Among his colleagues, Viggo Mortensen breaks the mould with his personality. He came to the festival to support Jauja of the Argentine Lisandro Alonso, and said: "Films like this one reconcile me with my profession."
© 4L Productions.
There's a temperature of 10 degrees, lightning in the sky and a hurricane-like wind that depopulated the beaches in Cannes. In the harbour area, where yachts, boats and other nautical luxuries tie up, there´s a stand erected for the press which is reached by a kind of pier. In jeans and a t-shirt, Viggo Mortensen stands the cold. The Dane (although also North American and Argentine) knows about cold and says that "this is the Caribbean." He´s arrived for only 48 hours at the Festival and "to give Lisandro some support." Translation: Viggo rushed from Madrid to Cannes to back up Jauja, the film of the Argentine Lisandro Alonso that is competing in the auteurs section of "Un Certain Regard"
Not many of your colleagues do what you do...
What do you mean?
I mean this question of saying "here!," "you can count on me." There are a lot of egos...
But how am I not going to be here when it´s a film that gave me so much pleasure to do. I almost asked Lisandro to keep me in mind for it. Look, I´m 55 years old, I like doing the films I want to see.
What is that about you asking him to keep you in mind?
I´m a close friend of Fabián Casas, a poet and writer with whom, in addition, we share - almost in a sick way - the San Lorenzo colours. He told me that his friend Lisandro, whom I had met, was preparing a film with his script and they asked me to participate. We met, they told me the idea for the film, rather experimental, about a mythological legend called Xauxa. They said that my role would be that of a Danish soldier and we began a very interesting team work. I got very carried away. I even collaborated with some music that I play in it.
In his soft porteño, Viggo speaks with a lack of haste and in Cannes that´s a bad word, since here everything is a whirlwind, a frenzy, and just a few minutes. "I´m a little tired of the time in festivals. I like to enjoy myself more, and if I´m talking with you I don´t want to look at the watch nor at the person who´s making signals behind," he says firmly and without tape recorder.
You had already suggested it in Everybody Has a Plan, the film that brought you back to Argentina. Do you enjoy these simple productions more, ones that are not as impressive as for instance The Lord of the Rings or The Road?
Could be. I´m at a stage in life where I prioritize the traditional craft above the industrial. The detail of a gesture, or the natural sound of a windmill more than the special effects of a monster. I´m grateful to Hollywood, but I also escape from it; it´s damaging to only consume those kind of movies.
What else do you need?
To be treated with respect, with affection, like a person. And where they also allow me to participate with ideas, decisions...Lisandro, whom I admire and see things of (David) Cronenberg in him, gave me a lot of space in the conception of the film.
Lisandro Alonso won´t be able to believe it. All your praise and you starring in his first film with professional actors.
It´s not a favour that I´m doing to Lisandro, he has an immense talent. Jauja is a film to make you think, to savour. It has nothing to do with all the circus you can see in Cannes. I came here because I´m proud to have been part of this work.
What did making a more experimental film like Jauja bring to you?
Forgiving myself as an actor, because I´ve made mistakes several times, made some wrong decisions. And Jauja reconciled me with the craft.
That´s what the actor of Lord of the Rings, Eastern Promises, and who portrayed Freud has to say...? It sounds like a joke.
Despite sounding like a cliché, I´m a rather normal guy. There are moments for every film: for tanks, for auteur films, for more experimental ones. But I choose stories that solve questions like "what do I want from myself in the performance?" or "Is it the professional life that I want?."
I imagine you don´t have a good relationship with fame...
I´ve learned to live with it. I have no other option. To be or having been a part of Hollywood has its pros and cons. The advantage is to understand you are inside a bubble and to know how to run from it. The cons is that sometimes you are not aware and stay permanently in a lie. Hollywood is there, we have heard about it, but it doesn´t exist, it´s a fiction, like Jauja.