A lucky costumier purchased Viggo's Hidalgo costume this week, and it reminded me that the clothes Viggo wears in his films almost evolve a personality of their own. The right costume is one of the most crucial elements in helping an actor fully become a character. They have to become part of that character and also a confortable part of the actor. They have to transcend being 'costumes' and become everyday clothes. With Viggo, there is a long process of wearing them in and, more often than not, putting his own stamp on them. Something will be added, some little detail springing from the insights into a character that only an actor fully engaged in the transformation process would have.
© 20th Century Fox Espana/New Line/Touchstone/Buena Vista Pictures/Focus Features
'You can show up the first day and say "Hi, everybody, where's my clothes?" and put your clothes on and just start. It's certainly possible. But I find that if there's time to break them in and make them comfortable, make them second nature... You know, if you see a cowboy in a movie and he puts his feet up and the soles of his boots look brand-new, it's possible that he's just gotten them re-soled. But still, it's a detail, visually, that you would notice. Likewise, you would notice that they're broken in. But more than anything, it's just to get comfortable and get a jump on the character.'
By Tasha Robinson
10 March 2004
...for the first few days of the shoot, he slept in his clothes to stay in role. He paid attention to every detail. If his shoes weren't wet enough, he would spray himself. He was totally absorbed and obsessed with the part. He became The Man."
Steve Schwartz. (Producer)
Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009
In the book he says: 'I'd been in West Point, like my father, but I found it boring'. While the hairstyle, gun, saddlebag, riding positions are based on the photos of that period; it was me who added the dandy touches to him; the gilet, the Victorian manners, formalistic as well as brutal, he can't erase them.
Appaloosa - 5 Questions For Viggo Mortensen
By Antonella Catena - translated by Ewa
16 January 2009
"As Nikolai - Viggo Mortensen needed to be intimidating, yet there was a limitation because technically he is a chauffeur for the family. So the trick was to dress him in a suit and tie - dress shirt, coat and gloves - and smart sunglasses, all of which had convey that there is more to him. He would just absorb the character when he put the clothes on - even the shoes helped him get into it."
Denise Cronenberg, Costume Designer
Eastern Promises Production Notes
20 August 2007
"...she came up with the clothes and we just sort of fine tuned and picked particular kinds of shoes and suits. And it was - the outward - you know, the presentation outwardly of a character is obviously very important, especially because so much is concealed within. And the hair, the squareness and the certain rigidity and streamline look to the hair, the clothes, sunglasses, the watch, the - you know, all went with the posture and the behavior. It was all of a piece, but it was done in complete collaboration which I really enjoy."
Viggo Mortensen Talks Eastern Promises
By Andre Rivas
December 24, 2007
Did putting on that [Nazi] uniform have any effect on you? Was it more than just a costume?
It ended up being, yeah; in a way that I didn't expect. It just kind of snuck up on me because I'd been trying on all the other ones when we had the fitting, and then I put it on and I said, "Oh the boots are - I guess they fit. They're all right." Then the pants. It's, like, "I don't know. Is this the way they're supposed to fit?" "Yeah. It looks right." "What about the jacket? It feels strange around the shoulders." "No, it looks good. Can you lift your arms? Yeah. It's fine." "Really? "Cause it feels funny. The hat feels like it's too small." "No it's not."
And I'm not like a fussy person; really, I want it to work. To all eyes it was perfect as it should be, but there was something about each piece of clothing I put on that seemed - it didn't fit right or something...I've learned over the years that when there's something that's not working, whether it's a scene in general or text, sometimes, you do have to rewrite something or change the way of doing a scene, but it's always worth trying at least once to befriend it instead of fighting what doesn't work. So I thought, "OK, what can be good about this?
Well, maybe it's OK to feel uncomfortable wearing this uniform. Just trust that.
Viggo talking about Good
Viggo Mortensen - For The Good Of The People
By Elliot V Kotek
Moving Pictures, Winter 08-09
The thing is that Viggo looks very uncomfortable in it, which means Halder looks very uncomfortable in it, and isn't that kind of the point?
Good - The Costume Review
By Kristin M Burke
5 January 2009
How did you approach your characters and which aspects did you identify with?
I had lots of things in mind, but there are some that you can't be aware of, things that come to you or that you have inside and it's a question of finding them. Among the superficial things, the writings, the paintings, the geographical locations, the language as it is spoken in certain parts of Spain. And the practice of moving in those boots with heels, that hat, that cape, the weapons (the sword hanging from the belt), spinning around, walking, running, jumping. That is to say, a bunch of things to find a way to seem like a natural person who's comfortable with those things, and that way of speaking, of walking and all of that.
Alatriste Carries A Load: Three Million Readers
By Oscar Ranzani - translated by Remolina, Ollie, Rio, Sage and Zooey
Pagina 12 (Argentina)
31 March 2007
What was the physical training like for this role?
I worked not only for the swords, including the "vizcaína", but also to get used to the character. I went to the sword fighting rehearsals with those boots, the hat, the cape, to get used to handling the cape, to swirl it around, just like the "gauchos", that's where it comes from.
Viggo Mortensen ZonaCinemania Interview
By - transcribed/translated by Graciela
29 March 2007
'On the reservation, I rode with some Lakota people, and there was this amazing stallion that was the father of most of the horses we were riding that day. He was quite old and he had a heart attack; he just fell down and died. And they had a ceremony. They cried and sang and made a prayer and made tobacco offerings, and eventually, they got the horse home and buried it on this hill. Then we sat out that night and made a fire. It was summer, so we were outside, and they just told stories - as though it was a human that had died in the family - about this horse. Odd things that had happened to him, funny things, sort of like a wake, where they could unburden themselves. It was really beautiful. I was given a hank of hair from his tail, and I used that to make the hatbands for my hats in Hidalgo ....one braid for each hat. You know, I had double hats, in case one got messed up. And usually people don't think about this, but you're in different terrain, and the dust is different colors, so I had different hats for different periods, as the hat got more worn out through the story. So I had to make more than one braid, because we jumped back and forth throughout the sequences. They made these really nice hats, and I broke them each in and made a headband for each one. That makes you feel more involved. Until you start shooting, and you get your feet wet, it's just a way to get into it, and to connect with a role. And it's something that a guy like that might have made.'
Viggo Mortensen talking about Hidalgo
By Tasha Robinson
10 March 2004
Viggo paced up and down and said, "Do you think we could just put a few more ties on these boots?" And in that moment - I had known the first time he put that costume on that it was ten times better on him and that was actually to do with the amount of - just Viggo's experience and age and life. He imbued that costume with its own life. The terrifying thing for me was that I might have an actor who simply wanted to get rid of it, but he did not do that.
He just wanted to add to it. I was in love with Viggo from the beginning. (laughs)
Ngila Dickson on Viggo trying on the Aragorn costume
Lord of the Rings
You got so close to Aragorn's character that even when you were not filming, you wore parts of your costume...
That's how I work. I always wear an accessory of my character during filming. On Hidalgo, for instance, I never took off my character's boots. On Lord of the Rings, it was even more important, because having arrived after they had started filming, I needed to become Aragorn immediately, to wear the costume as naturally as my own face. So it's true, I wore some of his clothes all of the time, and also I often carried my sword around between takes. But Peter Jackson encouraged us all to immerse ourselves in the film to make this epic as real as possible.
Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
By Juliette Michaud
Who knows, perhaps it was because [Viggo] washed and repaired Aragorn's clothes himself that he so perfectly came to inhabit them-to a point, indeed, where the costume seemed almost to blend with his body. [pause] You know, I really do think that particular costume is incredibly beautiful. It seems funny, perhaps, to talk about something that is so worn and broken down, so darned and patched, as being beautiful-but it is to me.
The Making of the Movie Trilogy