© New Line Productions Inc.
The stories of elves and hobbits are finished for Viggo Mortensen. The ex-hero of Lord of the Rings surrounds himself with the dark realism of David Cronenberg's new movie, A History of Violence. A disturbing story in which the eccentric actor shows us a new face.
Was it very hard to play the villain?
VM: I'd already done it before. I've even played the devil. I've had similar turns in good movies, but none with the calibre of this one. In terms of being an actor, I don't see what more I could ask for. The plot is well-structured, attractive. Another director might have maybe exploited the situation to obtain a shocking result. But instead here, we search to have people reflect. Everything is very detailed, whether it be the violence, the sex, the human nature. It tells the most universal of stories. I've always admired the way in which David Cronenberg examines human beings, searching for what they're hiding.
Making the film wasn't too taxing?
VM: Cronenberg is strange, but he knows how to instil an atmosphere on many different levels that all lead to a climactic moment. He communicates very well. Everybody admires him, his team supports him. I didn't want to do a good job for him just for my own reasons or just because the story pleased me. I felt a real loyalty towards him, a desire that everything would go well for the film. That doesn't happen often.
Have you gotten in fights before?
VM: Yeah, but I've never killed anybody! In general, I avoid violence, I try to discuss things. If you hit someone or insult someone, you always wind up regretting it.
What makes you angry?
VM: Injustice. Whether it's directed against me or against those who can't defend themselves. Dishonesty. Cruelty. Manipulation. Egotism. Lack of respect for nature.
Your son is a teenager. Have you discussed the subject of violence with him?
VM: My son is very balanced. He is bigger and stronger than I am, he excels in the martial arts, but he's very calm. You have to really push him in order to make him mad. I often ask myself how he can be so reasonable (laughs). He's also very sure of himself, much more so than I was at his age.
You're considered a nonconformist, you have all sorts of artistic talents, you walk barefoot, etc. Do you care about other people's opinions?
VM: Today I'm wearing shoes and am well-dressed (laughs). I prefer to get lost in the crowd, but I tend to isolate myself, it's true. And if I go walk barefoot, it's because I enjoy it. People sometimes cultivate their differences to the extreme. I don't think to me more different than that. I do have an unconventional profession.
What effect does it have on you to be considered a hunk?
VM: If I paid attention and it bothered me, there wouldn't be much I could do about it.
You're passionate about photography, painting, poetry. What gives you this appetite for life?
VM: I'm curious! I'm interested in life outside of my job. Because I move a lot, I love to travel; I want to know where people come from, what they think. I can also imagine it all. Each person, each story. If I take a taxi, I ask the driver what his name is. I talk with him; ask him where he's from.
What do you do to stay in shape?
VM: I walk, I hike, and I love manual labour. I prefer outdoor activities: planting trees, riding horses, following a path in the woods. Gardening, running cross-country ot skiing, biking, playing soccer: it's exhausting, but I love it.
What are your priorities these days?
To devote more time to those close to me. To stop thinking, forming responses without taking the time to listen. It's good to take a break from time to time.