For the past few months we've had a feast of new quotes from all the latest work Viggo has been doing. As a counterpoint I've decided to revisit some of the early films, before LotR opened all those new doors. It's evident that no matter what the film, Viggo always made an impression with the directors and always brought something fresh and unexpected. His approach, refined over the years, has never essentially changed and has always earned respect.
© Miramax/Zenith/Westmount/Neo Motion Pictures/Overseas Film Group
New Line Cinema/Miramax Films/Village Roadshow/Empire Pictures.
That part, which was supposed to be a one-day job, expanded into a speaking role as Alexander Godunov's younger Amish brother.
"I was basically told to shadow him," Mortensen recalled, laughing. "So wherever he went, I followed."
Sensitive Side of Psycho
By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun Times
16 December 1998
"...in 1988, my first American movie was actually called PRISON and I found a young guy who had only done a couple of bit parts and nobody knew him. He had done nothing before of any note and I made him the star of my movie PRISON. His name was Viggo Mortensen. I really like working with people that I believe in, who can bring something fresh to a film."
Interview with Director Renny Harlin
8 June 2009
Leatherface: Texas Chain Saw Massacre 111
"I brought him in because I had seen him in PRISON, which a friend of mine had written. And I thought he was great in that, and I thought he was a really interesting guy. I knew who he was, so I brought him in..... Deborah Moore, the executive in charge of production had a guy that she really thought highly of, and he actually was cast very briefly as Tex.
Then he booked a very high paying commercial that would've conflicted with the first day of shooting. So, I said you have to pick one or the other, because I need you totally there on the first day. So, he chose the commercial. (Laughs) So, I was able to get Viggo, so it all worked out. And Viggo, just like everyone else in the cast was always there, ready to go and had great ideas. Just a joy to work with, and I'm not just saying that. I can guarantee his approach to stuff now is exactly the same as it was then. He's just so committed and he's such a really good guy. All the family members were great."
Interview with Director Jeff Burr
Icons of Fright
by Robg. & Mike C
Young Guns 11
"It's amazing what he brought to that role," Fusco says. "I remember I was in my hotel room in Santa Fe, and there's this knock on the door pretty late at night. I open it, and there was Viggo holding a rifle. He said, 'I got some ideas about the scope my character would have on his rifle. Do you have a minute?' He came in, and he sat down dead serious and showed me this conversion he'd done to an historically accurate scope. He said, 'With all the copper mining in these parts, I think it would be copper.' I remember thinking, 'Wow, this guy is serious. He's really got it.'"
6 August 2010
The Reflecting Skin
Mortensen doesn't appear until an hour has passed - but when he does he immediately marks himself as one of those actors who doesn't need fancy lighting to be incandescent. Cast as a young man returning from the Pacific (where he dropped bombs on sleepy atolls), he displays surly, distant passion that's at odds, yet perfectly in step, with a small town that is seething beneath its bucolic veneer.
Viggo Mortensen Interview
by Martha Frankel
The Indian Runner
"I was over at Robin [Wright]'s little house in Santa Monica Canyon, waiting for her to get dressed for a date. The television was on, sound off, and I saw a face: he was only a cameo in a movie, but I saw the face that I'd had in my head when I wrote Indian Runner. He had something, an angularity, a severity to his handsomeness that I perceived as being 'like Frank'. So I watched the movie through, and I called Don and said, 'Find out who he is.'"
When Viggo Met Sean
7 Sept 2007
"He was dazzlingly committed all the time. He literally brings the kitchen sink for a character," says Penn, who delighted in seeing Mortensen arrive on set each day with a "Santa Claus sack" full of various props he'd chosen. "He's an often solitary, very poetic creature, Viggo, and all of that worked [for the movie]."
by Missy Schwartz
August 19, 2005
"I wasn't having an easy time finding work at this time in my career, but because of my background I had some understanding of what this character could be and what the background was like.... I loved working with Al Pacino. He was unusually generous for someone in his position. He has a very open mind, and a very open heart."
"I especially enjoyed working with our cast, particularly Viggo and Ryo, both of whom I hope to someday get a chance to work with again if the Fates should allow it. I didn't need Lord of the Rings to know Viggo was a prince."
Richard Clabaugh, Cinematographer for American Yakuza
"He explores to the infinite, not only the character's emotions but also the wardrobe, all the things. He's so honest and generous,"
José Luis Acosta
Chiaroscuro: Viggo, Light And Dark
By Rocio Garcia
El Pais, Translated by Graciela, Remolina, Sage and Zooey
17 May 2009
In the movie, he is caught between a rock and hard place in the deadly confrontation between Hackman and Washington. Mortensen offers a restrained, dignified and incredible solid performance: the voice of reason in the power play of the two main characters.
The Guy Can't Help It
By Manuela Cerri Goren
L'Uomo Vogue #270
The Passion of Darkly Noon
'Viggo is one of the few people I've worked with who, I feel, is a true kindred spirit. From the moment we first met - when I was casting The Reflecting Skin in Los Angeles - it was as if we'd known each other all our lives. He understands my work totally. By the time we were doing Darkly Noon I hardly had to give him a word of direction. He knew instinctively what I wanted. '
Philip Ridley at the Tokyo International Film Festival
From "The American Dreams: Two Screenplays by Philip Ridley'
Hailed as 'mordantly witty', a young vaguely edgy actor named Viggo Mortensen wound up stealing the remainder of the film from Walken, creating one of the most memorable embodiments of evil ever put to screen.
On "The Prophecy'
His Occult Fellowship,
by Lisa Maccarillo
Fangoria magazine #208, 2001
The Portrait of a Lady
Jane Campion, who directed The Portrait of a Lady, says Mortensen was shy at first. "Nicole [Kidman] and I had to beat him up. We called him Kiddie just to try and get him to treat us like pals. Of course, eventually we warmed him up so much we couldn't control him."
The Virtuoso Bad Boy Takes a Gentlemanly Turn in The Portrait of a Lady
by Jodie Burke
UK Premiere Magazine 1997
For Mortensen's first scene, in which his character addresses some 40 prospective SEALs, Scott was looking for something more unusual than a normal drill instructor's spiel. Mortensen brought in a short D. H. Lawrence poem ('I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself...') that the director says showed richer and more intriguing sides of a character whose ensuing act of violence are so horrific that many viewers may not get past them. The poem, in fact becomes a crucial part of the film. For a key scene in which Mortensen's character gives a copy of the book to Demi Moore's character, the actor used his own dog-eared copy.
by Steve Pond
US Magazine #236, 1997
A Perfect Murder
Because of his role Mortensen had to face an interesting phenomenon: Would David Shaw's images reflect the artistic feelings of himself, Viggo Mortensen or do they belong to the character of David Shaw?
"I think both are right", answered Mortensen, "I didn't have time to occupy myself too much with this duality. I think that the artwork represents on the one hand my own subconsiousness and on the other hand my ideas on who David is."
Warner Brothers German Press Release
Translated by always smiling
A Walk on the Moon
"When I saw some of Viggo's work, I thought, that's always who I've had in my head. I realized there is not one other actor anywhere who could play Viggo's part other than Viggo. He has this kind of complexity and mysteriousness to him. He doesn't have to say much and you get a lot."
Tony Goldwyn, Director of A Walk on the Moon
Actor Goldwyn side-stepped cliches for summer of '69 directorial debut
By Robin Blackwelder
February 24, 1999