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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Categories: Media Quotable Viggo

The latest Scannia article gives me another cracking quote, one which easily fits into my collection of favourite journalists' descriptions of Viggo's face. Describing his jaw as one you could 'carve a roast with' makes it irresistible. Over the years they have seen his cheek bones like bacon slicers, his jaw as granite and described him as looking like a knight, a saint and... um... a zoo keeper crossed with a mechanic (I guess you had to be there...).

...he has a defiantly-handsome face, with a jaw so well-defined you could carve a roast with it.

Viggo Mortensen talks Jauja
By Philip Bagnal
11 March 2015

Viggo Mortensen has one of the most incredible faces in the world, striking and amazingly versatile. His rough-hewn, chiseled visage allows him to inhabit any character he wants to, regardless of background or ethnicity, and we buy into it unconditionally.

...a face so sharp it looks like it could cut diamonds...

Andrew Smith
Charleston Gazette
29 Sept 2007

Viggo Mortensen is a serious and impassioned actor whose apparent severity extends to his Nordic features: he has hard blue eyes, and a pair of cheekbones that could double as bookshelves.

Viggo Mortensen: A Method Actor in Middle-Earth
by Ryan Gilbey
The Independent 2001

I was successful in not being reduced to jellied awe before his sculpted visage. Imagine if Norse gods had spawned a surfer dude.

It's Good to be "King"
By Susan Wloszczyna
USA Today, 2003

......Mortensen's an actor I'm content just to watch: Those riven cheeks, taut against blade-sharp cheekbones....

Ray Pride
Movie City News
Review Date: March 4, 2004

His hair is neat and mid-length, his angular face cleanly shaven. The cleft in his chin is on proud show, as deep and true as if a child had just pressed their pinkie into his flesh.

Viggo Mortensen is lord of all things
Chitra Ramaswamy
The Scotsman
24 May 2013

...the unyielding face of Viggo Mortensen, as mysterious here as the Sphinx.

Jauja: Viggo Mortensen Lost in Patagonia
By Eric Vernay - translated by Donna Marie
Premiere (France)
19 May 2014

...he's a method, no-restraint genius who looks like a mechanic, crossed with zoo keeper, crossed with a brooding former model turned emotionally-tortured bad boy.

20 Actors Who Deserve Your Support
By Josh
Cinema Blend
22 August 2010

His face is granite, and built on the most imposing jawline in the business since Kirk Douglas….

Viggo Mortensen: first Good - and then goodbye?
By Kevin Maher
The Times
2 April 2009

...cheekbones like lemon juicers.

Nicholas Barber
The Independent
10 January 2010

It has always helped that he looks like a Round Table knight.

The Great Dane
Men's Vogue
By Phoebe Eaton
March 2008 charismatic as Steve McQueen and as beautiful as a saint in a master painting.

Dana Stevens
13 Sept 2007

Viggo Mortensen is a smolderer. He opens those intense, I-know-how-to-build-my-own-kitchen eyes, and he wins my girlfriend over every time. Obviously, I want to hate him because anyone that ruggedly handsome has to be despised on principal alone, but like Paul Newman and his absurdly delicious salad dressing, there comes a day when you just have to admit a dude's alright.

20 Actors Who Deserve Your Support
By Josh
Cinema Blend
22 August 2010

…as weathered and craggily handsome as any butte in Monument Valley.

Richard Corliss on Mortensen, Harris and
19 September 2008

Mortensen is a glowering marvel, locating a great range of expression in impassivity, his stone face prone to compelling split-second fissures.

Indelible Ink
By Adam Nayman
Eye Weekly
30 Aug 2007

The years have written their history on him with traces of lines that turn beauty into wisdom, while the harsh trace of life, which clouds yesterday's glowing eyes, has given them in exchange a deep and warm expression where we find the courage to meet our own fears.

Viggo's Other Look
Diario de León
By María Dolores García - translated by Paddy
26 June 2005

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Focus Features.

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Jauja - U.K. Movie Poster

Categories: Jauja Movies Posters
Many thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this new poster, which also includes the pronunciation for the film's title.

Images © 4L Productions/Soda Pictures.

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Viggo Mortensen talks Jauja

Source: Scannian.
Found By: Chissie
Chrissie brings us this interview by Philip Bagnall at the Irish site Scannian, ahead of Jauja screening at the Dingle International Film Festival on 15 March.
© 4L Productions.
As Viggo Mortensen approaches from the wings of a London cinema lobby, we're agog to see he's wearing a suit. Onscreen, Mortensen often sports long mud-matted hair, casual duds (at best) and can often be found atop a horse. When we meet him, his haircut is tight, he's in a handsome grey check suit, and there's nary a nag to be seen. Proffering a strong handshake, he settles down into a brown leather seat before quizzically inspecting the PR cheat sheet we've been given with his picture. We reassure him the stock photo is fine; he has a defiantly-handsome face, with a jaw so well-defined you could carve a roast with it. He's full of enthusiasm and talk; as star, composer and producer of Jauja, he'd have to be. Again, the image is subverted. Mortensen doesn't play chatterboxes. His stock in trade is classic strong, silent types; it's probably why you find him in many period pieces.

On the surface, Jauja fits that period mould, but Lisandro Alonso's film challenges expectations from the off. We meet Mortensen ahead of the film's screening at the London Film Festival, and expectations are high. Presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, it's a meditative piece, with Mortensen in typically commanding form as Gunnar Dinesen, a Danish army captain who has been drafted in to offer his expertise to the Argentine army in 1880s Patagonia during the later stages of the 'Conquest of the Desert'. Mortensen's father was Danish, and he grew up in Argentina, so this role seemed tailor-made. "On a personal level, it was interesting as an actor to play in Danish for the first time, which I expected to do with a Danish director. But here I am in Patagonia doing it for Lisandro Alonso!" We note the badge depicting crossed Danish and Argentine flags pinned to Mortensen's suit jacket, and the match of actor and material feels increasingly serendipitous. "Because I was raised in Argentina for most of the first decade of my life, it was nice to be down there in those landscapes that were somewhat familiar, even though I was playing a character who was very much a fish out of water. On a personal level, it was fun to ride a horse in those places where I'd ridden before as a child."

The film blends not only Mortensen's own roots, but the complex histories of both Argentina and Denmark. As Mortensen explains, Dinesen is a veteran of the First and Second Schleswig Wars. "The uniform this character wears has service medals from these two wars. It was something I knew about, but I learned more about it, as you can when you want to make this sort of story. In Argentine history it's an important period too, with the genocidal conquest of the frontier." The Conquest of the Desert saw the deaths of hundreds of native Patagonians and the displacement or enslavement of thousands more. With this weighty history on its shoulders, is Jauja a movie with a message? Mortensen is emphatic, "No, it's not an ideological movie, and I don't think Lisandro really thinks in those terms. But you could certainly extrapolate and make connections if you want to with any colonial experience, with any imperialistic situation."

Jauja is purely artistic in intent, and Mortensen is full of praise for Alonso, who channels his talent for telling tales of solitary, driven men into his first period piece. "The first thing I liked [about Jauja] was that it was Lisandro Alonso directing. His movies, I think they're interesting; they're not like anyone else's. He's truly a singular voice in cinema. Then, I liked the story because even on the page I could see that it was as Danish as it was Argentine, that sensibility. And especially once we got the translations right, as far as the Danish, because it was written by an Argentine poet (Fabian Casas) with Lisandro, neither of whom had ever been to Denmark. They didn't understand Danish; most people don't!"

That sensibility Mortensen mentions, whether Argentine or Danish, is poetic and measured. Jauja's plot sees Dinesen search for his daughter after she's seduced and elopes with a young Argentinian soldier. Mortensen is quick to dispel the obvious comparisons to John Ford and The Searchers. "I can see why, with the man going off to find this young girl, and the landscape, and it is an existential Western, or whatever you want to call it. People look to compare and compartmentalise things that they can't get their head around, and I think humans do that naturally. So, as someone who loves watching all kinds of movies, I can immediately see a connection to Sokurov or Tarkovsky or certain off-the-beaten-track Westerns from the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s. But it's not really like any other movie. That being said you can make these comparisons, but I don't think it's like anything else that I've seen, really."

He has a point. Individual shots and scenes can recall various filmmakers, from Tarkovsky to Lynch, but Jauja's woozy atmosphere and unlikely twists render such comparisons moot. "What I think is special about Lisandro is that he's able to make a truly original movie, remarkably original, without referencing other filmmakers or other movies, without drawing attention to what he's doing, without showing off. My feeling is that the film is not in any way pretentious, and yet it stands out from all other movies. That's a hard thing to do." The film does draw on many film sources for inspiration, albeit never explicitly. Mortensen posits influences even older than film itself; "I think the way the movie turned out is very much as Danish as it is Argentine. It's as much like a strange Hans Christian Andersen story as it is a Borges kind of story, a very unusual hybrid." The Andersen comparison is apt; as the film goes on, it becomes more dreamlike and unusual, until a final act that blends a fairytale with elements of Beckett. It's a potential audience-splitter, but then Mortensen's never surrendered to any kind of commercial instincts, even after a lead role in the Lord of the Rings juggernaut.

Alonso's method of shooting, a back-to-basics approach, appealed to this outdoorsy leading man. "It was really fun. We were hundreds of kilometres from any telephone or Internet. Sometimes we were sleeping outdoors and not in the greatest conditions, improvising what to eat and transport and things like that. It was very much a family affair. It was a crew that was at most a little over a dozen, and by the end when we were shooting scenes in a cave in the far south, we were about nine or ten people altogether. Everybody's doing different jobs."

Mortensen and Lisandro are obviously more concerned with art than commerce. Even the way Jauja is presented could alienate, the 4:3 ratio looming like a relic of a bygone age. "The Academy frame was something that happened in the process," explains Mortensen. "When [Lisandro] started looking at the footage the lab had cropped it strangely. He wanted to see more of the sky, and he was concerned about that. So he said, 'Just send it to me so I can edit it.' As soon as he saw it, he realised that's the way it should look, and so he put it together that way." Mortensen clearly appreciates the role chance plays in filmmaking. "There are a lot of things like that when you make a film like Lisandro does, when you're open to good fortune and accidents happening, and being prepared to use them and make the most of them, then it's helpful."

© Scannian. Images © 4L Productions.

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“You must read Camus if you're plugged in."

Source: 24 Heures
Many thanks to Donna Marie for translating the interview from 24 Heures (which was previously posted on the news thread) where Viggo discusses the importance of reading Camus.

Viggo Mortensen defends the French humanist in Far From Men

© One World Films..
by Cécile Lecoultre

Director Peter Jackson, who crowned him king in The Lord of the Rings, nicknamed him "no ego Viggo". His counterpart David Cronenberg is full of praise for his kindness, even if he has directed him as a brutal character in some films, like A History of Violence. Completing the enigma, Reda Kateb, his partner in Far From Men, tells of how at the canteen Viggo Mortensen will never fail to bring back his tray . . . and yours. This thoughtfulness materializes when the cosmopolitan actor offers to share his cup of maté, Argentine drink from his childhood, or a cigarette, trace of his New York addiction. Or hands you a collection of his photographs, a historical stroll in his secret garden.

At the age of 56, here he is speaking an impeccable French in the adaptation of The Host, the new story from Albert Camus. At a time electrified by racial intolerance, the author of The Stranger is suddenly, totally current. "You must read and re-read Camus, if you are plugged into our time. I devoured him in English in college, then in French in university. He has never left me", confides the actor from Far From Men. His bluish eyes shine: "and Gide, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Zola, then Proust, Balzac, Céline, Hugo. And Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir."

He grimaces at the memory of the pair of agitators from Saint-Germain-des-Prés: "These people, like the leftist elite of the post-war period, were dishonest with Camus, with a filthy injustice in their attempts to discredit and marginalize his thought." Always the righter of wrongs, Viggo Mortensen, just like the time of Aragorn against the Orcs. "In my opinion, their attacks on his private life, his work were rooted in a deep jealousy about his political and moral commitment. I hope that this film will reinforce the idea that Camus must be regarded as a decisive philosophical voice of the 20th century."

His French comes from time spent in Quebec and, more prosaically, his passion for the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team. Keeping the essential here and there, Viggo Mortensen has been dragging his baggage from movie set to theatre stage for several decades. "Like the nomadic artists, my itinerant existence is explained without doubt by an insatiable curiosity for cultures and landscapes. It helps me to get into a role: I'm always anxious about understanding an era, a place. And too bad if I wander sometimes in obscure projects: I lose in money and notoriety what I win in originality."' He sighs, smiling at the memory of the American blockbusters "not even unworthy" that he has refused, F. F. Coppola and Ridley Scott: "I've missed some good chances to make myself rich. I don't regret it because, instead, I've been able to help with some provocative and original works."

Far From Men whispers its small universal music. "Before, I was an Algerian for the French," begins Viggo Mortensen. "Today, I am a Frenchman for the Algerians." This volatile position is not foreign to him. "In Argentina, I'm at home. As in Denmark or in New York. But I remain aware, having often experienced it, that nothing ever remains the same. Life, it's this game whose rules change at the same time as you participate. If you refuse to go forward, gradually, you will be excluded from the match".

He never ceases to learn. "My house is the Atlas mountains or the Iceland ice, the forest, the rivers or the sea, the stars, the setting sun. If I stop one day, I die. You must make the difference between loneliness and isolation: between the two, I see a road that can take me farther than I would dare imagine. And wherever this leads me, I still want to take it!" A look back, around the year 2000, when glory fell on his royal shoulders christened by J. R. R. Tolkien and the hobbits, brings him back to Earth. "This path, I see it as a challenge, with its joys, its failures, its surprises. Nothing has discouraged me altogether. Incidentally, I am still toying with the idea of making my own film. Because cinema is above all the geographical map of a daring journey, with its fundamental circus, its complete galaxies of artists... Wherever it is on this planet, I am willing." Have no fear.

© 24 Heures. Images © Michael Crotto/One World Films.

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Viggo Mortensen Seduces at the Romea

Translation by Ollie and Zoe
Source: Núvol.
Found By: Chrissie
Solos at Teatre Romea, Barcelona - 23 February 2015
Solos at Teatre Romea, Barcelona - 23 February 201....
© Teatre Romea.

Many thanks to Ollie, with assistance from Zoe, for translating the review at Núvol of Viggo's recent Solos performance:

by Griselda Oliver

Viggo Mortensen bares himself in front of the audience. "For me, music and poetry together mean something. When I feel something, I write. When I write, I think of a melody," he confesses at one point during the show. This is the essence of this Solos cycle programmed by the Romea Theatre, getting the protagonist of the event to face the audience. Viggo Mortensen, accompanied by pianist Rafel Plana, had to seduce a packed room that was impatiently waiting for him.

With a confident air, Viggo Mortensen moves freely around the stage. Like a bard who entertains his listeners, the actor begins to read in Spanish, English, and even in Catalan. Seated on a stone, he reads the first of his poems. It's about freedom. Another one about his childhood memories comes next. And others, about one's path in life, fate and time flying. He also reads one, written a long time ago, called "Matinee," that has to do with the acting profession. Meanwhile, Rafel Plana accompanies him with music. At Mortensen's request, he plays Aleksandr Scriabin´s Opus 6 for us. Being in Barcelona makes him think of his first time here; it was in 1995 for the shooting of Gimlet, directed by José Luís Acosta. It was then that he wrote a poem called "Otoño catalán."

During the evening, Viggo Mortensen takes the opportunity to remember some of his favourite poets. For example, he reads poems by Fabián Casas, like, for instance, "Sin llaves y a oscuras" [Without Keys and in the Dark], one by Bosnian poet Izet Sarajilic, or "Elogi de la discreció "[In Praise of Discretion], by Catalan poet Anna Rossell. With this last poem, the audience surrenders completely to the actor and applauds with great enthusiasm.

With this solo, the actor shows us that with a simple repertoire, a bold and self-assured air, he's able to captivate and entertain an audience enthusiastic at being able to see him perform live. Sic transit gloria mundi.

On leaving the performance, you could buy Viggo Mortensen's book Canciones de invierno as well as the CD, which can still be purchased at the Filmoteca's Bookshop. The money raised will go to help the Centre de Música i Escena per la Inclusió Social Xamfrâ [Music and Stage Centre for Social Inclusion], in the Raval neighbourhood.

© Images © Teatre Romea.

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Last edited: 14 April 2015 14:29:49