As a little Easter Treat, this week is Anecdote Week. Nothing short or pithy (or new) here! All of these are stories about encounters with Viggo and they are all longstanding favourites of mine.
In the diner, he asks for the time. (He doesn't wear a watch says. Ninety minutes later, we pull up to the departure gates at the airport. I begin to say goodbye. But no, Mortensen is coming in with me. Way earlier in the day, in our first ten minutes together, I mentioned that I forgot my driver's license and that some drama ensued at LaGuardia Airport. He's coming in with me to make sure I get on my flight. He thinks maybe he'll know one of the TSA agents, but when we get to security, he knows no one. Nor do they know him.
The TSA cop wants to know what I was doing in Syracuse for just eight hours. She thinks I'm a drug dealer. At this, Viggo starts to laugh. I tell her I'm a writer and had to interview someone. "Huh." She looks Mortensen up and down. "Are you famous or something?"
On the other side of the security rope, Mortensen couldn't be happier
Why Viggo Mortensen Is Off the Grid
By Lisa DePaulo
25 May 2016
A really nice box-office clerk (Im not naming names) at a downtown Madrid theater discovers that Viggo Mortensen, whose girlfriend, a famous Spanish film star, was acting in a version (very poor, to be sure) of a famous play which was playing right there, has come to buy a ticket.
Quite possibly, Mortensen could have asked his partner for an invitation and that would have been that. Instead, he insisted on paying like any regular guy. The box-office clerk recognised him, and smiling, gave him a guest ticket. How much do I owe you? said Mortensen in his cheerful Argentinian accent. No, no, nothing, you are invited, answered the box-office clerk. The Hollywood star thanks her cordially, goes, and ten minutes later returns with an ice cream for the box-office clerk! He insisted that she should take it, although she said she was on a diet, so he sweetened her afternoon. Anyway, when I grow up, I want to be Viggo Mortensen.
Where I said Viggo (Mortensen), I say Diego (Alatriste)
By Juan Luis Sánchez - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
25 November 2011
An interesting photo made by Viggo Mortensen. We were shooting a very rarely photographed "Ghost Dance" by our amazing tribe members who participated in the film. Viggo, a renowned still photographer, had forgotten his camera that day and asked our unit stills photographer, Richard Cartwright, if he might borrow a camera and some color neg film. The unit photographer gave Viggo his Hasselblad panoramic camera... the 15 perf 35mm version. Viggo snaked around the set with the shutter open and he was amazing to watch. His movements were very similar to that of the Native American Ghost Dancers and he captured these incredible handheld abstract time exposures. Absolutely amazing. Fast-forward about 6 months and my phone rings. Viggo is on the other end and invites me to a gallery show featuring some Native American photos, music and poetry that he has authored during the making of "Hidalgo". When I arrive at the gallery, I see the show is entirely composed of marvelously printed images from the ghost dance... amazingly saturated and 8 feet wide. Stunning! At the show, I run into Richard, who loaned Viggo his camera to shoot these same stills. I ask him; "Did Viggo borrow only one roll of film?" Yes... only a single roll. Well, the show was comprised of 16 photographs that were double wide (15 perfs instead of 7) which meant that the collection represented nearly every photo that Viggo shot that day. 16 of the 18 total exposures from the single film roll. Mind blowing.
Shelly Johnson, Hidalgo cinematographer
23 March 2017
Viggo Mortensen's temporary headquarters during the Toronto Film Festival were bare except for one corner, where there was a sculpture assembled from a plastic grocery-store bag draped over a tripod.....While Mortensen used the restroom, I tried to decide if the bag-on-tripod sculpture was a comment on our throwaway culture or a meditation on the relationship between art and reality. Turns out it was his luggage.
"Want to see my luggage?" Mortensen asked, emerging from his hand-washing and following my gaze to the "sculpture." "Let's see what's in here," he added, removing underwear, several T-shirts - one with fishing records on it, another emblazoned with "Bring Our Troops Home" - and a United Nations flag from the bag. "I travel light."
Renaissance man jousts with career-changing role
By Chris Hewitt,
28 September 2005
Even Mortensen's memories of early childhood are deeply spiritual. He tells me about the time he crawled into the woods and fell asleep. "I was sleeping under a tree, and it was very peaceful," he says. "And then a dog started barking, and that's how my parents found me."
You are always escaping, I say.
Yeah, he says. He calls his mother - on my cell phone, because he doesn't have one - to double-check his recollection. "Hi, it's Viggo. Sorry to be calling so late," he says. "Oh shit. You're in the middle of it? That's funny. Is it the tape? [She was watching a tape of The Two Towers.] O.K., sorry, it's just a quick question and then I'll let you get back to what you're doing. Remember there were a couple of times I ran away? And the time the dog came and found me in the woods? How old was I then? About one and a half. O.K. But, anyway, the dog came and found me and I was sitting under a tree? Happy? Sleeping, right?"
Big look of consternation.
"I was sitting in the middle of the woods crying? I thought I was sleeping. Are you sure?"
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
Bloom tells a story that occurred when the Rings crew returned to New Zealand in the summer of 2002 for sound dubbing and pickups for The Two Towers. "I flew over just to visit Viggo," says Bloom, who had heard that Mortensen was organising a reunion dinner. He, Mortensen and Henry, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler (who plays Arwen), and members of the crew took a bus to the countryside. After dinner, Bloom and Henry went for a walk and noticed how beautifully the moon was shining on a nearby river.
"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, 'F*** 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."
The Hero Returns
by Tom Roston
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
Viggo the Hero
DVDrama, Cannes Film Festival Report
17 May 2005
I order a margarita. He orders a whiskey and a beer. The waiter sees a notepad on the table and his celebrity antennae pop up like Ray Walstons extraterrestrial ones in My Favorite Martian.
So just who is interviewing who? the waiter asks us. This is a formality. Hes pretty sure that this is the guy from The Lord of the Rings. I start to reply, but Mortensen holds up his hand. She has just set the world record for the longest distance windsurfed by a human being, he says, tilting his head in my direction.
No! the waiter gasps.
She windsurfed from Hawaii to the mainland, he continues. Sure, there was a boat that followed her, and she slept at night, but still. Thats what, how many miles? He looks at me.
Um, thirty-seven hundred? I say. I have no idea.
And not even a man has done that yet, Mortensen tells the waiter. Isnt that cool?
The waiter asks me to sign a menu.
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
We wander our way to the Japanese garden, where the cherry blossoms bloom and sit on a steep grass bank. As is his wont wherever and whenever possible, Viggo wears no shoes. He spots an oval-headed balding man, with wisps of gray hair, walking with two younger women.
"Is that Arthur Miller?" he whispers. "Wait till we see his face."
We watch, and even before we see his face, we agree that there is something about the way this man walks that is not the way we somehow know Arthur Miller would walk. And the women are somehow not the women Arthur Miller would walk with in a Japanese garden.
"Let's just say it was," Viggo says, and by this I don't think for a moment he is suggesting that we should conspire to lie about it. Just that, with some willpower and a creative refusal to join the dots and draw a line we will no longer be able to cross, we can delay even this small disappointment and keep alive our moment in the park with Arthur Miller a little while longer.
As this is still Sword Week (Sword Fortnight?) I thought we’d stay with the swash and buckle and go into battle with Aragorn. Helm’s Deep, Pelennor Fields, The Black Gate – shooting was often grim but Viggo gave it his all, doing everything the stunt guys did and losing a tooth along the way. When The Two Towers hit the movie screens I don’t think I breathed during the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Audiences had never seen anything like it. The stunt work was incredible and Viggo’s convincing performance was the magic that made it all so real. And who could ever forget him, single-handed, turning a rearing horse at the Black Gate while holding up a five foot sword?
'Viggo was working on this battle sequence,' recalls Elijah Wood of the film's ostensible action hero. '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.'
Ringleader - Viggo Mortensen
By Ian Nathan
Is it physically and emotionally draining doing such grand and elaborate battle sequences?
You kind of get withered, but you're doing it with a team so everyone's going for it. If everyone was sitting on their ass in the background, that would be one thing. But the way this movie was made, every button, every bit of embroidery, sword, knife, shoe, horse, and every bit of choreography appear 100 per cent. I've never seen that and I'm not sure I ever will again, to that degree. If you do get really tired, somebody will come lend you a hand. It was definitely a team job.
The One King
By Bryan Cairns
Film Review Yearbook (Special #49)
“…when we did the charge of the Elves at Helm's Deep… it reminded me a lot of Kurosawa. In fact, I wanted to use Elvish commands. Using that language, and some of those fighting styles, made it feel a little like a Samurai movie. It was a hodgepodge of different fighting styles, and total mayhem.”
Hail To The King
By Lawrence French
[The Battle of Helm's Deep] takes place mostly at night, and it was so complex that we filmed for about four months of nights," Jackson continues, "Viggo was fantastic. He just threw himself into it tirelessly. Every night he'd come along and just fight some more.”
Fangora Magazine #217
"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?'"
The Hero Returns
By Tom Roston
“I wanted to do as many stunts as possible myself. Luckily, over time, I became very friendly with the stuntmen. By knowing each other well, we could go faster and faster without hurting ourselves.”
Viggo Mortensen: The Soul of a Warrior
By Juliette Michaud
“…the amazing stunt team played the enemy at all times. The battle scenes are very elaborate, people going berserk night and day. Even in the background, thousands of people going completely nuts.”
By Simon Braund
Australian Empire magazine
"We shot for three and half months straight of night shoots in the cold, wet weather. And that was pretty tough for everybody concerned. But it kind of drew everyone together at the same time. It created kind of a special bond with people who went through that together."
Viggo talking about The Two Towers
Ready for Round 2
By David P DeMar, Jr
Watertown Daily Times
15 December 2002
Were those battle sequences [for The Return Of The King] harder to shoot?
Yes, because I had to wear armour and chain skirts and the horse made it harder, too. The sword is heavy when you're riding a horse holding it. But it shouldn't be like Errol Flynn, it should be hard and look hard.
Total Film magazine
In Return of the King, the sword Mortensen uses is different from what we've seen before. "It's a different kind of sword, since some of the fighting is different," explains Mortensen of the switch in weapons. "It's heavier. It's bigger, so it's a little harder to handle. It's mostly a two-handed sword and fighting one-handed is a little different than fighting with the other one, which is lighter, and moves through the air a little bit faster. But the advantage when you're going for broke with that slightly more massive sword is that once you get going with it, it does a lot of damage."
King Of The Ring
By Melissa J Perenson
Sci Fi magazine
“As big a battle as the Black Gate is, or coming in with those reinforcements at the Pelennor Fields, is the conclusion of his psychological battle, when he confronts the dead. That is, in a way, his biggest struggle.”
By Jeffrey Overstreet, Steven D Greydanus, Bob Smithouser & Jeremy Landes
5 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.
15 December 2002
On the very last day of shooting Aragorn fighting the orcs, Peter quietly gave Viggo an Uzi, loaded with blanks, for the last take.
Unsung Moments & Unseen Heroes of
The Lord of the Rings