"We want the cup" said the hand-painted poster that Viggo Peter Mortensen Jr. [New York, 1958] hoisted in front of the cameras every time he could at the last Cannes Festival. It didn't matter if he was wearing the obligatory tuxedo on the red carpet or if he was up on stage for the world premiere of Jauja
, the film from the Argentinian Lisandro Alonso in which the actor is not only the lead character, but also the producer and the musician.
Film and soccer, the perfect combination for Mortensen. And in Jauja
, the two things were mixed together in an ideal way. Heading up the project was Alonso (responsible for films like La libertad
] and Los muertos
]) and Fabián Casas, a close friend with whom he's in charge of the blog www.sobrevueloscuervos.com
. "The basis is San Lorenzo, but we talk about a lot of other things: philosophy, film, art, visits to the dentist… And San Lorenzo!" Mortensen says in perfect Spanish, the same guy that appeared timidly on the big screen in 1985 when he played an Amish farmer in the movie, Witness
Return to Patagonia
For most people Viggo Mortensen, with his 5'11", mysterious appearance and seductive image - a subject that he doesn´t appreciate much, - appeared on screen with the new millenium embodying the brave Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings
. But before the popular saga that eventually elevated him to stardom, for years the actor had been playing supporting roles or betting on auteur films, like The Indian Runner
(the film that marked the debut of Sean Penn as a director in 1991.) Mortensen was far from the usual circle of the great Hollywood stars. What´s more, he didn´t seem to wish - then or now - to be part of that world. With a perspective that has gone beyond the world of acting, his artistic interests cover a wide range, from photography to art, writing and music.
The life of the actor has been and is a mixture. Son of a Danish father and American mother, the boy was born in New York, but from early childhood he moved between the United States, Venezuela, Argentina and Denmark. He keeps a powerful bond with Argentina. And not only because of his beloved soccer club. "I always feel at home when I return to Argentina," he says.
Mortensen was eleven years old when his parents divorced and he returned - along with his two brothers, today both geologists - from Argentina to New York. At Watertown High School, he would become a good student and a sports kid. Then he attended St. Lawrence University and after graduating, left for Denmark. There he was a writer of poetry as well as a flower vendor. Also a truck driver. In the Big Apple, he mixed employment in bars and restaurants with his acting classes. After three years of training, he joined the cast of Witness
, a film starring Harrison Ford. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Los Angeles. From the motion picture capital, his career did nothing but rise.
After years of international success, Mortensen is now returning to his Latin origins. And he's doing it with Jauja
, with the successful Argentine director, Lisandro Alonso, at the helm. The story focuses on a father and his fifteen year old daughter, both of Danish origin, who landed in the Argentine Patagonia during the 19th century. Then, the girl falls in love with a member of the company and runs away with him. That's when the anguished papa goes searching for her.
What did it mean to return to Argentina and film again in Spanish?
It's the fifth film that I've made in Spanish, but in this case it was quite special, because I am speaking Spanish the way my father did, with that strong accent that is a bit amusing for me. I was doing a scene and laughed and Lisandro didn't understand what was so funny. Besides, it was a landscape that I knew from my childhood. I learned to ride a horse there!
What connection did you feel with that landscape?
was special, because it was the countryside. There are places in Patagonia where I spent Christmas holidays. We always went camping for a week, sometimes two, and we went a long way in to fish with the car full of things. I remembered many beautiful scenes. I was ecstatic riding horseback, with a smile that no one could take from me. But I had to get rid of it when I was filming!