Quotable Viggo 2007-2009


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Quotable Viggo: 11 October 2009

It seems that this is the year that everyone is taking a good look at Viggo's long career as an actor. On Saturday BAFTA will be presenting his "Life in Pictures' which is following on the heels of other tributes we've seen over the last few months. Perhaps - with all the buzz about The Road - the industry has suddenly woken up to something that we've known here from the start - that Viggo has always been a great actor without ever being a movie "star'. That is, an actor who (when he has been able) has made daring personal choices, and who has always carried out his performances with a dedication to the material that is truly exemplary. Time to take a look back at Viggo's own thoughts on acting and what it takes to be at the top of your craft.

©New Line Cinema / Focus Features / Good Films / Estudios Picasso / Origen Producciones

"Dreams about becoming famous wasn't what got me into acting to begin with, but the dream about telling stories"

Dreaming About Telling Stories
By Einar Fal Ingolfsson - translated by Rosen and Ragga
29 May 2008
Source: Morgunblaðið

"...the one thing I always do, and I've always done from the beginning instinctively - because it's interesting, and it's the fun part, regardless of how the shoot goes, or what the result is of the movie - I can always count on the benefits of asking the question: "What happened between the cradle and page one for this character?" And that answer is endless, you know? It's as big an answer and as complicated and layered an answer as you want it to be. And I never stop working at that."

Viggo Mortensen
Scott Feinberg's awards season analysis
20 December 2007

Are you a disciplined actor, one of those that just obeys the director or are you one of those that asks many questions, constantly needing notes from the director?

Of the second kind... Any time of the day or night. I fry the director.

Viggo Mortensen
A Multi-talented Hero
Dominical, by J. A. - translated for V-W by NacidaLibre
27 August 2006

"I see a lot of people doing lots of work which could be good but isn't because they don't prepare enough. They don't give themselves enough time to digest the material and enough focus because they are thinking about the next job while you are doing another."

Viggo on why he has done so few films since LOTR
'Ordinary guy' role a treat for Mortensen
By Russell Baillie
New Zealand Herald
March 18 2006

"Immersion is essential for me. I consider each film like a new school."

Viggo Mortensen the Insatiable
By Sophie Benamon, Studio Magazine
November 2007

"A movie set is like a ritual, with all the trappings and preparation. I feel like when we go to a set and we rehearse - or not - and we're wearing these costumes and saying these words, it's like an invocation, an invitation to magic, to the unexplained, to let the unexpected to enter into our lives."

Viggo Mortensen
A Fantastic Leap of Faith
by Brent Simon
Entertainment Today, 2001

"I know people who prepare their roles in such a way that they technically look ahead and memorize their gestures, and then they stick to it. Those that are technically proficient enough can make it seem natural, but they do that and don't really take in what other people are doing. They can do a fine job sometimes. But I personally feel more comfortable, and feel that I'm more in the moment in terms of building a character that helps the director tell a story, if I prepare in advance, but then go with the flow of the moment. I think it was Sidney Lumet who said something I really agree with. Roughly: "The work is largely about making the best possible preparations for accidents to happen.""

Viggo Mortensen
Tasha Robinson
The Onion, 2004

"People talk about Method actors, meaning someone that's prepared very, very well, or whatever they mean when they talk about it. But the right method is whatever works for you. And what works for me on any given day is going to be different.'

Viggo Mortensen
Tasha Robinson
The Onion, 2004

"I've seen advertised, teachers saying, 'I'll show you how to not only win in auditions, I'll show you how to win every scene.' You can't win every scene. That's not even a goal. The goal isn't to win anything. The goal is to be there. That's how you tell a story. And so when you're thinking in terms of results, then you're skipping the reaction part, the foundation of good acting."

Viggo Mortensen
Good Fellow
by Jamie Painter Young
Backstage West, 5 January 2004

"I'm not in a hurry to [leave characters behind]. I appreciate other actors that say "it was difficult to shed the skin of this character'. I don't know what the hurry is. As far as I'm concerned, I don't see that it ruins my life to have gotten involved with the character I'm playing. Our memories are finite and they decrease in their efficiency over time as we get older, so what's the hurry to forget something you learned something from and you explored in an interesting way? I'm never in a hurry to shed it. I don't see it as a problem."

Goin' Fishin' with Viggo Mortensen
By Lynn Barker
Teen Hollywood
28 September 2005

"I've never been offered comedy and don't know why. But sometimes I subtly slip ironic touches into my roles."

Viggo Mortensen
A Multi-talented Hero
Dominical, by J. A. - translated for V-W by NacidaLibre
27 August 2006

"You supply the blue and they supply the other colours and mix them with your blue. And maybe there's some blue left in the painting and maybe there isn't. Maybe there wasn't supposed to be any there in the first place. So have some fun and make a good blue, and walk away. I try to do that. Sometimes I succeed."

Viggo Mortensen on acting
St. Lawrence University: March 1, 2003

It's customary to finish with an epilogue that recaps everything. Considering this, I have no choice but to ask Viggo to describe himself as an actor. Just one sentence, at the most, that encompasses his personality and his attitude. He reflects for a few minutes. "One sentence?" he says, scratching his chin. "I'm a guy who makes a fool of himself."

Viggo Mortensen: A Very Devilish Devil In The Prophecy
by Ferran Viladevall
La Opinión 1995

Quotable Viggo: 3 October 2009

There have been some fascinating discussions going on over on our Lord of the Rings thread about the differences between Book Aragorn and Movie Aragorn. Viggo lived Aragorn, on and off, for three years, and saw much in Tolkien's Ranger that he recognised in himself, until it became clear that Viggo and Aragorn had morphed into Viggorn - each bringing something valuable to the other. I thought it would be good to have another look at Viggo's take on "The greatest traveller and huntsman of his age of the world', Tolkien and all things kingly.

© New Line Productions Inc.

"I hope you feel to some degree Aragorn's sense of hesitation. On a practical level as an actor, that was already with me when I arrived in New Zealand. I had read enough on the plane to see that the character had misgivings about the burden of the undertaking. He feels the weight of other people's expectations; it's one thing for someone to tell you that you're capable but it's quite another for you to know it yourself. I felt that in Aragorn, and I felt it too as an actor: 'You've hired me 'cos you think I can do it but privately I'm not sure'."

Viggo Mortensen: A Method Actor in Middle-Earth
By Ryan Gilbey
The Independent
14 December 2001

"There is no character in this story, in these books, that has travelled more extensively and had more contact with other cultures, races, languages, and an appreciation and understanding of the differences of all the free peoples of Middle-earth. . . . He has an understanding that the most precious thing that any intelligent being possesses is free choice."

Viggo Mortensen
Playing the Hero Suits Mortensen Fine
Philadelphia Enquirer, 2002

'Despite his vast knowledge of the world, Aragorn always considers himself fallible. It is his internal conflicts that make him evolve.'

A Year in the Life of Viggo Mortensen
By Sophie Benamon
Studio Magazine
December 2003

"To suddenly come out of the closet and say, "This is who I am" - to no longer operate in hiding and keep leaving the scene like the Lone Ranger, to stand in one place undisguised and let others have access to you - is in some ways more frightening than fighting any army. That inner conflict is an interesting thing to portray. It's not always something that's written, or can be fully written."

Viggo Mortensen on Aragorn
The Man Who Would be King
By Scott Thill
Salon.com, 2003

"What people like Boromir and others initially saw as defects and weakness in Aragorn," says Mortensen, "prove to be his greatest strength. In other words his hesitation, his self-doubt, those really are his strengths because they have to do with compassion, they have to do with him considering whether he has a right to act. '

A Man Apart
By Ingrid Randoja
December 2003

'All the heroic characters in this story have faults, or if not faults, moments of doubt.

I think it should almost be a requirement that leaders in our world have self-doubt, that they display a certain hesitation in certain situations.'

A Sense of Finality
By Markus Tschiedert
Green Cine
17 December 2003

'I don't think Aragorn is naturally prone to fighting in the same sense that maybe Boromir was in the first story or Eomer is in this. He isn't, by nature, warlike.

The Elvish name his mother gives him at birth is Estel, which means hope. I think he basically has a sunny disposition, but it has been dampened over the years by what he has seen in the world. He is a skilled fighter who has taken on the fighting styles of the different places he has lived and fought in, but it's by virtue of necessity that he does it.'

Aragorn Explains the Whole Good-Evil Thing
By A. J.
E! Features
15 December 2002

'...he has this burden because he understands what happened in the past, how his forefathers, even the nobles and the bravest of them, screwed up and succumbed to the temptation of the ring and you know, he feels, almost I think, why should he do any better than them.'

Viggo's Big Time: Viggo Mortensen on Home, Hollywood and Hobbits.
By Robin Lynch
Air New Zealand magazine
December 2002

'In many ways I realized no matter how much I researched and drew from that, in the end my best resource and closest thing to what we were going through as characters was what we were going through as people."

Viggo Mortensen
Good Fellow, by Jamie Painter Young
Backstage West, 5 January 2004

"While Peter obviously cares a great deal for Tolkien's writing - otherwise he wouldn't have given so much of his life to it - what seems to have drawn him most as a filmmaker was the pure adventure aspect of the tale. The heroic sacrifice of individuals for the common good. All the breathtaking sequences - he really poured himself into those. The more I explored Tolkien, the more I felt I had two bosses: Tolkien and Peter Jackson. I tried my best to be loyal to both of them."

Viggo Mortensen
We Were All On an Epic Journey
by Jeff Giles
Newsweek magazine, 2001

'...as always, with any job I do, the other director is my own conscience. I felt a connection, as well as a responsibility, toward a lot of Tolkien's source material, particularly Nordic sagas and Scandinavian literature. I also looked at Celtic material ... samurai movies, certain samurai ethics ... even Westerns, anime characters..."

Holding Court with the King: Viggo Mortensen heralds the return of the renaissance man
By Gregory Weinkauf
East Bay Express
3 December 2003

'In the end, it really isn't about only Frodo, or only Gandalf, or only Aragorn, or what have you. You can be a fan of any one of the characters, but in the end I think you end up being a fan of all of them.'

Viggo Mortensen
Veni, Vidi, Viggo
by Bilge Ebiri
Yahoo Internet Life magazine, 2001

...there's a sense that pieces of Aragorn always will cling to the actor. As he says, "Aragorn is a work in progress, as we all are in an endless tale." The same could be said of Mortensen. And his story is destined to continue.

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

Quotable Viggo: 20 September 2009

I'm treating us again to the "mad as a snake' quote, which I posted last week, because it's set me thinking about all those occasions where our guy's combination of dedication beyond the call of duty, individuality and wacky sense of humour have proved that a little madness can be good for you. I thought this would make a fun quotable especially as Daniel Mirth's interview in this October's Men's Journal opens on much the same lines with the wonderful "losers dance'. It also gives me another chance to treat us to Aunt Tulles' wonderful comment. There's a knack to taking your work very seriously, without taking yourself seriously. I'm sure Viggo will never lose his capacity for spontaneous madness, whether at work or at play, while still remaining, as we all know, one of the sanest men on the planet.

© New Line Productions Inc

"There was little glamour about the shoot, least of all the scenes where Mortensen runs naked into the freezing sea. 'The insurance company told him not to do it,' smiles Penhall, 'but he's mad as a snake.'

Joe Penhall, novel adaptor
The Ultimate Road Movie
By Nick Roggick
London Evening Standard
4 September 2009

"Some supposedly great stars doubt you and call you and say. "Man, what are you doing?!' But Viggo went for the kill. He was the first one to throw himself into the cold water, into a filthy mud puddle, and the rest followed him.'

Agustín Díaz Yanes
The Lord of Simplicity
By Ernesto Garratt Vines - translated by Margarita
Wikén - El Mercurio
30 March 2007

'...it was a show of its own to see Viggo Mortensen, because he is such a perfectionist in his acting'. Anyway, he said that the actor, 'like all the great ones, is a bit crazy, and during the shooting Viggo believed he was Alatriste, and when he wasn't shooting, he still kept his sword and hat. I think he still believes he is Alatriste.'

'En España no hay suficientes actores jóvenes buenos para rodar "Alatriste'
By L.M.-L. Alatriste conference in Murcia
El Faro de Murcia

"...a fantastic crazy guy".

Javier Cámara
César Urrutia takes pictures, in the style of Velázquez...
Europa Press
Translation by Paddy
24 August 2006

'He's a really - I don't want to say strange - let's say unique - guy,' says Hopper, no stranger to the label himself. He first became friends with Mortensen when they worked on The Indian Runner together in 1991. 'He'll show up at your door barefoot. It's real with him - it's not an affectation. He is very much of the earth. He's relaxed and in the moment and he brings real emotions to the table. He's very human with great artistic sensibilities.'

Dennis Hopper
Super Natural
By Anna David
Daily Telegraph
30 November 2002

'Most People don't win, you know? So on the way out of the big auditorium, the Kodak, I went over to these people and said, "Hey, let's do a loser's dance.' I started jumping, and they were just horrified at this loss they just suffered, you know? There were these filmmakers from Canada who lost and actually agreed. And I think Michael Moore did the losers dance. But I would say 99% of the losers didn't want to do the losers dance. They all just sort of ran from me like I was shitfaced drunk or something.'

Viggo celebrating losing his Oscar
A History of Defiance
Daniel Mirth
Men's Journal
October 2009

'I played a painter and I needed to have all of this artwork around me, so I asked if I could do some paintings myself. I just went crazy. I couldn't sleep. I did about 45 paintings in two weeks.'

Viggo Mortensen on A Perfect Murder
The Hot New 39-Year-Old
by Dennis Hensley
Movieline magazine, 1998

"He's just such a loyal, kind, sweet-hearted man who's hilarious to be around and inspiring in all the things he achieves and sets out to do. I've certainly learned a lot from him. His perspective on life is beautiful too. He's a real lover of nature and a very giving and accepting man. And there's something about Viggo that's absolutely, completely insane and I find that very endearing. He really is mad."

Elijah Wood talking about Viggo Mortensen
By Desmond Sampson
New York City, NY
Pavement #62, Summer 2003-2004

'Viggo was working on this battle sequence. He got hit in the mouth and broke his front tooth. It was literally gone, and he found it on the floor. He was like, 'Get me some superglue, we've got to keep going.' That clearly describes Viggo. Everyone was like, 'No, no, we have to get you to a dentist.' And he was actually angry that they stopped filming to take him to a dentist.'

Elijah Wood
Ringleader - Viggo Mortensen
By Ian Nathan
January 2002

"We ran back and said, 'Everyone's got to see this.'" Bloom recalls. "I was having a Viggo moment - running out, getting people to come and check out the moon." Some decided to wade into the river, but Mortensen suggested the more perilous task of crossing the river. "I'm like, '**** off,' and he says, 'Come on.' So were barefoot, waist-high in water, walking on these little rocks to get to the other side and I'm doing it because I'm an idiot and I'm following his lead. Because he's an idiot. And because he's amazing," Bloom laughs. "I can't believe how much this is going to make it sound like I'm in love with the guy."

Orlando Bloom has a moon gazing moment
The Hero Returns
by Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

"...there are some silly-genes in our family, that he benefits from.'

Aunt Tulle on Viggo
Avisen.dk interview
15 October 2008

'There were some silly things which I felt were interesting that were cut out of that movie for reasons of whatever, shots didn't look right, or they wanted to speed the movie up. I think [the studio people] were afraid we were too kinda wacky. "It's the devil, man. You can't do stuff like that. I go, "What are you talking about? I can do anything I ***** want. '

Viggo Mortensen on The Prophecy
The Fire That Fuels an Artist's Heart
by Carnell
Carpe Noctem magazine #15, 1999

Despite his quirkiness, or maybe because of it, Mortensen, a 50 year old who has stubbornly resisted the formula for modern movie stardom, finds himself on of the last great leading men standing.

A History of Defiance
Daniel Mirth
Men's Journal
October 2009

How long would he like to live?

"Forever." Without hesitation.

Really? Wouldn't you get bored?

"There's no excuse to be bored," Mortensen says. "Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there is no excuse for boredom, ever."

Finding Viggo
by Alex Kuczynski,
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

Quotable Viggo: 13 September 2009

Well, things are really hotting up aren't they? After the dry season we now have a deluge of interviews, articles and photos to enjoy as The Road finally gets on the road. I've been pulling quotes that have really caught my eye. Not all of them are about The Road, but all have come from comments and observations made over the last couple of weeks. I think many of the ones below will become Quotable Classics. Enjoy!

© Dimension Films/2929
productions. Centre: Image Macall Polay

...he stashes chocolate on his person like a marsupial...

A History of Defiance
Daniel Mirth
Men's Journal
October 2009

...he's a soft spoken guy who can fill a digital recorder with wall-to-wall perspective.

Kris Tapley
In Contention
10 September 2009

That dude can say 5 different things with his face in one ten second take.

Ain't it Cool News
8 September 2008

When the elements, the weather and the terrain get tough, Viggo gets going.

Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

"He's very in the moment, definitely, right in the moment. When you see me running with him, and he's holding my hand and I trip over and all that, it's totally real. I was falling into thorns and stuff -- Aah! Aah! -- and he just drags me up and puts me on his shoulder. I'm like, Oh, my God."

Kodi Smit-McPhee
Viggo Mortensen: 'A Grown Man in an Era of Boys'
Jay A. Fernandez
Risky Biz
12 September 2009

"....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

'I was stripped down to the essentials," Mortensen said. "It's about character, about how you behave... when you have nothing left but your heartbeat and the heartbeat of your son."

Gina Doggett
3 September 2009

"Viggo has the perfect qualities as a man and as an actor to do this part. He's got incredible depth of soul.'

Nick Wechsler
Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

If anyone could survive in a post-apocalyptic world, the director says, it would be Viggo.

The Road
Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

"It is a Norwegian ghost story. It is called 'The Road to Resurrection.' I come back as a Viking ghost and he's in the Italian mob,"

Viggo plans a sequel to The Road with Kodi
'The Road' premieres at Venice
By Colleen Barry
Associated Press
3 September 2009

"There was little glamour about the shoot, least of all the scenes where Mortensen runs naked into the freezing sea. 'The insurance company told him not to do it,' smiles Penhall, 'but he's mad as a snake.'

Joe Penhall, novel adaptor
The Ultimate Road Movie
By Nick Roggick
London Evening Standard
4 September 2009

'...when I was watching the reel of clips, going back to the mid-eighties, I just went on a journey personally about where I was at the time. I'd look at Patricia Arquette [in 'The Indian Runner'] or Diane Lane [in 'A Walk on the Moon'] or how Al Pacino was in that moment [in 'Carlito's Way'], and just the things that happened that are beyond technical explanations, that magical thing that has to do with a leap of faith. And people go, 'How did you get to that place?'

And honestly, in some cases you don't know, we were lucky it happened. You just hope those things happen once in a while."

Viggo talking about the Telluride Film Festival Tribute
Viggo Mortensen: 'A Grown Man in an Era of Boys'
Jay A. Fernandez
Risky Biz
12 September 2009

When I ask him for his favourite joke he responds with a rare one-word answer: 'Me'.

A History of Defiance
Daniel Mirth
Men's Journal
October 2009

Quotable Viggo: 5 September 2009

It's Festival time again with Venice and Telluride filling our news pages and Toronto just around the corner. As always, the publicity, programme notes, interviews and comments result in an outpouring of accolades for our man. The relaxed Festival atmosphere also results in some rich humour and opportunities to meet colleagues and talk about new projects. Ed Harris gave Viggo Appaloosa to read while promoting A History of Violence at Toronto, and Viggo first met Cronenberg at Cannes while promoting The Lord of the Rings. Toronto, of course, dominates the quotes - after all, Viggo has now been there so many times he's practically Canadian. Festivals can also pull out some surprises - at Cannes and Rome Viggo had to call on his inner Aragorn and save people for real. One thing is for certain, Festivals are never boring!

A HoV: Cannes Film Festival Premiere - May 16, 2005.
© French Premiere Magazine.

The Road - Telluride 2009

With so many of Hollywood's movie stars seeming like overgrown kids, Viggo Mortensen is the rare American actor who is both muscular and humane, tough and sensitive, fighter and lover. He seduces us with a thread of danger, his chiselled Nordic physique and stunning blue eyes.

36th Telluride Film Festival Program Guide
September 2009

The Road - Venice 2009

A bleak Viggo Mortensen, his face etched like an El Greco painting, urgently and convincingly conveys his character's love and desperation...

By Fionnuala Halligan
Screen Daily
Venice Film Festival
3 September, 200

Good - Rome 2009

Mortensen has got himself onto the subject of politics and personal responsibility and he is quietly rapping away. It has rhythm, it has blues: you almost feel like tapping your feet. Not a grandiose oration, nor a preachy lecture (or one you can actually stop or interrupt) but his audience nevertheless starts to feel a creeping sense of guilty moral turpitude.

Viggo at the Rome Film Festival
Mr Good Bard
Sydney Morning Herald
28 February 2009

Good - Toronto 2008

In contrast to the prancing egos on display at the TIFF, the undisputed hero this year has been charismatic, versatile and totally charming Viggo Mortensen ...in the electrifying German-British co-production Good, my favorite film of the festival, even this mesmerizing chameleon, who has proved he can play anything, surprised the hell out of audiences, who emerged stunned.

What Has Happened to the Toronto Film Festival?
Rex Reed
The New York Observer
9 September 2008

Appaloosa - Deauville 2008

"I'm really honoured and privileged to introduce to you a man of conviction, of compassion, intelligence, artistic integrity, a great actor and a fine citizen of the world, a man I'm proud to call my friend : Viggo Mortensen."

Ed Harris introducing Viggo at Deauville
With thanks to Dom and Ellie
13 September 2008

Appaloosa - Toronto 2008

They love each other, said Harris, even if they might never say those exact words. It's a deep, complex friendship, though don't expect it to unravel like the one between the cowboys in Brokeback Mountain.

Said Mortensen: "They cut those scenes."

Appaloosa: TIFF press conference diaries
by Mark Medley
National Post
September 05, 2008

'...I had someone grow it for me," he replied. "There's a beard stubble farm, as it happens, just north of Sante Fe where they grow the best beard stubble in the world.... They use a rare ... kind of mountain goat turd they put on it and when it was ready, they knocked me out with some kind of weird peyote stuff and sewed it on."

Viggo on his beard
Appaloosa: TIFF press conference diaries
by Mark Medley
National Post
September 05, 2008

At the Toronto International Film Festival, I passed a mysteriously perturbed Viggo Mortensen waiting for an elevator on my floor, and he looked like a man who'd never had a milkshake in his life...

Harris, Mortensen Get To Clean Things Up In This Western
By Jeff Simon
3 October 2008
Source: Buffalo News

Eastern Promises - Toronto 2007

Asked about his preparation for the [fight] scene, Mortensen said, 'I was paid a great deal of money.'

Added Cronenberg: 'When we started to shoot the scene we were surprised to discover that Viggo has no genitals so we had to CG them in.'

'I had to give some of the money back,' said Mortensen.

'It was very expensive CG,' Cronenberg explained.

Viggo and Cronenberg's double act
Tiff Press Conference
By Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
8 Sept 2007

In the throes of the Toronto International Film Festival (which ends today), Geoffrey Rush sat on the edge of a couch in a hotel room and began celebrating the fine work of his fellow performers....

"Viggo Mortensen gives a great screen performance," said Rush, using Mortensen's turn as a Russian mobster as an example of the endangered power of screen acting.

"He's completely inside his imaginative world, creating a character using invisible technique. There's a great kind of personal stamp that's idiosyncratic for the character. He explores extreme parameters within the character on his own terms and therefore creates something entertaining and thrilling for an audience to get involved with on their own imaginative level."

It was unsolicited praise from a gifted performer - and deserved.

Naked Viggo Mortensen: Artist At Work
By Lisa Kennedy
The Denver Post
16 September 2007

Alatriste - Toronto 2006

The riveting Viggo Mortensen is ideally cast as Alatriste, a noble soldier of very few words and very large actions....Mortensen is astonishing, channelling the very essence of Alatriste's fiery integrity.

Diana Sanchez
Toronto Film Festival Promo
Aug 2006

'I have just left the Ryerson Theatre, where I fear I have contracted a serious case of Viggomania - a condition characterized by fever, light-headedness, and general idiocy when Ultimate Man Viggo Mortensen is in the vicinity.'

Viggo, we love you, yeah yeah yeah
By Michelle Devereaux
Totonto International Film Festival
September 2006

Alatriste - Rome 2006

Viggo who was in town to boost the film pulled a little off-duty heroism of his own on the street in Rome when, in plain clothes, he drove off a pack of hoodlums who were molesting a guy, gleefully and dutifully reported in all the the local papers.

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

A History of Violence - Toronto 2005

First introduced was Ashton Holmes....."Next is fabulous, luscious......... William Hurt. Then the amazing, always surprising.......... Ed Harris... The startling and scintillating..... Maria Bello. And finally, the really not too bad..... Viggo Mortensen!"

David Cronenberg introducing his cast at TIFF
From Topaz's account
Toronto International Film Festival

A History of Violence - Cannes 2005

"Viggo's like an ambassador of the production. He is incredibly generous, and has a wonderful effect of involving everybody."

David Cronenberg, Director
Cannes Film Festival 2005 Press Kit

One last thing that I wish to report is a small anecdote concerning someone. One of my charming girlfriends, attached to the press core assisting all of the DVDrama personel, yesterday was herself helped by a hero and not the least of which since it was Mr. Viggo Mortensen, alias the sensual Aragorn of the Lord of the Rings, about whom we are still having numerous fantasies since the first showing of Peter Jackson's trilogy. Present in Cannes to support David Cronenberg's film, A History of Violence, in which he proves once again his immensity talent, he went to the private evening gathering that followed the premiere screening, which was exactly where my girlfriend was, whose dress suddenly caught fire as she walked down the centre of an avenue edged with small candles. An accident which could have transformed itself very quickly into a catastrophe if the courageous Viggo hadn't intervened immediately, gently throwing himself on her to help extinguish the first flames that could have become a conflagration. Reassuring and concerned he next took lengthy care of her. After this summer the King of Tolkien, Viggo, is today the King of Cannes and I regret not being the one of whose dress caught fire!

Viggo the Hero
DVDrama, Cannes Film Festival Report
17 May 2005

Quotable Viggo: 29 August 2009

Seeing that GI Jane photo again this week - the one where the Master Chief is terrorising a recruit after treating him to DH Lawrence - reminded me that in all my ramblings around Viggo's artistic life there is one area that I haven't yet looked at in any depth - his poetry. Strange, because out of all of Viggo's multiplicity of works this is what I love most. Maybe, like treasure, I've been saving it up. But poetry is very much on the Viggo news radar at the moment, with Viggo busy promoting Perceval Press's Anthology of New Argentine Poetry and working on his next collection: Songs of Winter. He's also given us some new insights into how he writes in this month's Pagina 12 interview and recently talked about how he wrote his poem "Chaco'. And making this week Poetry Week means we can also revisit another of my favourite quotes, this time from Exene Cervenka...

Poetry Reading & Signing - St Lawrence University, Canton, NY 3.1.03.
© St Lawrence University.

'He kept a lot of his poetry inside his refrigerator,' says Cervenkova, 'which endeared him to me forever.'

Exene Cervenkova
Viggo Mortensen
by Steve Pond,
US Magazine #236, 1997

"I write faster in English; in Spanish I am slower because I left knowing the slang of the late 60's and when I returned in '95, I found other words in use. Speaking so much English or Danish, sometimes I write in a strange way; there are things that are very personal, very much mine, and others that seem to me unique until later I realize that here they are said every day. I like to whittle at the poems, work them until they are as short as possible, but at the same time have a lot in them.'

Viggo Mortensen
"I feel honored to be able to give a hand to poets"
Translated for V-W by Zooey and Sage
Pagina 12
20 August 2009

'I wrote that one while thinking about my childhood, the mental and physical strength children have: the daring, the innocent courage, the absence of prejudice, the visceral connection with nature, with the environment that surrounded me, which seemed to threaten me and embrace me,'

Viggo talking about Chaco
The Hidden Side of Viggo Mortensen
Fernanda Nicolini
Diario Crítica de la Argentina.
Translated by Graciela, Remolina, Sage and Zooey
1 July 2009

These [Mortensen's] poems seem close to the way his mind works: things tend to be collaged in where they almost fit, or, more precisely, they fit in the only way they can: almost.

Kevin Power
Viggo Mortensen: A Life Tracking Itself
Singlanguage 2002

The poetry works because Mortensen is Scandinavian (Danish father, American mother), says Manhire, "and there is this Scandinavian myth about how poetry is a mixture of blood and honey - his poetry has that mixture."

Bill Manhire, Victoria University, NZ
"I'm a poet" - Rings star Mortensen
by Josie McNaught
Sunday Star-Times 2003

Mortensen crafts spare, fine-tuned verses that end with the sharp report of a metaphor hitting its target.

The Man Who Would Be King,
by Nick Dent
Black & White magazine 2001

'I'm not always the best person at communicating really directly? You know, in words? Unless they're in poetry or through images.'

Signlanguage Exhibition Video Transcription
By Zooey (Transcription)
2 February 2002
Source: You Tube

Are your poems born from happiness or from pain?

I've probably written more poems about moments that have some kind of complication. But I think there are elements of both.

Viggo Mortensen
The Inner Viggo,
By Jenny Ewart
New Zealand's Woman's Weekly, 2003

What influences you in your choices of structure and presentation?

"not sure. trees, dreams, doubt, birds, books, rain. have felt comfortable writing in prose style lately. have not had as much time as i did a few years ago to organise and rework poems in anything but paragraphs. that does, however, feel right these days. clean, uncluttered. am just as nit-picky about word choices and structure, but more trusting of the in-built rhythm of word-pictures, prose fragments --not concerned with indicating any kind of preferred reading of a poem.

Viggo-Works Talks With Viggo
3 April 2007
Source: Viggo-Works

'I don't have to wait on other people as to whether I'm allowed to work, and it's up to me if I want to ruin it in the editing.'

Viggo Mortensen on writing poetry
Viggo Mortensen
by Steve Pond
US Magazine #236, 1997

'I'm always looking at things that I write and going 'what can I take out of that and [make] it still work'. And then, years later... I might look at that poem again and go, 'You know, I can still take out two words.'

Viggo Mortensen
The Fire That Fuels an Artist's Heart
by Carnell
Carpe Noctem magazine #15, 1999

'It is important to protect living poetry, which is also why I participate as often as I can in public readings."

Viggo Mortensen
A Year in the Life of Viggo Mortensen, by Sophie Benamon, Studio Magazine, 2003

Mortensen began the evening by lighting a candle and quoting a phrase by poet S.A. Griffin. 'We are here for the sweet stigmata of the poem. And here's the news.' The breathless, packed room received the news, and it was clear from the moment Viggo spoke that this was poetry's night.

National Poetry Month Starts At Beyond Baroque With Three April Fools
By Philomene Long, Poet Laureate of Venice
Santa Monica Mirror
27 April 2006

'A lot of people that were here tonight said something about their writing, but were too embarrassed by it. And I'd ask them about what they write and encourage them to pursue it. People sometimes seem to feel that poetry is just this little thing you do privately, like your diary. But in reality it's something that you can work at in many ways, that you can share, that you can take as far as you like.'

Viggo Mortensen at the Midnight Special reading
A Religious Moment Where Something Might Happen
by Scott Thill
Morphizm 2002

'...some people will come to hear the reading and some people will come because of The Lord of the Rings. I don't care. If they come and hear the poems and they have a reaction pro or con, and there's a connection made between me and them - then who cares?"

Viggo on Poetry Readings
The Brain Dane
by Ariel Leve
The Sunday Times, 2003

Quotable Viggo: 22 August 2009

In her article "Sympathy for the Devil' (The Observer 2009) Chrissy Iley remarks that she's fascinated by the way Viggo "does ambiguity'. She is talking about his performance in Good but this holds true for almost all his roles because I think this is exactly why Viggo is such a mesmerising actor. Whatever appears to be on the surface we know there are other things going on underneath. With Cronenberg characters this comes very much to the fore with complex men who are not at all what they seem. In fact Viggo has a long list of such characters - Nick in American Yakuza, David Shore in A Perfect Murder, con man Johnny Faro and Frank Hopkins fooling himself into believing that he isn't really Blue Child. Even Aragorn isn't just a Ranger and has lived longer in disguise than Tom Stall. Then there is the way Viggo can balance the "cruel and the gentle' within the range of one character... he is indeed an actor who can "embrace extremes of danger and empathy' being "equal parts Marlboro Man and Terminator...'

Image Takashi Seida.
© New Line Productions Inc.

One of the things that has always fascinated me about Viggo Mortensen is the way he does ambiguity. The way he can look cruel and gentle at the same time. The way he can embrace extremes of danger and empathy. In Good his ambiguity excels itself. He's a Nazi you can't hate because you understand him. You warm to him, even. He's vulnerable, he's vain. He has been gradually seduced into the Nazi movement. He couldn't help himself.

Sympathy for the devil
By Chrissy Iley
The Observer
19 April 2009

You seem to enjoy ambiguous characters...

For me every character is ambiguous, I don't like flat characters or those that don't appeal to me. In fact, every time I'm given a character who is very good and very calm and very kind, I begin to think what could be wrong with that guy, what terrible things will he have done and what his negative side will be.

"Violence is not an American patrimony"
By Toni García - translated by Paddy
21 October 2005

The film [A History of Violence] is too good to reduce it into terms of mere violence. It speaks about the human condition and how ambiguous we are. I agree with David on this: human beings are complicated. A man can be the most violent person in the world and yet still on occasions act with compassion and in a caring manner.

The Terrible Lure of Violence
By Daniel Ferullo - translated by Margarita
El Siglo de Tucumán
8 January 2006

"Alatriste...is a politically incorrect hero, a murderer, a mercenary, and I was afraid that, in the film, he would lose his harshness and would be more tolerable, but fortunately both Agustín and Viggo crossed that boundary and kept a dark and ambiguous hero, giving him that dark and terribly tragic look. Viggo has made the character human, and even more Spanish".

Pérez-Reverte: "I have no doubt about Alatriste being from León"
By Miguel Ángel Nepomuceno
Diario de Leon
30 August 2006

Viggo Mortensen's turn as a milquetoast professor made into an unlikely Nazi official is pretty striking....Mortensen, often cast as tough men of action and boundless rectitude, persuades us here that his John Halder has the skills to present to the world and himself a façade of decency over the spine of a jellyfish. It's a very skillful, commendably self-effacing performance.

"Good' review
Abbie Bernstein
If Magazine
31 December 2008

He's the ideal Cronenberg anti-hero: gentle and macho at the same time, as charismatic as Steve McQueen and as beautiful as a saint in a master painting.

Dana Stevens
13 Sept 2007

In 'A History of Violence,' Mr. Mortensen seamlessly impersonated an ordinary, decent small-town guy who was also a cold, professional killer. Nikolai is a similarly ambiguous - or perhaps divided - character. He is all hard, tense muscle, and yet an almost subliminal hint of compassion occasionally shines through his icy, impassive face.

A. O. Scott
New York Times
14 Sept 2007

For Tom Stall, the loving and gentle father and family man in A History of Violence, who has renounced or repressed his past as a murderer, Cronenberg wanted an ambiguous actor with an edge.

'Viggo has charisma. Not only that - he knows how to be subtle, imperceptible. In a look, a gesture, he reveals a whole other personality of Tom's.'

Viggo Mortensen - The Lord Touches All
By François-Guillaume Lorrain - translated by Margarita
Le Point
27 October 2005

Viggo Mortensen succeeds in presenting this human schizophrenic with those innocent blue eyes that can equally hide infinite cruelty.

"A History of Violence' review
Cronenberg's Violence
GLZonline Cannes Review, by Gidi Orsher
translated by Natica
May 2005

Appearances are deceptive, indeed. What's more, Mortensen skillfully injects that deception into his chameleon performance. His features themselves seem to evolve, soft at first and then growing hard, progressing (regressing) from cherubic choirboy to flinty-eyed thug and back again.

"A History of Violence' review
Rick Groen
The Globe and Mail
23 September 2005

...Viggo Mortensen plays a small-town American paterfamilias, equal parts Marlboro Man and Terminator...

"A History of Violence' review
A Nice Place to Film, but Heavens, Not to Live
Manohla Dargis
New York Times, 11Sept 2005

Even before Tom proves himself a capable man when danger lurks, there's something about Mortensen -- or is it something he does as an actor? -- that makes the audience think, "No. There has to be more to this guy."

"A History of Violence' review
Mick LaSalle,
San Francisco Chronicle
23 September 2005

Mortensen is absolutely brilliant: stoic and sarcastic and threatening and, at moments, curiously soft.

"Eastern Promises' Review
Shawn Levy
The Oregonian
21 Sept 2007

Mortensen shows himself more comfortable with darkness and ambivalence than he ever was with the gaudy heroism required of a king in Middle Earth. His Nikolai is an enigma, an evidently decent man surrounded by, and comfortable amidst, heinous evil, one whose motives, at least initially, are unclear.

"Eastern Promises' review
Christopher Orr
TNR Online
15 Sept 2007

'I like to get to know the characters and I have never played a character, no matter how hideous his actions were, that I didn't really like the person I was playing somehow or feel a bond with this character in a sense.'

Viggo Mortensen
The Fire That Fuels an Artist's Heart
by Carnell
Carpe Noctem magazine #15, 1999

Quotable Viggo: 15 August 2009

Thanks to HermioneO's wonderful Film Reviews I learned for the first time (having never seen the film) that in Tripwire Viggo sports a "cute German accent': 'I vill snap your neck like a tvig!'. Sometimes I wonder if there is any accent Viggo hasn't done or any language he hasn't tried. As well as speaking fluent Spanish, Danish and French, and understanding a fair bit, it seems, of Italian, in LotR he mastered Elvish, in Hidalgo he treated us to Lakota and we've even heard the odd bit of Maori. More surprisingly he once ended up as translator for the Swedish Olympic team. As I can't even order a coffee in anything but English, I'm constantly in awe. Really, though, doing a Quotable on Languages is just a blatant excuse to use two of my favourite recent quotes again...

© Touchstone / Buena Vista Pictures.

'Now, Viggo, you speak seven languages, you write poetry in three languages, Danish, Spanish and English, you ride horses superbly and you're a great swordsman and all our womenfolk are in love with you... do you understand how annoying you are?'

Radio interview with Richard Glover
ABC Sydney
24 March 2009

The Empire Icon award this year went to the disgustingly multitalented Viggo Mortensen, who speaks more languages than God, paints, writes poetry and still finds time to do a bit of acting.

Jameson Empire Award Winners Announced!
Helen O'Hara
Empire Online
30 March 2009

He's shy, but a bit of a motormouth (and can run on in at least six different languages).

Viggo Mortenson is complicated
By Micjelle Devereaux
San Francisco Bay Guardian
12 September 2007

In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn speaks fluent English and Elvish. In Eastern Promises, Nikolai speaks English with a heavy Russian accent. And in Alatriste, which will open Saturday in Japan, Diego Alatriste speaks Spanish the entire time. What do these characters have in common? They are all played by Viggo Mortensen.

Viggo Mortensen: Speaking In Tongues
By Ikuko Kitagawa
Daily Yomiuri
12 December 2008

'We were shooting in London and my hotel room had a 24 hour Russian channel, so I just left it on all the time. I watched movies, variety shows, very strange soap operas....'

Viggo Mortensen on Eastern Promises
By Natasha Stoynoff, People Magazine
1 October 2007

French co-star Vincent Cassels says he and Mortensen "tried to use as much Russian as possible because, to be realistic, when two Russian characters are speaking together, they wouldn't be speaking English, so we kept trying to add more Russian phrases. David Cronenberg was going, 'What are you two saying to each other?' "

"It was like some creeping disease," Cronenberg says. "You wake up one morning and everyone is speaking Russian."

Globe and Mail
10 Sept 2007

"I had days where I was only speaking Russian, and David was like, 'Jesus I didn't realize I was making a foreign film!'

Viggo Mortensen
Ties that bind
by Melora Koepke, Hour CA
13 Sept 2007

'...This year, we're proud to acknowledge Mr. Mortensen, whose star turn in Eastern Promises is amazingly sensitive, multifaceted, and above all authentic. His character even speaks a specific old-school thief slang, and switches to Ukrainian when comforting a Ukrainian woman."

Russia Magazine awards Viggo with "Rolling R' award
13 November 2007

...he has a good ear for language, which in reality is an ear for music since he is also composing music. To make a Russian accent in English is extremely difficult. Many actors have failed during the years. But Viggo does it convincingly.

Viggo Mortensen On The Top Of Hollywood
By Hans Jorgen Moller - translated by Rosen
27 September 2007

'Many people have said that I wasn't able to master the rhythm of Spanish speech but what I was looking for was a specific manner of speaking: the pace and the rhythm, as they would have been spoken by a terse Northern Spaniard. I found that way of speaking, a little slow, very cautious, without revealing too much, because that's how they speak in the mountains of Leon in the north of Spain, near Asturias.'

Viggo Mortensen
An Old-Fashioned Hero
Cinemania (Mexico)
By Daniel Ritz - translated by Margarita April 2007

'I was terrified that my accent would be a problem for Alatriste. I would have to live for the rest of my days hearing, 'The movie was good, but that accent of Mortensen's...''

I wouldn't look the Alatristes of today in the eye
By Oskar L. Belategui, translated for V-W bu Margarita
Hoy Sociedad
3 September 2006

'I sometimes gravitate toward one language or another or a certain structure for a poem or short story. In the past year or so, I've been writing mostly in Spanish for some reason. Whatever I was feeling, I felt like I've got to express it in Spanish. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because I've been hanging around Spanish-speaking people or Spanish-speaking countries a lot recently.'

Viggo Mortensen - For The Good Of The People
By Elliot V Kotek
Moving Pictures
Winter 2008-2009

Rove: I know you used to be a translator with, I think, the Swedish Hockey Team in the Winter Olympics?

Viggo: Well, I was meant to be a translator for the Danish Olympic Team but nobody showed up. Literally. And they said "Well, can you understand the Swedes?' I said "I probably can. I'm not sure they can understand me.' But it became...what I really got to do was go to a lot of hockey games with drunken Finns and Swedes...'

Rove Live interview
February 28 2006

Mortensen proves once again that he's an able, even intuitive performer, more compelling speaking Lakota Sioux than many others in plain English.

Sara Brady
3 March 2004

'One of the [Native Americans on the set] was telling me that I got the accent right,' Mortensen says. 'That meant more to me than a good review of the film. It was really important to me to not make a mockery of this culture, which has such history and depth.'

Viggo Mortensen Rides Back In 'Hidalgo'
By Jae-Ha Kim
29 February 2004
Chicago Sun-Times

'Speaking Elvish was a pure connection I felt to Tolkien himself. It was like he had his hand on your shoulder or was holding your hand.'

The Players - Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)
Entertainment Weekly
May 2004

RP: If you got the opportunity to meet Tolkien today, what would you say to him?

VM: I would want to hear him speak the elvish tongue, hear his accent and find out, how close our version is.

The Star Is Named Viggo
by Rolf Pedersen
M! magazine, 2001

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Last edited: 15 February 2010 09:13:03