Quotable Viggo 2011


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Quotable Viggo: 3 April 2011

Along with all his other talents and interests, it's clear that one thing Viggo likes to do is sing... in private, in public, in his own recordings and on screen - and it's not all Latin tangos, he sang - a cappella - Dylan's 'Masters of War' at Zinn's The People Speak in 2008 and he performed at the premier of the Lord of the Rings Symphony in New Zealand (all of which takes some considerable guts). You won't be at all surprised to know that his singing is also bound up with his love of soccer and San Lorenzo. In fact, he breaks into song in all sorts of unexpected places.

Some Viggo vocal goodness in this His and Hers recording.

© New Line Productions Inc.

...I was 11 when we moved back to the States. I couldn't believe the swear words, the slang, the music - all the kids were into Blue Oyster Cult and Grand Funk Railroad. I was a closet Carpenters fan. I'd sing 'Top of the World' to myself on the way to school, but when I got close to campus I'd shut up.

The Hot New 39-Year-Old
by Dennis Hensley
Movieline magazine, 1998

Q: How did the screen test go [For To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar]?

A: I asked if I could sing 'When I Fall in Love' a cappella, figuring if I could make that much of an ass of myself I'd be less embarrassed saying the dialogue.

The Hot New 39-Year-Old
By Dennis Hensley
Movieline magazine
August 1998

[Howard] asked me a few days ago if I wanted to [perform the song with him as part of the symphony]. I said, "I'm not sure if that's going to be a good idea. I'm not going to be able to rehearse I don't think or anything." And I couldn't. So I got there whilst they were under way. In the intermission, I met the gentleman who was going to do it and said, "it's not my idea. It was Howard's suggestion [laughs loudly]!"

Viggo on singing at the first Lord of the Rings Symphony performance
Return Of The King Press Junket: Viggo Mortensen
By Nazz
December 2003
Source: Nazz

I've sometimes done poetry readings where I've sung a cappella. It's harder when you're singing with someone. There's like a Twilight Zone sort of moment. I had made up that melody for those words originally when we did it years ago. I got a hold of the CD of the song - that is out now - and I was desperately trying to find it on the walkman before I had to go on. The guy I was with - Roger was his name - said, "don't worry about it, let's just practise." So we practised and I was trying to sing like he was, in tone, but on the other hand he was as unfamiliar with Elvish as I was with professional singing like he does. He was very kind and patient with me [laughs]. But it was interesting because I think I was able to help him a little bit with singing in Elvish or singing it this way or that. So there I was, backstage at the symphony, telling this man how to sing in Elvish! But, uhh, I think it worked okay. I think we more or less got through it. Fortunately it was brief and thank God it was a language that no one understands.

Viggo on singing at the first Lord of the Rings Symphony performance
Return Of The King Press Junket: Viggo Mortensen
By Nazz
December 2003
Source: Nazz

Interviewer: Is it true that you sang serenades to calm Gwyneth Paltrow before the love scenes in 'A Perfect Murder'?

Viggo: How do you know that?

Interviewer: She has said that herself.

Viggo: That is correct. To calm her and create a certain atmosphere of intimacy I did sing a couple of love songs that I learned in Argentina when I was young. I don't know if that ended up scaring her instead.

Viggo from Hollywood
By Poul Høi
M/S Magazine
August 2001

There is only me and my camera. I sit down and watch the sky, stop, and maybe sing a little or write something down. When I have time to do that, I am as happy as I can be.

Viggo Mortensen
Capable Of Many Things
By Hanna Björk Valsdóttir - translated by Ragga
30 May 2008
Source: Fréttablaðið

...I like to sing tangos every now and then, in private... I don't want to bother other people; I bother them enough with my movies.

Viggo talking about his Argentinian Childhood on Radio Cooperativa, Chile
By - transcribed/translated by Graciela
Radio Cooperativa
27 March 2007

'All that time I was in Morocco it was neat. We'd be out there in the desert. Everyone else would drive the hour, hour and a half back to town where the hotel was, and I'd stay out in the trailer on the set, alone. The dust would settle and it was quiet. It would get dark and I would wash up, make myself some food or whatever and put on these tapes and a bunch CDs that I got from people and different places like Prairie Edge. I'd play these tapes and songs, ceremonial songs, and I'd have the door open in the trailer and I'd be out in the desert, in the middle of the Sahara. I'd be like singing Lakota songs out there - it was cool! I knew I had to come back here.'

Viggo Mortensen
An Interview with Viggo, by Lise Balk King and Frank J King
Native Voice, January 2004

VM: I like music very much, and as an actor, it has helped me to get under the skin of many of the characters that I have played.

MC: And if I tell you: "My passion is red and blue and it asks for your fervor", does it ring a bell?

VM: It is a tango that I changed a bit to sing it to my team (laughs). Yes, I sang it for San Lorenzo de Almagro.

The Dark Side Of The Hero
By Walder & Castro - translated by Graciela, Remolina and Zooey
Marie Claire (Spain)
June 2009

"The highest honor in my life is to be a San Lorenzo fan; we have a noble spirit... we know how to win and how to lose with dignity; and the only time we have an ugly face in the stadium is when we play. It will always be like this for me; and stealing some words from the great Homero Manzi (tango writer)... something like this: (singing) "I love you today more than I did yesterday, but less than I will tomorrow; my passion is azulgrana (red and blue), and it demands your fervor". Thank you San Lorenzo! Go Ciclón!"

Viggo's speech
100th year San Lorenzo celebration
Buenos Aires
Translated by Silver
2 April 2008

What do you remember of the first time you saw San Lorenzo play live in a stadium ?

That we lost... but that the passion, the unconditional support of the fans, the non-stop singing, were exactly what I had always imagined and felt. Every time I go to a match I get excited and enjoy myself just as much, no matter what happens soccerwise. As the song says "... it´s a feeling you carry deep inside.."

Viggo, A True Cuervo
La Revista de San Lorenzo
Translated by Ollie, Rio, Sage and Zooey
18 April 2010

"I don't play soccer well... I sing just like I play soccer! But I like it, so I do it anyway, it's just a matter of starting, fear is useless..."

Viggo Mortensen
A Hollywood star in RSM
Argentinean TV interview with Mariana Fabbiani
11 October 2008

Quotable Viggo: 26 March 2011

A few weeks ago I did a quotable about Viggo and Cronenberg's comic double act. It's clear Viggo's silly genes (the phrase wonderfully coined by his Aunt Tulle) are infectious, when you see the repartee between Viggo and Kodi during The Road promotions, the endless joshing between him and Dominic Monaghan during and after LotR filming, the Oscar Losers Dance, the History of Violence fish infestation. Then there's the jokes that refuse to die because no one gets them. To get us in the mood for some comic madness, how about theHalf Fling song from Viggo's CD Pandemoniumfromamerica, where the Hobbits are given full comic rein.

Half Fling

© New Line Productions Inc.

He's known as a practical joker on set. "There's no sense in doing something, especially if it's a hard job, if you can't have a little fun," he says.

"On Lord Of The Rings we had these little people who were stand-ins for the hobbits. One time Dominic (Monaghan, who played the hobbit Merry) and I mimicked this one particular guy who had a really distinctive voice and rang the producers to say that all the little people were stranded on (New Zealand's) South Island with nothing to eat and no water. It became this big crisis and the producers sent everyone scrambling.

"Another time I called Elijah Wood (Frodo) every day for six weeks pretending to be a long-lost German friend. Most of the calls were in the middle of the night. Fortunately he thought it was funny..."

Viggo Mortensen Goes From Lord Of The Rings To King Of The Road
By Martyn Palmer
Daily Mail
6 December 2009

For the past two years, Viggo and I have been involved in trying to sabotage each other in the media by giving each other s***. For the second DVD of The Two Towers, the extended cut, there's a documentary of the actors just giving each other hassles, and there's HUGE stuff going on with Viggo and me, where we're just making up rumors about each other, and makin' out that things happened that actually didn't happen.

IGN Interviews Dominic Monaghan
December 2003

...I would say probably 95% of the work that you see as Viggo onscreen is completely computer generated, because he has a wooden leg and he can't run.

IGN Interviews Dominic Monaghan
December 2003

"Thank God for special effects, makeup the voice dubbing and all that. They completely replaced Kodi, thank God! We had Andy Serkis do it."
Viggo Mortensen sets the record straight about his acting career, 'The Road' and 'The Hobbit'

By Carla Hay
25November 2009

Reporter: You both had to go to some tough emotional places in this movie. How did you turn that off once the take was done?

Mortensen: He'd tell me I sucked.

Then he went back to his room and had a cry.

Viggo and Kodi joking around at the Toronto Film Festival
Where 'Road' takes them
By Jen Chaney
The Washington Post
22 November 2009

"He can be silly," says Ed Harris, who worked with Mortensen on A History of Violence and Appaloosa. "Not so much with men. But around women, he's the silliest." His Good co-star Jodie Whittaker suffered it first-hand. "Everyone says he's a really sexy guy, but that's not his everyday way of being. He's like a teenager - excitable and funny. He starts really laughing, and even if you don't find it funny, you lose it too, just because he's laughing! It's enchanting."

Beautiful Dreamer
By Holly Millea
Elle (U.S.)
October 2009

During production on David Cronenberg's thriller A History of Violence last fall, Viggo Mortensen carried around a fish - a 12-inch, anatomically correct plastic trout. It was a peripheral prop, a toy brought in for his character's young daughter, but Mortensen decided to adopt it as a secret talisman of sorts. Every day, he tucked it into his back pocket, his cowboy boots, his bag, anywhere that was out of Cronenberg's sight. "It was like a compulsive thing after a while," the actor explains. "I felt like it was unlucky not to have the trout, so I would sneak it in. It became this game to see if I could keep getting away with it." He did - until the last day of shooting, when his finnish friend fell out...on camera. Says Mortensen, with just a touch of mischievous pride: "David saw it and was appalled."

History Teacher
By Missy Schwartz
Entertainment Weekly
19 August 2005

To Maria Bello the enigmatic Viggo Mortensen's still waters don't just run deep - they're rife with wildlife. "Viggo is obsessed with fish," says Bello, 38, of her A History of Violence co-star. No word, though, on if he loved the piscine-themed decor a secret interior designer created for him. Says Bello: "I'm happy to say, on the last day of shooting he walked into his trailer and saw a three-foot dead fish hanging from his chandelier. I'm not at liberty to say how it got there. But I'm very proud of it."

Fishy Behaviour
By Danielle Anderson
3 October 2005

"You have to remember that basically you're children. Talk about innocence, you have to allow yourself to be innocent when you're making a movie," Mortensen explains. "You have to be like children, because after all, you're putting on funny mustaches that aren't real. You're putting on clothes; you're calling each other by names that you are not. It's like playing in a sandbox and you don't want to lose that naivety and that innocence. You want to create a reality. You can't be cynical and you can't be too adult."

A History Of Their Collaboration
By Pam Grady
Film Stew
11 September 2007

"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

One highly regarded website claims that Mortensen has a clause in his movie contracts that he doesn't have to film on Halloween - a sacred day which he shares with his son. Repeat this to him and the intense eyes gleam with mischief: Seriously? That's too funny! Can you imagine? A film company saying, "Yeah, of course you don't have to work on Halloween!'? ....But just for the record, no, Halloween isn't special to me. You know what? I made that story up when I was bored in an interview once and it's come back to bite me ever since. I guess it goes to show that people will pretty much believe anything.'

Partners in Crime
By Gill Pringle
Filmink Magazine
31 March 2006

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: 20 March 2011

Cityladynyc has been treating us to photos of Viggo's hands for several weeks now. Tattooed in Eastern Promises, covered in paint, scribbled with things to remember, knocked raw filming LotR, vividly illustrating a point in an interview, so distinctive we'd probably recognise him anywhere by his fingers alone, it's definitely time for a Hands Quotable!

© New Line Productions Inc.

Several late-afternoon hours earlier in the hotel's nearly empty dining area, Mortensen is sitting at the piano, leaning close to the ivory keys, playing soft, sad, jazzy notes. His dark blond hair falls across his face, but the square, cleft jaw is recognizable, as are the thick-knuckled hands that famously know their way around a sword (Lord of the Rings), a gun (A History of Violence), a knife (Eastern Promises), and a woman (A Walk on the Moon).

Beautiful Dreamer
By Holly Millea
Elle (U.S.)
October 2009

Had I seen photographs of only his hands, not knowing who he was, I'd have made them for one of Richard Avedon's Midwestern carny/ranch-hand stills: dark, rough, and callused along the edges of his forefingers.

Viggo's Box
By Craig Clevenger
Fond Affexxions #5, Winter Thaw 1995

Viggo Mortensen doesn't talk with his hands so much as he batters the air.

On 'The Road' and off, Viggo Mortensen walks the walk
By Scott Bowles
USA Today
3 December 200

Viggo Mortensen was bare-footed, with loose dark pants and a large shirt that makes him look both small and newly awakened. His left hand is decorated with stuff to remember and phone numbers all the way up his arm and a stubborn bit of tape has attached itself to his sleeve.

Caught In His Own Picture
By Trine Ross - translated by Rebekka
28 June 2003

...a soft-spoken man with splatters of gray-green paint on his knuckles.

True Colors
By Margot Dougherty
Los Angeles Magazine
December 1998

He is so scary that all the clients from a bar ran away in a panic the minute they noticed the tattoos on his hands.

David Cronenberg
Cronenberg and the Russian Godfather
By Serge Grunberg - translated by Celine
Studio, May 2007

"The language of the tattoos that the character has, which are a lot...tattoos are like a personal code, a summary of one's life up to then. Tattoos speak. They say...I am from here, from this area, this society, this country. I have loyalties towards certain people... from a certain area. These are my criminal specialties, this is what I do, this is my job. These are the prisons where I have been [pointing to his hands], and how many times, everything.

The Univision Interview
By - transcribed/translated by Graciela
23 September 2007

"The concierge probably didn't speak English, and here's Viggo gesturing with his hands and pointing, scribbling on a pad. And I think Viggo eventually got 50% off the bill. If you know Viggo, it makes perfect sense. In a way, he transcends the acting."

Brendan Fraser talking about Viggo staying mute through The Passion of Darkly Noon filming.
Viggo Trip
by Liane Bonin
Flaunt magazine #39, 2002

...stirring up the bowels of everyday life with his curious eyes and his restless hands...

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

If you're a woman you will remember the way he slid his hands backward over her cheeks as they made love in his grimy loft.

Talking about 'A Perfect Murder'
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Source: Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

I am being seduced by royalty. And not your garden variety Windsor, either. Admittedly, he looks more like a gypsy in his earthy tunic repaired to within an inch of its life, his hands and nails bearing the ingrained grit of a farmer. But he's a king all right...

Return of the King
The King and I
By Julie Hosking
Sunday Telegraph
23 November 2003

"He had no knuckles," laughs make-up man Perez. "He'd been virtually slaughtered by everyone because he would not let anyone do his rehearsals. All his knuckles were completely bruised and cut and God knows what else. Every time that he had a scene, I said, 'Okay, now where did they hit you?'"

Jose Perez talking about The Lord of the Rings filming
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
Premiere 2003

...soon enough a hectic press person is standing there, pulling at him again. We shake hands. His hand is surprisingly large and warm and sort of rough while mine is closer to being quick. The face is still somewhat sad as caught in its own image when he puts his head through the lift doors and says: 'It was nice meeting you.'

Caught In His Own Picture
By Trine Ross - translated by Rebekka
28 June 2003

Quotable Viggo: 13 March 2011

We had a wonderful quote this week from Michael Fassbender, who described Viggo as 'the most beautiful man in the world'. 'Beautiful' is a word used a lot by both men and women when talking about him, and is an unusual choice to describe a man. But of course we know that the beauty they are talking about isn't skin deep. They are talking about something far more meaningful. Tom Roston, in probably my favourite Viggo article of all times, The Hero Returns, gets to the heart of it with his insight that Viggo's beauty 'extends beyond the physical', although (as you will see from the quotes) it has indeed been used many times to describe his looks where 'handsome' doesn't convey anywhere near enough. 'Beautiful' has even appeared in three article titles: 'Viggo Mortensen, Beautiful Savage' (Le Figaro, 2008), 'Viggo Mortensen - Beautiful Idealist' (Grazia, 2009) and 'Beautiful Dreamer' (Elle, 2009). Now we have a 'beautiful' Quotable.

©New Line Productions Inc.

His physical appeal - the soulful eyes, high cheekbones, cleft chin, and general ruggedness - is obviously apparent. He was named one of People's most beautiful of 2002, but, again, he taps into something that extends beyond the physical.

The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
January 2003

'...Viggo Mortensen -- he is the most beautiful man in the world! He is! He's just like, wow! He's such a special dude.'

Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender, future superstar
By Andrew O'Hehir
8 March 2011

Elijah Wood, who plays the hobbit Frodo in the films, says that Mortensen is one of the strangest and most charismatic people he has ever encountered. "When I first met him, we sat down in this real crusty place, the Green Parrot, and I remember not being able to hold a conversation, because I was so intimidated," Wood says. "There is something beautiful and quiet about Viggo, but the more I got to know him, the more I realized how insanely brilliant and crazy he is - how he has this insane wild side."

Elijah Wood
Finding Viggo By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

"He's a really beautiful, delicate artist of a man. He's nothing like any other actor I've worked with."

Jason Issacs
Good premier, Toronto
7 September 2008

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

Mortensen, bearded, smudged, greasy-haired, has a primal, haggard beauty.

Road review
David Edelstein
New York Magazine
15 November 2009

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

'I thought that he was certainly going to be an intense guy, from everything that I've read about him. (laughs) And he's not. He's so lovely and light. He's a beautiful human being.'

Maria Bello on working with Viggo
JoBlo.com, by Thomas Luepp
27 September 2005

Perched on a post like a big, black-plumaged bird of prey, beautiful Viggo Mortensen is a long-haired, soft-voiced, doe-eyed seducer.

As Lucifer in The Prophecy
Sympathy for the Devil
Kathleen Murphy
MSN Movies
MSN.com 18 April 2005

Over the years, Mortensen has been perceived by casting directors as so unlikely in the role of a mainstream character that his physical beauty was played for decadence. How could the future romantic warrior of The Lord of the Rings have been so misunderstood?

Man Power
By Katherine Mitchell
September 2002

"I was in New York, doing a book that was going to be called "The Beautiful Men." and somebody suggested him. He was totally unknown at the time, and I told him he'd never get anywhere with a name like Viggo Mortensen. But then he started taking off his shirt, and his name no longer mattered."

Ellen Graham, Photographer, on her book "The Bad and the Beautiful'
Town and Country magazine
November 2004

Viggo wears his beauty so carelessly and deflects flattery with a wry head-on-the-side smile of modesty.

Ian McKellen
"The White book", Mckellen.com
July 15, 2003

... the artist who can tame a stallion and then adopt him, an outspoken political liberal who can cook from scratch and sword fight with a vengeance. A movie star who backpacks in remote, unlovely places. A beautiful man who will sleep in the dirt on a mountain in New Zealand. A rich guy who uses his money to publish books that will never sell because they are lovely.

If you could design the perfect man, Mortensen might just be close to it.

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

Quotable Viggo: 6 March 2011

While preparing last week's Cowboy Quotable, I found yet another reference to Viggo's amazing ability to convey a huge amount of meaning while appearing to do very little, calling it 'a specialized art, one with few masters'. While this reviewer was talking about Appaloosa, Viggo's minimalist approach blew critics away in The Road, A History of Violence and where this ability probably had its biggest impact, Eastern Promises.

©Focus Features.

...Holding one's body still in front of a movie camera while also giving the sense of a mind in motion is a specialized art, one with few masters. Paul Newman comes to mind, notably in his later career, as does Robert Duvall, a perennial movie cowboy who will surely wish that Appaloosa had come his way. And now, it would seem, there is Mortensen, who steals this film by doing nothing much more than lean against doorways and bar counters. Like Harris, Mortensen is a great listener, and good listeners--in life and in movies--barely move. That quality is just right for the role of Hitch, whose life hangs on Cole's next word and slightest gesture. It's an old truth, and not just about westerns: When the talking stops, the dying begins.

Chuck Wilson
Village Voice
17 Septmeber 2008

Everett says very little and spends a lot of time just watching the other characters, so Mortensen's performance resides almost entirely in his eyes, which register tiny, unmistakable nuances of surprise, suspicion and amusement.

A O Scott
International Herald Tribune
18 September 2008

Viggo Mortensen is not about the words. He's about being... present. .......

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

Mortensen is wonderful. He's one of the best actors at not doing anything and making you watch him all the more.

Ty Burr talking about Appaloosa
Boston Globe: Take 2
October 2008

He's a master of minimalism - what most actors need a monologue to express, Mortensen can convey in one wordless close-up, from behind sunglasses.

Ryan Gilbey
New Statesman
18 October 2007

In Viggo Mortensen, Hillcoat is working with one of the current cinema's great quiet everymen, and if anyone can make the novel's stolid, unnamed hero empathic and emotionally alive on screen whilst remaining loyal to the novel's aesthetic minimalism, it's this immensely physical, restrained performer.

The Road
Kris Tapley
August 2009

Mr. Mortensen gives him a gaunt grandeur--it doesn't hurt that the actor's face can evoke paintings of Christ without a muscle being moved...

The Road
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
26 November 2009

.....keep your eyes on Mortensen. You could make an entire movie about the way that guy just stands in a room and quietly scans the atmosphere for even the slightest molecular disturbance.

Come to think of it, Eastern Promises may be that movie.

By Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
6 Sept 2007

In a performance of tremendous power and impressive subtlety, Mortensen employs eerie stillness to rivet the audience's attention and send chills down its collective spine.

Soren Anderson
The News Tribune
21 Sept 2007

"Viggo is so minimal and so stoic....There's one scene where Naomi Watts gets on the motorcycle. Viggo is standing by a post and not moving: 'Where'd you get that bike?' I was impressed with how minimal he was; I just bought that he was a Russian hitman."

Dennis Hopper
Variety Awards News
29 November 2007

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

Eastern Promises
Indelible Ink
By Adam Nayman
Eye Weekly
30 Aug 2007

He's not an actor counting the motions for a scene, but his eyes are alive, you can see fear and desperation in his face as he acts, you also see a resoluteness to do what has to be done.... It's kinda perfect.

A History of Violance
Ain't it Cool News
28 September 2005

With the smallest of moves, the most understated of plays, he connects us to Tom in ways few actors could

A History of Violence
David Cornelius
1 October 2005

Film is a visual medium; I have been fortunate to begin my career with small roles: often they give you few words and you get used to finding a way to express yourself. Anyway, in my opinion a good performance is a matter of reacting to what happens, or what they say to you, not necessarily with words.

Viggo Mortensen: "I put the alfajores aside"
By Pablo O Scholz - translated by Ollie, Sage and Zooey
21 May 2010

Viggo Mortensen is not about the words. He's about being... present. .......

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

Quotable Viggo: 26 February 2011

This week we have a collection of cowboy related quotes, for no other reason than the fact that I found a quote from a review of Young Guns 11 where the film was described as "double-barrelled cowpuffery". That was just too good to miss. So what makes a good Western? What makes a good Cowboy? And was Viggo born to tote an Eight Gauge, gallop horses, and ride firm-jawed into those sunsets?

© New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers/Matt Lankes./ Morgan Creek Productions/Touchstone/Buena Vista Pictures.

"double-barrelled cowpuffery"

Review of Young Guns 11
Quoted by Alex Kuczynski in Vanity Fair
January 2004

As a child, he loved comic books and was obsessed with adventure stories, tales of Vikings and explorers. If he was not going to be a soccer player, he wanted to be a gaucho. "I liked the whole cowboy thing, I suppose," he remembers. "Being self-sufficient, living off the land. You know, a knife in the back of your belt."

That is part of what appealed to him about his latest movie, Hidalgo...

The Rebel King
By Chris Heath
GQ magazine
April 2004

Standing 5 feet, 11 inches tall, he undoubtedly an outdoorsy guy - all weathered skin, callused hands and easygoing gestures. One could easily see him at home on the range - he even has that "ah shucks" cowboy mumble.

The Other Side of Viggo Mortensen
By Paul Young
Variety Life
October 2003

He is not a man who can walk into a room unnoticed.... His blond hair is neatly parted and he is clean-shaven; there is a jagged scar on his upper lip, a streak of lightning against his tan, the relic of a fight during his teenage years.

A weird mix of cowboy and playboy, Mortensen gives the impression of Indiana Jones going to a fancy dress party as Bryan Ferry.

Lone Star
By Peter Ross
Sunday Herald
Dorchester, UK 11 April 2004

"I found out a while back that I'm related to Buffalo Bill - distantly, on my mother's mother's side of the family," he says. "It's true: I went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, and saw the records that prove the connection."

Viggo Mortensen: The Straight-Shooting Star of the New Western
By Joe Leydon
Cowboys & Indians
April 2004

"One thing that sometimes happens when people think they're being really authentic is that they tend to make everything look too worn-out. If you do the research, you'll see that even if a cowboy was poor, he'd take pride in certain things. Like, his saddle wasn't going to be some piece of crap. And they had color - it wasn't all drab browns and grays, all worn-out stuff. That scarf - that's something Hitch takes pride in, and he takes care of it."

Viggo Mortensen
Spotlight - Appaloosa
By Joe Leydon
Cowboys & Indians
October 2008

Viggo Mortensen follows a classic cowboy code in the Western "Appaloosa": Speak softly and carry a big honkin' gun.

Mortensen Packs a Big Gun
By David Germain
Associated Press
17 September 2008

"I looked at old Remington drawings and other images to see how guys would really stand in gunfights back then. It wasn't that thing you always see in movies, where the guy is standing there with his legs apart and with his hands out waiting to draw his gun. Not that people never did that. But it just made more sense to me that you'd have one leg forward, and your hand forward, and your gun's already out. I have to say, I did think about it like a bullfighter at that final moment, with the sword. I saw a Remington drawing of a guy facing down another guy in the street, using exactly that position."

Viggo Mortensen
Spotlight - Appaloosa
By Joe Leydon
Cowboys & Indians
October 2008

It's not as if we haven't seen movies like "Hidalgo" before - the cowboy, the horse, the hat - and yet there's something fresh about it all the same. Part of it comes from Viggo Mortensen, an actor who has the measured pace and steady gaze of a Cooper or a Stewart.

Wild West to wild Mideast
Mortensen saddles up as former cowboy racing across desert
Mick LaSalle
Chronicle, 5 March 2004

Mortensen is steadfast like a throw back to the old school smoldering actors that paraded about the prairies, years ago; sexy and very iconic American cowboy.

Hidalgo Review
Emily Blunt
The Blunt Review

"The cowboy 'ethic' has as much in common ideally with the Medieval Knight or Lakota warrior or Samurai warrior in that you can be an individual, be independent minded and allow other people to have their individual experience too! It can be that way."

Viggo Mortensen
An Interview with Viggo
By Lise Balk King and Frank J King
Native Voice
January 2004

In the film, Harris and Mortensen play Marshall and loyal sidekick, respectively. Both men carry guns, squint into the open plain and communicate with long, almost loving silences. They're the archetypal cowboys and the base layer of the American psyche that believes in riding into the sunset and heroic endings.

Mortensen says he loves the cowboy ideal as well as the cowboy aesthetic, but the classic old codes are fast becoming obsolete as the western world faces a looming geopolitical shift as well as a climate crisis.

"We're going to hell in a handbasket...."

Mortensen Delves Into America's Cowboy Mentality
By Katherine Monk
Ottawa Citizen
7 September 2008

Hopkins was ahead of his time as a humane horse-trainer and endurance rider. He was also an example of what I have seen in cowboys (and cowgirls) I have met and admired among Argentines, Uruguyans, Moroccans, Algerians, Egyptians, the French, New Zealanders, Australians, Icelanders, Lakota, Blackfeet, Apache, Quebecois, and so on: a straightforward, open-minded, and ethical individual. I think it is a wonderful thing to see the apparent revival (again) of the "Western" genre in the movies, but it might be worth keeping in mind that neither cowboys nor stories in the "Western" genre are exclusively an area of expertise or solely of relevance to North Americans. Making "Westerns" can be as positive or negative, as universal or narrow-minded as the stories they portray. Making good "Westerns" can mean being on the right track, but, as Will Rogers said:

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

Viggo's Golden Boot Award Acceptance Speech
By Viggo Mortensen
11 August 2007

Quotable Viggo: 20 February 2011

The Oscars are upon us again and this year we've been spared the roller-coaster of 'will-he/won't-he' nomination angst. Which was nowhere near as stressful as the 'will-he/won't-he' angst we had when made the running for Eastern Promises. Viggo described awards as a 'crap-shoot' in a Newsarama interview in 2009, and has confessed that he 'would rather see San Lorenzo win the tournament than get an Oscar' (Gente, 2008), but we have still nurtured our hopes. Now we are a year away from The Road and even further from Appaloosa, EP and A History of Violence, perhaps we can now take a stress-free look back at what might have been...

Image Macall Polay
©2929/Dimension Films

The Road

The look in Viggo's eyes secures his nomination, I feel confident. It's going to take a lot of wry grins, curmudgeonly scowls, and other baked ham recipes for any other actor to match the depths this role fathoms.

Ryan Adams
Awards Daily
October 2009

Mortensen's performance as the lead is simply unforgettable and a sure lock for an Oscar nomination.

19 October 2009

Mortensen is long overdue for an Oscar win and if this film doesn't earn him that honor, there really is little justice (or sense) in the Academy voting system. Hearing the cast and crew talk about the actor's strict dedication to the part is downright inspiring.

Kofi Outlaw
24 November 2009

This is easily the best movie at the Toronto Film Festival and is not only well-made, but has some of the most disturbing scenes I have ever witnessed (people around me were covering their faces in horror). Viggo Mortensen's performance is definitely Oscar-worthy and so is John Hillcoat's directing. Do yourself a favor, see this movie as soon as it becomes available. And be ready to cry, scream and enjoy yourself.

The Best Movies from Toronto Film Festival
13 September 2009

Viggo Mortensen delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as a man whose humanity and strength of will must outlast the end of civilization.

Peter Howell
Toronto Star
13 September 2009

Viggo Mortensen gives one of his most haunting and emotional performances in "The Road," the post-apocalyptic tale from the pen of the great American author, Cormac McCarthy, whose book "No Country for Old Men" deservedly won the 2007 Best Picture Oscar. It may be premature, but I think that Viggo Mortensen's work in this tough, relentlessly grim but ultimately humanistic picture should get a serious consideration comes Oscar time.

Emmanuel Levy
Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

The Road features, what I consider to be, the best male performance of the year in Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen reveals fear like no actor I've ever seen. But it isn't just his gaunt, frightened face - it's the love in his eyes, the tragedy that lays before them, the impossibility of his situation.

Sasha Stone
Awards Daily
20 January 2010


With the moustache of the year (that should be an award), Mortensen turned a rather standard best-friend part into a quiet tour de force.

Oscar nominations 2009
Scott Taverner
January 2009

Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." While Appaloosa is your everyday western, Viggo Mortensen is no ordinary actor. Mortensen's Oscar-class performance as Everett Hitch was masterful as a poetic yet fierce officer of the law. He "spoke softly," but his big stick was an 8-gauge shotgun......Playing Hitch, Mortensen is horrifically convincing as a cool customer who is not only intelligent but quick on the gun and knows when to pick his battles.

Parimal M. Rohit
19 September 2008

Eastern Promises

It's a watershed role for Mortensen and, such is the commitment he offers, it's not too rash to compare his performance to Robert De Niro's Oscar-winning turn as the young Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II.

I've taken on too much...
by James Mottram, The Independent / UK.
23 October 2007

Here is my personal take on the Oscar-nominated performances I believe will survive the "test" of time:

As driver/hitman Nikolai Luzhin, Viggo Mortensen not only mastered the Russian accent and dare to bare much more than his soul. He immersed himself into the mind of this man born and raised in the former Soviet Union, a dark figure with more good to him than anyone around him can even imagine. Mortensen played Nikolai as a real person (living in a very raw London, thanks to David Cronenberg's direction) and his idealization of this character other actors have similarly played to over-the-top results in many crime stories is among the best in the genre, ever.

Johnny Alba
The Oscar Igloo
7 February 2008

Any clip from the bath house scene would make the best darned Oscar clip ever.

Daniel Feinberg
23 December 2007

Most noticeably, Viggo Mortensen as the quietly timid yet dangerously terrifying mob driver Nikolai, gives an Oscar caliber performance of both restrained humility and fear. When you look into Mortensen's eyes, you're convinced that he's come to terms with the fact that he's condemned to eternal damnation and is living his life accordingly. His performance is chilling and mesmerizing, perhaps the greatest of his career.

Jake Hamilton
That movie guy Blog
10 Sept 2007

A History of Violence

'Viggo Mortensen probably gave the best performance I have seen in a motion picture in as long as I can remember in A History of Violence .... Bill Hurt got a nomination for a rather bizarre, overly done performance in that film, but Viggo Mortensen is probably the premier actor in the business.'

Dale Olson, publicist
Oscar, You Insensitive Lout
by Sara Vilkomerson, New York Observer,
February 2006

Quotable Viggo: 13 February 2011

Seeing Viggo make Virgin Media's Extreme Preparation list for Eastern Promises reminded me of Cronenberg's amused dismay that his lead star was gadding about Russia all on his own. When you think about it, you could make up the entire extreme preparation list from Viggo's work alone. But let's stick with all things Russian for now and take a look at all that travelling in the name of research, and how fantastically well it paid off. It's also an excuse for two of my favourite Cronenberg EP quotes.

© Focus Features.

The typical Hollywood leading man travels with an entourage between his palatial homes, five-star hotel suites and luxury trailers. He does not disappear alone for two weeks to meet the Russian mafia in the name of research.

Actor joins the underworld's shadowy cast
Ben Hoyle
The Times
October 17, 2007

"You say, 'Well, where's Viggo today?' " says David Cronenberg, recalling the conversation that happened more than once on the London shoot, last year, of the exceptionally fine new thriller, Eastern Promises. "And they say, 'Oh, he's in St. Petersburg.'

"And you say, 'What!? I thought he was at the hotel.'"

Star's Eastern Immersion Impresses His Director
By Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
16 September 2007

"I know everyone was a little bit worried because I disappeared for two weeks. They said I should have someone go with me into the underworld, but the whole point of me of going was not to get a filtered version of what Russians do and what they're like. "I just wanted to draw my own conclusions."

Viggo on his trip to Russia
13 Sept 2007

"...the production people were kind of scared because I disappeared for two weeks and I came back right before shooting started. And they said: 'Phew, it's great that this guy made it back, otherwise we would have been screwed'"

Viggo Mortensen
The Univision Interview
By - transcribed/translated by Graciela
23 September 2007

"He went away and immersed himself in that world, and spent time with a lot of very disreputable Russian people! I wrote the lines but the heart and soul of Nikolai is really from Viggo."

Scriptwriter Steven Knight
Eastern Promises Production Notes
20 August 2007
Source: Focus Features

"I went far, far away, to the center of the country, where Europe ends and Asia starts, because that's where the character comes from more or less, although maybe he hasn't been there for a long time, that's his place of origin."

Viggo Mortensen
The Univision Interview
By - transcribed/translated by Graciela
23 September 2007

"I met some people who were marvellous, who had backgrounds like my character, who had been in prison and were no longer involved with that life - or maybe they were, I was never sure," says the actor.

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

"On the road, I also met people with a shady past, who introduced me, for example, to the tradition of tattoos with which Russian criminals mark their bodies. Not as decoration, but to signify their status within the hierarchy. In the film, I have 43 tattoos - and when I entered a Russian pub in London, wearing a T-Shirt, some people nervously changed their places. That made me very happy."

Viggo Mortensen
The Outsider
By Roland Huschke - translated by Sally
January 2008

"I was pretty much ready to start shooting, but when I arrived in Russia, I was better able to find the tone of the character, and I saw many things that cannot be put into writing. I like to do an in-depth preparation, just like David, then throw that out of the window and count on what is left in the subconscious. You have to count on what you have done and think that it will be there. There is no need to worry if you have prepared thoroughly."

Viggo Mortensen
Although I will never be another person, it's nice to try"
By Teresa Sala - translated by Graciela
Diario de Noticias de Alava
22 Sept 2007

During the film shoot, Mortensen had with him artefacts that he had brought back from Russia - including worry beads made in prison from melted-down plastic cigarette lighters. He decorated his trailer with copies of Russian icons and created an atmosphere that was conducive to maintaining his character.

Eastern Promises Production Notes
Focus Features
20 August 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

He also went for a walkabout in the Urals. "We kind of worried he'd never come back and we'd never find out what happened to him, until we'd probably find him running the country eventually," says Cronenberg...

The Great Dane
Men's Vogue
By Phoebe Eaton
March 2008

It wasn't until the last day of his research trip, he says, that his cover was blown:

"A little boy started staring at me, then he pointed and whispered, 'Aragorn?' "

The Promise of Viggo Mortensen
By Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
10 September 2007

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