Interviews 2010

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Viggo Mortensen Premieres The Road: "Look at Haiti. What do I have to complain about?"

By Rafa Vidiella - translated by Ollie, Rio and Sage

2 February 2010

Source: 20 Minutos

The serious illness of his mother requires that Viggo Mortensen stay in the United States, and is the reason he withdrew from Purgatorio, which he was about to perform in February at the Teatro Español. Nevertheless, we will be able to see him beginning Friday in The Road, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.

© 2929/Dimension Films.
At first glance, it seems difficult to rise to the level of the original text...

That's true, but, as happened with the book, the film is going to touch people. In addition, in Spain, they will be promoting it as it is; in the United States, they were afraid to tell the truth.

What did you feel when you read the book?

I knew about McCarthy, but I wasn't able to read the novel when it was published. I was worn out and I needed to be with my family. Later, the script came to me; it was powerful, very good, and I ran out to buy the novel. I was pleased to confirm that the script had been faithful to McCarthy's poetry, to his tone which is stark, but full of feelings. I thought about how beautiful it would be to convey that relationship between father and son on the screen, and we succeeded.

What else attracted you?

As an actor, it was a challenge to play someone who was so sparing with words. Emotionally, it was hard; I had to make my feelings be silent, but as present as the scenery. Personally, I'm interested in exploring how people behave in extreme situations. If everything is taken away from you, the truth of what you carry inside comes out: you can be good or bad.

How would you be?

I like to think I would be honest and brave, but I don´t know. I would try to be compassionate. In The Road the child ends up reminding his father of the values he has lost because of fear. Fear makes you do terrible things: a lot of wars and killings are born out of fear of the other. The last few years have brought us the example of several governments that have brought us to war, to hatred, by manipulating people's fear.

What else is The Road?

It's also a beautiful story that conveys a lot of tender feelings. When I read it, it broke my heart. I felt sorrow, but also love for my family, for people who have died or who are suffering.

How did you work on your character?

I always do the same thing: I imagine where he was born, I invent his accent, I fantasize about what his life might have been up to the first page of the script and, when filming begins, I put everything out of my head and let connections between me, the character and the other actors come to light. I think this role was the major challenge of my career.

You, like him, are a father...

Yes, the movie made me think about my family, and how as years go by we set aside the values of idealism and courage. I have a strong relationship with my son, but as a father I've made mistakes. He's already 22, and I feel that I should have spent more time with him, given him more attention.

Does it do any good to look back?

That's another thing the film talks about: complaining less, appreciating what you have. Look at how it is in Haiti. What do I have to complain about? For the role, I also spoke with many homeless people, and I found people who were happier than many millionaires I know.

Will you return to the Teatro Español?

I've never stood up a production and I feel very bad, but right now it's impossible. The play was very good, and it was an honor to work there. I hope to be able to do it in the summer, at another time. Now, unfortunately, I have to stay here with my family.
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Last edited: 8 February 2010 11:10:14