my own garden, provide good home-baked bread, and, too be safe and not offend anyone, a big rice dish with options of meat and vegetarian, with lots of hand-picked forest mushrooms in both. Also oven-baked potatoes, carrots, garlic, turnips, onions. For those interested, I'd provide fresh-caught wild rainbow trout and salmon, grilled with a bit of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blackberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, blueberries, huckleberries, apples, plums, wild grapes, and whatever else I could find in my ideal orchards and surrounding forest. Lots of good water from a spring, and plenty of red and white wine from Spain, Argentina, Italy, France, and New Zealand.


Our thanks, once again, to Viggo. Here's to another 10 years!


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Viggo in Studio Ciné Live magazine

Source: Studio Ciné Live.
Found By: Dom
Many thanks to Dom for providing scans of the Viggo interview in the June edition of Studio Ciné Live magazine in France:

Click to enlarge

Images © Studio Ciné Live.

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The Two Faces of January screening at the Provincetown International Film Festival on Saturday, June 21

Source: Provincetown International Film Festival.
Found By: Chrissie
Thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this info for the screening in Provincetown, MA.
Image Jack English.
© StudioCanal.
What begins as a seemingly opportune meeting between Chester and Colette MacFarland, a wealthy American couple touring Athens, and Rydal, an American expat/tour guide (and small-time con man), quickly devolves into a precarious love triangle in this twisty adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel. The film, which makes gorgeous use of its exotic locales, marks the directorial debut of Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini, who earned an Oscar nomination for his adaptation of Henry James' The Wings of the Dove. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.

DATE: Sat Jun 21 10:00PM
VENUE: Town Hall

Click HERE for more details.

© Provincetown International Film Festival. Images © StudioCanal.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Stewart, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper. What might these doyens of vintage cinematic manliness have in common. Well... that would be Viggo. Peter Howell of the Toronto Star called Viggo the 'New John Wayne' after seeing Hidalgo, while live Sinclair of The Times Literary Supplement called him a 'latter day Gary Cooper'. This likeness to gritty movie stars of the past has come to the fore again with several comparisons made in Two Faces of January reviews and articles, and even in Jauja. Over the years even his relationship with Cronenberg has been seen as mirroring some of the great movie partnerships of the past such as John Ford and John Wayne, and Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood. I guess what they all have in common is a plentiful helping of True Grit.

Jauja is a film of great formal beauty... And, incidentally, the umpteenth confirmation of Viggo Mortensen´s great talent. Mustachioed , astride his horse in a cavalry uniform, sword in sheath and a splendid hat on his head, he is reminiscent of John Wayne in the early John Ford films.

Jauja: Viggo Mortensen, Following John Wayne's Footsteps
By Franck Nouchi - translated by Ollie and Zoe
Le Monde
19 May 2014

Mortensen tends to play listeners – whether the laconic adventurer-king Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, or Nikolai, his Russian mobster in David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises.

It's part of what makes the 55-year-old Danish-American star an old-fashioned sort of movie idol. He's cut from the same chiselled, masculine material as Robert Mitchum, with whom he shares a dimpled chin and a taste for complex heroes.

The Two Faces of January
By Tim Robey
The Telegraph
15 May 2014

Viggo Mortensen turns 50 next year, and he's one of those movie actors whom you want to see age. There's a menace that lurks beneath Mortensen's cool, taut exterior and it never comes as any surprise when it spills over and scalds anyone unfortunate enough to jar that smoothly lined lid open.

This is the quality of an old-school action star, the ability to hint at lifetimes of unspoken and unseen experience that kept drawing directors like John Ford back to actors like John Wayne, Anthony Mann back to James Stewart, Sergio Leone back to Clint Eastwood, and -- twice now -- David Cronenberg back to Mortensen. And it's a quality that only gets more menacingly potent with time.

As Cronenberg crawls deeper into the psychology of violence, his cool leading man soars
Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
20 September 2007

Viggo, speaking vintage Castillian Spanish with his own voice, dominates the film as a kind of Medieval Clint Eastwood, short on words, long on deadly action when required…

Viggo Mortensen - Heroic On And Off Screen
By Alex Deleon
16 October 2006

When there's action to be had, Mortensen looks like a real pro. He's got the cowboy drawl down pat; shoots a Colt .45 with confidence; delivers sharp one-liners like a kinder, gentler Clint Eastwood...

Hidalgo review
Leigh Johnson

'He's just somebody I spotted as having a kind of appeal that I don't see a lot of actors having anymore. It's just mainly from when I grew up that I'm always on the prowl for guys who could kind of play the roles Clint Eastwood played 30 years ago. And he sort of seems to be that kind - with some real serious acting chops.'

Josh Olson on Viggo Mortensen
Interview with Jock Olson, by Rebecca Murray August 2005

"He is methodical, exacting in his work, he carries out meticulous labors to do something that looks true, and projects it. He is like Robert Mitchum or William Holden, the class of actors whose work seems effortless."

Ray Loriga
Chiaroscuro: Viggo, Light And Dark
By Rocio Garcia - translated by Graciela, Remolina, Sage and Zooey
El Pais
26 June 2009

What Viggo Mortensen does with the character [Alatriste] is extraordinary, not just because of his splendid appearance, but because of his acting, full of subtleties, sober intensity, as well as looks and gestures that serve to convey a story in a way that has rarely been seen onscreen since the deaths of actors like John Wayne, James Stewart or Robert Mitchum.

An Accordant Man
By Javier Marías - translated by Xabo
El País Semanal
17 September 2006

It's not as if we haven't seen movies like "Hidalgo" before -- the cowboy, the horse, the hat -- and yet there's something fresh about it all the same. Part of it comes from Viggo Mortensen, an actor who has the measured pace and steady gaze of a Cooper or a Stewart.

Wild West to wild Mideast
Mortensen saddles up as former cowboy racing across desert
Mick LaSalle
Chronicle, 5 March 2004

Viggo Mortensen – increasingly a latter-day Gary Cooper – and epigone Kodi Smit-McPhee that we never doubt the answer for a moment.

'The Road' Review
Clive Sinclair
The Times Literary Supplement
2 November 2009

There's a scene in that film, Eastern Promises, where his character, Nikolai, stubs a cigarette out on his own tongue. At that moment, all was made clear: Mortensen was an old-fashioned star, as confident and as taciturn as Gary Cooper.

Viggo Mortensen
By David Thomson
The Guardian,
10 April 2009

Mortensen, who became a hunky heartthrob as the warrior Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" series, carries himself like Gary Cooper here, radiating earthy charm and easy humor, as well as a quiet determination.

Hidalgo Review
James Sanford
Kalamazoo Gazette 2004

Joe Johnson said that you reminded him of a matinee idol of a bygone era, such as Gary Cooper, how does that make you feel?

Very flattered, because they are very good actors. What they were good at, beyond what they looked like, or whatever their presence, is the same thing that I admire in Omar Sharif, which is a kind of acting that is often under-rated and under-valued.

Hidalgo - Viggo Mortensen Q&A
Indie London
By Jack Foley

With his aqua blue eyes and chiselled jaw, he is every bit the American film hero - a Harrison Ford or a John Wayne, but with a darkness lurking beneath.....

Sasha Stone
Santa Monica Mirror
28 September 2005

It should come as no surprise to learn that Mortensen is an admirer of Greta Garbo, the "I vant to be alone" diva, and also John "The Duke" Wayne, star of Howard Hawks' Red River, a classic western and one of Mortensen's favourites.

"I just think John Wayne was wonderful, and I'm not looking at him as just this icon," said the chisel-jawed actor, a study in seriousness behind innocent blue eyes.

A New John Wayne: Viggo Mortensen Saddles Up for Hidalgo
By Peter Howell
Toronto Star
5 March 2004

HP: Does it mean anything to you when large movie magazines compare you with Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and James Stewart? And say that you have the same "uugrundelige", under the surface madness?

VM: That's something, but you need to be lucky. If it happens you say "thank you", but you can never count on it.

Go'Aften Danmark Interview
By - transcribed/translated by Rosen
23 September 2007

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Two Faces of January: StudioCanal/various unknown.

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Viggo Interview in Sunday Style magazine

Source: Sunday Style.
Found By: Chrissie
From the Australian magazine Sunday Style, with thanks to Chrissie.

The Danish-American, 55, on swapping swords for suspense and why he still prefers to slip under the radar.

© StudioCanal.
by Vanessa Keys

Your new film, The Two Faces of January, is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote The Talented Mr Ripley. Is it challenging creating an atmosphere of suspense when everyone already knows the ending?

Yes and no. Hossein's [Amini, the film's writer-director] screenplay stays very true to Highsmith's book. He really focused on creating highly complex characters, and that's where a lot of the film's suspense and intrigue comes from. And even though the setting and the time period is similar to Mr Ripley, I'd say this adaptation of Highsmith is more faithful to her sensibility.

It's a lot subtler.

Absolutely. It's similar to Mr Ripley in a lot of ways – the characters are all middle-class American tourists behaving badly in the early '60s – but The Two Faces is messier, more unpredictable, murkier. It's more of a true film noir story than Mr Ripley.

You play Chester MacFarland, a suave American who runs into trouble while holidaying in Greece with his wife, Colette. You're often cast as the hero who fights the forces of evil – was it refreshing to play a bad guy?

It was, but Chester isn't as simplistic as that. Yes, he's a villain in the sense that he's wronged people, but there's good in him. You're actually more embarrassed for him and the way he behaves. And his genuine affection for his wife – played by Kirsten [Dunst] – is his weakness. He wants to protect her above everything else.

Speaking of Kirsten, she said that, before she met you, she thought you'd be intimidating, but she was surprised by how "funny" you were. Were you intimidated by her?

[Laughs} There's always a bit of nervousness with things like this. Yeah, she's someone whose work I admire, so I hoped we'd get along. And we did. She's pretty funny herself, very funny. We laughed a lot during filming.

Your dedication to character research has been well documented. For Lord of the Rings you spent days hiking to the film's remote locations, in costume and carrying your sword. How did you research to play Chester?

I was mainly interested in what kind of generation he was from. I spoke with my father's friends, men who came of age during the Great Depression and served in WWII, like Chester. And that informed how he'd wear his clothes, how he'd speak, his gestures and his attitude towards women. The one thing about these men that I found most interesting was that, even at their most downcast, their appearance was paramount. Every day, they ironed their shirts and smoothed their hair, no matter what.

Chester does have an impressive collection of linen suits. What's your approach to fashion?

[Laughs] Oh, I'm much more sloppy. I mean, today, because I'm talking to you, I put in some effort and dressed in a clean shirt and nice jacket.

Is that unusual for you?

Yeah, I mean, I do take a bath every day [laughs] and I have good hygiene – I think. But I'm a lot more casual in the way that I dress.

Until LOTR, you managed to slip pretty much under the radar. Was it a tricky transition into fame after the first film came out?

It definitely took some getting used to. All of a sudden everyone is looking at you and paying you a lot of attention, and they think they know you because they know the character. I've never taken it for granted because, as you say, it came to me at a later stage in my career.

Which life do you prefer?

It's nice to have both. I mean, here we are in London, doing this interview. This is not a huge movie but, you know, it's a nicely made movie and there's a budget to do a proper press junket.

There are posters all over the tube stations…

Yeah, and we're in a nice hotel and I won't have to pay for this coffee we're drinking, and my hotel room is paid for and a man comes by in a car to pick me up to take me to do interviews. Once in a while, it's nice to go to a big city and have someone serve you dinner. But I like change; I like to mix things up. I don't like a lot of fanfare but, every now and then, it's nice.

© Herald Sun and Sunday Telegraph. Images © StudioCanal.

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Last edited: 19 August 2014 14:14:44