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Viggo Mortensen on heroism: 'You don't have to go save 13 people in a cave in Thailand to do the right thing'


Source: Yahoo News.
Found By: Lindi


Our thanks to Lindi for the find.






Quote:

Viggo Mortensen as Rick Stanton in 'Thirteen Lives'

Joshua Rothkopf

Even as the actual event was unfolding, you knew the 2018 Thai cave rescue — a gripping real-life story of ingenuity and international cooperation with a happy ending — would become a Hollywood movie. But we should count ourselves lucky that the resulting film is Thirteen Lives, directed by a consummate pro, Ron Howard, and starring the flinty, always-interesting Viggo Mortensen as Richard "Rick" Stanton, the no-nonsense British cave diver who devised a daring plan that resulted in all lives being saved. We spoke with Mortensen, 63, about his attachment to the story, his preparation for the role, and his deeper thoughts about inspiration and heroism.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You've played one of the most iconic heroes in literature, J.R.R. Tolkien's Aragorn, but what I like about your Rick Stanton is that he's not iconic. There's something very rough-edged and cranky about him — an unlikely hero — and it's fascinating watching you perform this. Was that part of the appeal of the role for you?

VIGGO MORTENSEN: It's interesting that you compare him to Aragorn. There are similarities. Both can be a little gruff, but they're very direct: men of few words, men who are determined to do the right thing. They're both working within a team. Both stories are about a collective effort, a selfless effort, for the common good, for the good of all people on the planet. Or, in the case of Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth.

Meanwhile, our whole planet has heard about the Thai cave rescue. Does being in a movie like Thirteen Lives go beyond character?

My main reason to do it was what this story says about us as human beings, about our potential to do good. It's about the best of us. Because this is a story where hundreds, thousands of people got together, not just these divers from Great Britain, but all kinds of people, especially in Thailand, for all the right reasons. Not to make money, not to gain territory, not to beat someone at something competitively.

Sadly, that's not the kind of story we hear a lot about these days, even from Hollywood.

We do live in polarized times. There's a lot of conflict, a lot of modeling by leaders, whether they be in politics or the corporate world, entertainment, sports — not just in the U.S., but around the world. Examples of selfishness and greed and super-competitive behavior, dishonesty. And people are getting rewarded for that. You have people, especially young people going, "Maybe that's the way to be. Look at that guy, he's got the cars, he's got the girls," or, "Look at her, she got all the attention she wants, all the money." But every once in a while something happens that's remarkable, where a lot of people get together and do things for all the right reasons.

Thirteen Lives also dramatizes a victory for science and problem-solving.

You're right about science. There's a very methodical approach to what Rick did and what others did as to how to get them out. It was just a massive effort. Every aspect of the story is too good to be true. It beggars belief. And yet, that is how it happened. It did happen.

I sometimes had to remind myself while watching it: This really happened.

I remember as a kid seeing Apollo 11, when they landed on the moon, it's like, "God, they did that," or the rescue of the miners in Chile. Where there's a will, there's a way, because human beings certainly have the ingenuity, the bravery, the ability to show compassion, to sacrifice. This is massive, active, effective volunteerism. And we could be doing this a lot more.

You bring up Apollo 11 — Thirteen Lives reminds me of Ron Howard's Apollo 13 for its bristly character moments, people caught in extremis. Talk to me about what it was like meeting Rick. Is he like that?

He is like that, certainly when you first meet him. We arranged to meet by Zoom and he wasn't saying a lot and we just started tentatively. But then he warmed up. I think it's just a matter of trust, the way he doesn't like to waste words or energy. Once he realized that my interest was in getting it right and portraying him as accurately as I could, then he opened up. Over a period of months, we were Zooming several days a week for hours. But yeah, he's not the easiest person to get to know. He calls it like it is, even if it hurts people's feelings. He says what he thinks.

"I don't even like kids," you grumble in the movie, and it's a big laugh line. Meanwhile, when you're in something like Green Book, you're behind the wheel of a beautiful car, you're gulping down pizzas. Or in David Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future, you're hanging out with Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart. This film, on the other hand, feels like it was a lot of physical labor, swimming and diving. Talk to me about the sheer stamina of doing this.

It was a strenuous job for all of us who were diving in this story. What you see on screen is just a small fraction of what we shot. I became certified to scuba dive about 25, 26 years ago. It was when I was preparing to do G.I. Jane [1997]. There was a sequence that was going to happen underwater and we ended up not shooting that. So I had to re-certify and get familiar with it again. But now it wasn't in open water. If you came up to the surface, there's no sky above you. Two feet above you is just rock, and you better get through this passageway or you're not going to come out. It was time consuming, energy consuming, but all the actors wanted to do it. We spent countless hours underwater. I was sad when I said goodbye to the last tunnel and eventually took my gear off and had to turn in my harness and my tanks. I was like, "These are my friends."

Were those tunnels built for the film?

They built it. There was this enormous airplane hangar-type building — these huge, double Olympic-size tanks — and they would build these long sections of tunnel. And then they would flood it, put 20 feet of water in there. We would practice for a day for several hours to figure out how to get through. While we were doing the weeks of shooting in that part, they would be building the next section in another hangar. We'd finish that and then the following week, we'd try that. Each one by degree got more difficult. If they'd given us the fourth or fifth section to do the first week, we wouldn't have known to do it. It would've been too hard.

Have there been moments in your life where you feel like you've heard that call to become a hero, and do you mind sharing one with me?

I don't know if I'm comfortable doing that, but everybody has situations, moments. It's all a question of choice, freewill. There are moments where — it can be as simple as you bump into someone walking down the street, you have the choice to turn around and say, "Excuse me," or not do anything and pretend it didn't happen. You have the choice to stop and apologize and make amends, or just move on. It's just little things. It's compassion.

Those are the things that people are called on every day. You don't have to go save 13 people in a cave in Thailand to do the right thing. When I say there should be more of the volunteerism and more collective thinking, I just mean your day-to-day, how you deal with people, especially people that you don't necessarily agree with politically. How do you behave? What's your tone of voice? Do you listen to others who differ in their opinions from you? It's just that stuff.

© Yahoo News. Images © MGM.

How Viggo Mortensen Transformed into the Cave Diver Who Rescued a Thai Soccer Team


Source: Outside.
Found By: Chrissie

Thanks to Chrissie for the find.




Quote:

In the new film ’Thirteen Lives,’ the Hollywood A-lister plays Rick Stanton, the British diver who helped lead the effort to save 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in Thailand’s Tham Luang cave.

By Paddy O’Connell

In June 2018, the rescue of twelve boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Northern Thailand captivated the world. Over the course of 18 days, thousands of volunteers, including more than 100 divers, helped in the effort to extricate the soccer team amid monsoon rains. Not surprisingly, Hollywood was enthralled too: Tinseltown’s best screenwriter couldn’t have dreamt up such a miraculous series of events with high stakes and a plot thicker than boxed mashed potatoes. Plus it had unexpected heroes at the center of it: a bunch of geeky, middle-aged dudes from England who spend their weekends cave diving.

Five years later, Ron Howard, the famed director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, is releasing Thirteen Lives, a big-budget account of the rescue—it hit theaters on July 29 and will start streaming on Amazon Prime on August 5. The movie’s star? Aragorn, er, Viggo Mortensen, the Hollywood A-lister with three Oscar nominations. He plays a retired firefighter from Coventry, England, named Rick Stanton, who led the group of British and Australian divers who carried out the rescue. “These guys are the biggest nerds in the world and, at the same time, they’re all like Evil Knievel. It’s kind of a weird combination,” Mortensen told me over a press junket Zoom call. Mortensen’s career is dog-eared with daring, quietly strong characters, all of whom he spends months exhaustively researching. But transforming into Stanton was one of his biggest acting challenges yet.

Before he was at the center of one of the most publicized news stories of the decade, Stanton was already one of the world’s best cave divers. At the time of the rescue in 2018, he was 57 years old, had plunged to record-setting depths in the world’s largest caves, and had made multiple successful rescues and body retrievals in Mexico and around Europe with his diving partners, including John Volanthen (who is played by Colin Farrell in the film), Jason Mallinson (played by Paul Gleeson), Dr. Richard Harris (played by Joel Edgerton), and Chris Jewell (played by Tom Bateman). “From the cave diving community, there is such respect for Rick,” Mortensen says. “He’s a Zen master of this discipline. Nobody is more focused and more well-prepared to deal with the unknown than he is.”

Mortensen first learned about Stanton and his heroism when the rest of us did, glued to his television set watching the rescue unfold in 2018. When he first read the script, he was eager to portray a complex, brash man at the center of such an astonishing endeavor. And Mortensen knows how to fully commit to truthful portrayals of his characters. To become a Russian mobster in David Cronenberg’s 2007 film Eastern Promises, he traveled to Russia to read Russian novels and stayed in prison-gang-tattoo make-up while on set in London (and while frequenting a neighboring Russian restaurant, which, of course, completely freaked out all the diners). He got his open water scuba diving certification because of a single underwater scene in G.I. Jane, which eventually ended up on the cutting room floor. And he studied sword fighting so intently for The Lord of the Rings that legendary stunt coordinator (and former Olympic fencer) Bob Anderson said he was the best swordsmen he’d ever trained.

After he got the role, the actor applied his rigorous research methods to Stanton. Before shooting began, he spent close to five months talking to Stanton, building a rapport, and uncovering his quirks, including the slight variations of his speech. “He’s from Essex originally,” Mortensen says. “But he’s been living in Coventry for years, so it’s this sort of blended accent.” He read an advanced copy of Stanton’s 2022 book, Aquanaut: The Inside Story of the Thai Cave Rescue, in which Stanton describes himself as a grumpy old man with a life designed to avoid children and meaningless professional work. In the process, Mortensen started to grasp Stanton’s personality: gruff and confident, but devoid of hubris. “There’s a certain curtness,” Mortensen says of Stanton. “He’s not a man of a lot of words. He does things rather than talks about them.”

Those qualities were exactly what was needed during the chaos of the 2018 cave rescue. The Tham Luang cave in Northern Thailand is nearly six and a half miles of narrow tunnels and chambers that weave into the Doi Nang Non mountains. After the twelve boys and their soccer coach entered the cave to explore in mid-June 2018, unexpected monsoon rains fell without warning and flooded the cave with millions of gallons of water. When it was discovered that the boys and their coach never came out of the cave, officials called the Thai Navy SEALs to coordinate a rescue. Thousands of volunteers from all over Thailand (and a handful of other countries) arrived to help. They set up pumps, constructed dams, and tried to divert water any way they could. But it seemed hopeless. The water was so murky and fast-moving that the SEAL divers, who had little-to-no experience navigating flooded caves, couldn’t see more than a few inches in front of them. Navy SEAL Captain Arnont Sureewong (played by Tui Thiraphat Sajakul) died in an effort to reach the kids, and time was running out. So the Thai government contacted the only people who could possibly help: Stanton and his scruffy team of divers.

“Four middle-aged men wandering around with all this equipment and being the heroes of the day. How preposterous it must have looked from the outsiders looking into the rescue,” Stanton jokingly told me over another press junket call. “How preposterous was it that there was a 57-year-old man flown out from England to take part in this rescue. It does seem a bit far-fetched.”

During their Zoom calls, Stanton showed Mortensen photos and diagrams of the cave, the rescue, and his equipment, most of which Stanton had built and fabricated for years on his at-home lathe. “The equipment we use is very bespoke. It’s often homemade. It’s very esoteric,” Stanton tells me. “There’s a British phrase ‘men in sheds’—people who spend their time in sheds making things or inventing things. We are all geeky men in sheds who came forward and saved the day.”

Mortensen spent the winter before shooting began for Thirteen Lives at his home in Spain. To get a leg up on preparation, Stanton told Mortensen he could arrange a mountain cave exploration with some Spanish friends. Mortensen immediately agreed. He can’t recall how many watery miles into the earth they waded but far enough that he nervously wondered if anyone else was concerned about the cave crumbling atop them. “Then we get to this rock wall,” Mortensen recalls. “I said, ‘So, this is the end of the line.’ And my guide goes, ‘No, this is just the beginning.’” The guide asked if Mortensen was game to continue the dive. “I said, ‘No, absolutely not.’” But, the next day, Mortensen followed the guide into a longer underwater tunnel. “It gave me a taste for what we were going to do for the movie,” Mortensen says. “That was really helpful. The rock was the same, the conditions, the tight spots, the current, all that.”

When they finally met in-person on the film’s set in Australia, Mortensen learned Stanton’s physical movements. “I studied the way he walks, the way he puts on his equipment, the way he presents himself to others,” says Mortensen. “The way he sort of stands back and doesn’t offer his opinion unless it’s absolutely necessary.” Mortensen was even able to perfectly replicate Stanton’s slow, precise underwater swimming and breathing techniques, including his specialized frog kick in which his legs push water out rather than back and down so that no sediment is disturbed.

I couldn’t help but ask Stanton what it felt like to be portrayed by such a beloved actor, who just so happens to be stupidly good-looking. “It’s not going to do me any harm, is it?” he replied. All jokes aside, Stanton said he and Mortensen became friends over the months of calls and shooting, and he was impressed by Mortensen’s commitment to researching the role.

When it came time to film, Stanton was on set as technical advisor, working with designers, cinematographers, and the film’s dive supervisor, Andrew Allen, to ensure the cave and the rescue were depicted as accurately as if it had been filmed in Tham Luang (which wasn’t possible due to the pandemic). Though the set had to accommodate space for underwater cinematographers, director Ron Howard and his crew perfectly recreated the cave sections Stanton and his fellow rescuers said were the most difficult. Even the unshakable Stanton was in awe of the movie-making magic. “That is their craft, to be able to mimic what they see with uncanny accuracy,” he tells me. “The diving scenes, they do look like professional cave divers.”

However, for Mortensen, the set was a little too realistic. “There were times where it was so narrow, I said, ‘Rick, I can’t get through there,’” Mortensen says of shooting in the cave recreations. “And he’d say, ‘Yes, you can. Think about it. How would you do it?’” The answer: Mortensen would have to take the air cylinder off his back while keeping the rebreather in his mouth, push the tank through the tight hole first, and follow it, squeezing and wriggling his body through the rocky opening. Yikes.

It is this granular attention to detail that makes Thirteen Lives, and particularly Mortensen’s portrayal of Stanton, a triumph. Mortensen becomes Rick Stanton, one of the world’s greatest cave divers, a man who feels the hefty yoke of moral obligation and the burden of responsibility to save thirteen souls stranded in a cave chamber miles under a mountain.

At the end of our interview, I jokingly ask Mortensen if he’ll quit acting and become a full-time cave diver. “No,” he laughs. “I like being in the water, but I’d rather have the sky above when I come to the surface.”

© Outside Interactive Inc.. Images © MGM Pictures.

Lovely interview with Viggo and Joel Edgerton from ComingSoon.net


Found By: Chrissie


Thanks to Chrissie for the find.


© Comingsoon.net.

Why Viggo Mortensen Recycled ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’ Premiere Shirt for ‘Thirteen Lives’ Screening: “It Was Absolutely Intentional”


Source: Hollywood Reporter.
Found By: Chrissie

Thanks to Chrissie for the find in the Hollywood Reporter.





Custom made to match a United Nations flag, Mortensen pulled the sky blue silk shirt out of his closet to promote the power of unity and collective efforts for the "common good."

by Chris Gardner


Viggo Mortensen turned up to Thursday night’s Thirteen Lives premiere in Westwood wearing the same shirt he donned for the London premiere of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on Dec. 11, 2003. Make no mistake — the red carpet déjà vu moment was “absolutely intentional.”

Under a midnight blue suit, Mortensen wore a sky blue silk shirt modelled after a United Nations flag that he had custom-made nearly two decades ago.

“[Thirteen Lives] is a story about a selfless, international collective effort to save ordinary people —12 kids and a coach. The world came together and did something like that, not for political gain, not for money, but because it’s the right thing to do,” the actor told The Hollywood Reporter of the Ron Howard-directed film, a narrative recreation of the 2018 dramatic rescue in a Thailand cave. “Those things seem to be much more popular than collective efforts for the common good so I thought, well, I’m going to wear this shirt.”

When he put it on for Peter Jackson’s Return of the King U.K. debut, he was sending a sartorial message then, too. “Because that is a story about people from different cultures coming together for the common good,” he said of the third instalment of Jackson’s blockbuster franchise about the battle between good and evil for the fate of Middle Earth. “So, I thought I would bring it out of the closet to wear it again.”

The common good kept rolling off his tongue so it seemed an obvious question to ask Mortensen how he navigates the increasingly fractured state of affairs in the world. While he admits it’s challenging, stories like Thirteen Lives and its happy ending remind him of the power in unity. Playing real life rescue diver Rick Stanton, he stars opposite Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton and Tom Bateman in the MGM/UA/Bron/Prime Video film, now in theaters.

“I lose my temper all the time and try not to give up on the idea that human beings are not inherently evil because sometimes it feels that way,” he explains. “I’m hopeful. Stories like [Thirteen Lives] remind me of that because it’s a real thing, and it happened just a few years ago.”

“People can do the right thing,” he continues. “People can be compassionate and look past culture, language, race, socioeconomic status and say, ‘No. This is the right thing. Let’s all pull together and do this. Nobody will make any money and we may die trying but it’s the right thing to do.’ I wish there was a lot more of that happening in the world.”

© Hollywood Reporter.

More Images from Last Night in LA!




There are a bazillion more images from last night in LA. Here are some of the best.


















© Getty.


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Last edited: 8 September 2022 18:04:16