© Viggo Mortensen.
Monday the 27th of May the rumor that had been present in the city was confirmed: the American movie actor was in Rio Gallegos. It was not clear why, but he was, and his presence had to do with a filming in the area in the vicinity of Laguna Azul (located 60 km south of Rio Gallegos). There were rumors of a press conference, which were later refuted by the organization. So only one objective remained: How to meet Aragorn, the Dunedain (his character in the film trilogy, The Lord of the Rings), or rather, Viggo Mortensen, the actor with the starring role in Peter's Jackson's film trilogy which is considered one of the biggest cinema projects ever undertaken, with a total revenue of more than 2.9 billion dollars. That complete project lasted eight [sic] years, with simultaneous filming of the three movies and was filmed entirely in Jackson's native land, New Zealand. This series of three films was acclaimed by the critics, winning a total of 17 Oscars, 10 BAFTAs and four Golden Globes, as well as widespread praise for the cast and innovations in terms of digital special effects.
Is it worth doing an article on one of the most important actors in world cinema? The answer's on this page.
Beloved San Lorenzo
One of the complications the interview presented was the contract that prevented Viggo from giving interviews to the media while he was working on the film. TiempoSur was informed of this on its first try at requesting a possible article when the paper was warned that there was no possibility of getting responses from the actor and, if possible, that we not pursue the matter. But there was a plan "B." Things happen for a reason perhaps, because San Lorenzo had a date to play Argentine soccer the same day.
It was raining in Rio Gallegos and in the Hotel Patagonia, where he was staying for two days, the actor was seated, almost hidden in the lounge. He was wearing a jacket from his beloved club and was watching the possible explanations for a 2 -2 game against Unión de Santa Fe on television.
"No, no. No questions, please. I'm going to ask you not to take photos of me either, because they'll be posted later," said Mortensen and the possibility of an article was buried. What followed was to ask him for an autograph which would be witness to his presence, the photo was insisted upon and the refusal was firmer, but a promising phrase appeared: "Give me your email and I'll send you mine. That way you can send the questions so that I can answer them for you later, more calmly." Maybe it was simply meant as a graceful way for us to not bother him.
But, why not send the email? What could be lost? Or what could be gained? The answer is simple: to bring people the point of view of the star; that could be gained.
The great ones keep their word.
Despite doubt, the possibility exists that something might come out as hoped, but it's important to tip the balance toward the positive side of things, knowing that a smile isn't always a chance thing and that, sometimes, you can have a message from Viggo Mortensen in your inbox that says, "Hi. Here is the email address. If you want, send me some questions and I'll answer them for you. Thanks, Viggo." It was simple. The greatness and humility to answer questions was surprising, especially given that he accompanied them with four photos.
It was real and it happened in Rio Gallegos. Enjoy the interview.
Did you know Santa Cruz or Patagonia? What can you highlight from your visit to the south? And in case you have been here before, what differences do you see?
I was familiar with the part of Patagonia that´s more to the north; I had never been to Santa Cruz. When I was a kid, my father would take the family camping. We used to go to places like the Valdés Peninsula, to the west of the Chubut and the Rio Negro provinces. I loved that experience of long car trips crossing the desert. I remember some parts that resembled the images from American Westerns. I also liked the rivers and mountains of the pre-Andean area.
My dad is a hunter and a fisherman, so he took us to many very remote, beautiful places. He was in Santa Cruz on his own, and with geologist friends, he even explored some parts of Tierra del Fuego that were little known at the time. At the beginning of the Sixties, he went all over those provinces in the south. I´ve got fantastic black and white photos that he took during those journeys. The truth is that with the filming, we were only working near Laguna Azul for a couple of days. It´s a beautiful, strange landscape that reminded me of some parts of Iceland and the south of New Zealand; those are places in the world that I know very well. My wish is to come back and stay longer, to be able to travel around Santa Cruz.
What would you highlight from your life as an actor? What do you like best? What was or could be unpleasant to you?
What I like best about being an actor is being able to help to tell stories in movies and in the theatre. Everything that has to do with the preparation and study to construct a character in depth is interesting to me. Quite often, what happens during that time previous to filming is the best part of the whole process in my work as a film actor. At least during it, you are guaranteed to learn things and have a good time, without it mattering in the least as to the fate of the final product that reaches the screen. There´s very little that I don´t like about being an actor, an artist. I think I´m very lucky to be able to make a living from this profession, and it´s a privilege. I travel, I meet a great variety of people and landscapes, I continue learning from other points of view. Sometimes the amount of time it takes to promote the finished films, with a lot of interviews, photo sessions, can be a bit annoying, but I understand it and accept it as part of my job.
How are you with your artistic side nowadays? (He is known as a musician, poet, photographer and painter.)
I think I´m alright. I continue wanting to learn new things, and to do better the things I already know [how to do]. Whether you have a profession that's considered artistic or not, curiosity is indispensable if a person is to grow in life. As has been the case for so many years, this year I am acting, writing, publishing, taking photographs, and I keep looking all I can at other people´s art. I still travel a lot, and that's always inspiring for me.
That powerful trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, what did it leave you with as a film experience?
More than anything, beyond the public recognition that helped the careers of all of us who took part in that trilogy, what I value are the friendships that were forged and the memory of the magnificent landscapes we got to know during the long shoot.
What is your favorite film in world cinema? And among those you have worked on?
That's a tough question. There are many extraordinary, unique films. The answer depends on the genre and the moment in which you ask me the question. Sometimes you really want to see a comedy and at other times, a powerful drama, for example. A film that I've always liked, and that I've mentioned in other interviews, is The Passion of Joan of Arc from the Danish director, Carl T. Dreyer, released in 1928. In general, I like the films of Dreyer, of David Cronenberg, Tarkovsky, Sokurov, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Chaplin, Murnau, Bresson, Ozu, Berlanga, Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, Jane Campion, Luchino Visconti, Elia Kazan, Scorsese, Satyajit Ray, Iván Bielinsky, Hugo del Carril, Agnés Varda, and so many others. Even great directors make mistakes and make bad films from time to time, but I love all of Dreyer's.
I've been lucky in Argentine cinema. Lisandro Alonso is already recognized worldwide for his very personal, almost unclassifiable films, and I think that the movie we just finished filming with him could end up being very special. With her first feature film,Todos tenemos un plan, I think that Ana Piterbarg also shows herself to be a great talent of the new national cinema. While we were filming Lisandro's movie, I also saw several very good films on the INCAA (Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales) channel for the first time. Although it's a very young artistic medium, cinema already has more than a hundred years of history and there are many gems to be discovered in the history of Argentine and world cinema.
How would you describe that grand passion for San Lorenzo? Is it one of the engines of your personality for expressing moods?
Our great forward, "Pipi" Romagnoli, once said it so well. "San Lorenzo is an inexplicable feeling." And one of our supporters' most famous songs says it too. If CASLA loses, I'm devastated for a while and when they win, the world seems like a stupendous place. Whatever happens, I always calm down and am ready for the next game, for the next stage. I get excited depending on Ciclon's fortunes, but I'm not one to pick a fight with anyone. As a supporter, I've learned many things from the players and coaches that have passed through my club. I've learned to behave better, and to accept the triumphs as well as the disappointments. I've also learned a lot of things that you should not do if you want to be honest, brave and a good comrade. Soccer is a game, yes, just like life is a road to death. But there is much more to soccer than a ball and 22 guys chasing it, just like there is much more to life than our brief physical existence.
What can you tell us about the work that you were doing in Patagonia?
What we were filming in Santa Cruz was the last part of the movie, the end of the journey for my character, Captain Gunnar Dinesen, a Danish military man originally connected to the Argentine Army at the end of the 19th Century. In Rio Negro, we filmed scenes with Dinesen at the beginning of our story, with his daughter Ingeborg and several other Argentine characters, both of European origin as well as indigenous people. When Dinesen arrives at the extreme south of the country, he's already half desperate and maybe a little insane because of the hard journey in search of his missing daughter.
What message would you give to those in the city who are beginning to believe in their dreams, understanding that you can achieve things but with sacrifice?
There are so many dreams! I think you always have to look at the other side of the coin, trying to understand what makes other people tick and how you can relate to them in the best possible way. For better or for worse, the ideal thing is to give free rein to the dreams we have inside and respect those of the people around us. Since I was not in Río Gallegos for long, I cannot say I know the life of its inhabitants well, how the population really is. But the people I met treated me very well, and they seemed hard-working, humble and proud of their place in the world. From what I read in the local press, and what some people from the area told me, there are people who worry about the abundant natural wealth of the area, who are trying to support the protection of the environment and not just carelessly taking advantage of the natural resources. I also learned a bit about that in Río Negro, where I stayed longer.
As long as there´s a significant portion of people always thinking about the future of natural spaces, the abundant wealth that you have will last. The sincere effort to preserve your wonderful lands, rivers, flora and fauna is good for the lives of Patagonia´s future inhabitants, and also, in the long run, for the economy. I wish all of you luck with this.