2005

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The MSNBC Viggo Mortensen Interview

, 20 September 2005

Source: MSN/Tribute TV - transcription by Chrissie


Viggo I have to tell you...you were absolutely spectacular in this movie and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time..not knowing. I found it so intense. Was this the most intense character you've ever played and just preparing for him...how did you go about it?

Umm, well, I mean I've been lucky to play a lot of interesting characters over the years but in some sense, especially because this movie was in the hands of David Cronenberg, who, you know, creates an atmosphere that's relaxed and allows you to explore and not feel constrained. Um, you know, you're in good hands. You feel you can take some chances. I did get to, mostly in really subtle ways I guess, but to try things. There are a lot of elements packed into this story and into each of the characters so, you know, in some sense it was maybe the most satisfying experience in terms of building a character with the help of a director and interacting with what I think is a really great cast and I don't think I've had a better or, let me say, more complete experience from start to finish. And when I saw the movie, the final version of it, every aspect of it was in just the right place. You know what I mean? From the music to the interaction of the people, the look of it. It was one of those fortunate, great compromises that you don't see that often.

Absolutely. I think this movie's faultless. There's not anything extra in this movie. It's just perfect. It really is. But I'm wondering for you to play a guy like this, I don't want to give away too much obviously because that's all the intensity of it, it's hard to talk about it, but in your own mind to play somebody who is so calm and then snap! Do we all have that in us? Do we all have violence in us?

Yeah, I think that's just life. I mean, I think everybody has the potential to behave that way. But this story's a lot, as you probably know, it's a lot more complicated than just a movie that, I suppose in the hands of a lesser director, would have been a movie about some extraordinary, shocking, artfully-shot, violent, you know, physical...physically violent moments. It's about, you see the family's tested and you see it sort of unravel and you see what the effect is on the community and on each individual. I think you start to realise that it's always there, you know, and violence doesn't have to be that someone slaps somebody or shoots somebody, or even that somebody screams at somebody. It's in subtle things. It's in your reaction to someone. It's in your not listening to somebody. It's in your not respecting somebody. It's in a person not feeling like they have control over their own life. It could be even the daughter that we have, you know, at some point she sort of, without ruining it, she takes a step towards the end, that's like, surprising. That's asserting your own will in some way. I think it's a struggle of wills. I mean, that's life. Any conversation with anybody is sort of a jockeying for position. So I think it's a lot more complicated than that.

Absolutely...

The short answer is yes [Laughs]

But I liked the long answer. Just very quickly...your scenes with Maria are very intense. She told me last time I spoke to her that she was nervous coming to the set...she was shaking. How did you guys put her at ease?

Well I was nervous too [laughs], you know. I assume you're referring to the more intimate scenes but it wasn't just that. There are a lot of scenes where things start to unravel and, you know, it's like it happens with people in more mundane circumstances too. There's that jockeying for position but you're always trying composing or recomposing who you are and even dealing with someone you really know well you get used to dealing with people in a certain way. You get into patterns, or habits, and then things happen that take you out of it. You have a bad day or the other person says something or does something that surprises you, like, 'that's odd!' And you have to sort of rethink everything, in that moment. And she was very brave I thought. I think she did a great job and I really...I mean, the best thing you can say about another actor is that you can't really picture, and don't even want to attempt to, someone else playing the role. I really think she nailed it and I know she was nervous, especially nervous about those scenes, you know, the intimate ones. But she was very brave, I think, especially considering that.

Well you both nailed it I have to tell you and if we don't see you up there for best Oscar nod next year I will cut off watching the Oscars forever. Thank you very much.

Thank you, good to see you.
Last edited: 21 September 2005 08:33:19
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