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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Found By: Iolanthe

If you like a bonkers and rather bloody B movie then Renny Harlin’s Prison is for you, though it’s probably only appeared on most of our radars because Viggo is in it channelling ‘a James Dean vibe’ and… um… taking a shower. What’s not to enjoy? The film gathered a new audience and lots of new reviews when it was released on Blu-ray in 2013, bumping up my quotes quota enough to give the film the full Quotable works. It's pretty close to Halloween, after all!

Mortensen shows good leading man chops well before Hollywood took notice of him…

Shlockmania Blu-ray Prison review
18 February 2013

The film, shot on location in a prison in Wyoming, is certainly not a milestone of the genre, but it is entertaining with actors in a good situation - and, for the first time in his career, it gave Mortensen the chance to fully reveal his charisma.

Portrait: Viggo Mortensen - The Actor As Artist
By - translated by Sally
DVD Special (Germany)
June 2008

Before Viggo Mortensen became Aragorn and before Renny Harlin became known for helming such flashily forgettable action fare as The Long Kiss Goodnight and Driven, the two made sweet incarcerated horror music together with the aptly named Prison (1988). Well, not that sweet, but Prison does have the dubious distinction of being one of Harlin's best as well as the finest film to come out of the late '80s trend of the return of the vengeful executed (remember Wes Craven's Shocker?).

Haunted Prison
Independent Film Channel
30 October 2007

“When I was casting this little million-dollar horror movie, I really wanted to get good actors though to make it stand out. We saw something like eighty guys in Hollywood, guys you would know from TV and bit parts in movies, but they all felt like the same old thing and I was really frustrated. After we get done with the eighty guys in comes Viggo who had hardly done anything at that point, I think Witness was his only film but I just looked at him and thought please let him know how to act. My mantra was that I wanted to find the next James Dean and he was awesome, very low key and on the spot I said this is our guy.”

Director Renny Harlin
Daily Grindhouse
19 December 2011

“He was definitely somebody that people were keeping an eye on and what have you. He was this striking looking guy and he really was a good guy and still is. He’s just a very nice person. But boy he really brought up the smoldering intensity right away. That was terrific.”

Screenwriter Courtney Joyner
Late night classics – Prison
Jason Bene
2 June 2010

“There was such a charisma about him. I really thought that this film would make him a household name. Unfortunately, since the film wasn’t really released theatrically, it took Viggo a little longer to get there, but he still got there eventually.”

Renny Harlin
Review Fix Exclusive: Q & A With “Prison” Director Renny Harlin
Patrick Hickey Jr.
Review Fix
14 February 2013

He… handled almost all of his own stunts, a move that would earn him a stunt team t-shirt by Hodder by the end of production.

Locked Up 30 Years Later: Kane Hodder in ‘Prison’
by Meagan Navarro
6 March 2018

“It was a real low budget horror exploitation thing. The cast was a bunch of people [who were] New York stage actors. For that kind of movie, it was a pretty experienced group of actors; good actors got those parts. So, I was surrounded by people who really knew what they were doing, which was nice. It was fun to work with them. I mean, the story was what it was. It was a horror movie and it was on the cheap side and all that, but Renny Hahn had a certain amount of visual flair. Other that,I don't know if it stands out any more than the other movies at this time. I liked the location, I liked Wyoming.”

Viggo talking about Prison
The Fire That Fuels an Artist's Heart
By Carnell
March 1999

I know it’s clich√© to say an actor has intensity but I think Prison is one of [Viggo’s] more intense roles. There is a scene in the prison yard when he’s going toe-to-toe with a prisoner who’s trying to run the yard that is just cool as hell. His performance actually in Eastern Promises kind of reminds me of Prison because in both films he uses his eyes so much.

Prison Review
Daily Grindhouse
19 December 2011

Viggo Mortensen is something of a find as Burke, an inmate apparently bred on James Dean and Montgomery Clift films. All the supporting roles are solid as well. As for the Spirit of Forsythe, he’s not just another masked menace or a flesh-rotted presence, but more of a malevolent specter √† la The Keep. When his hell breaks loose, it’s quite chilling.

Prison Review

It’s interesting to watch him here as he channels a James Dean vibe, with his wedge-cut hair and sulky, almost shy delivery.

Prison Review
David Maine
20 February 2013

Viggo Mortensen, in an early role before stardom, offers a strong-willed, no-frills performance that suits the character wonderfully.

Martin Liebman
2 February 2013

This was Mortensen’s first lead role, too, but he delivers with a calm and extremely cool persona who holds his own against the more traditional thugs.

By Rob Hunter
filmschoolrejects Blu-ray review
16 February 2013

Prison features a strong cast of recognizable actors, many of whom were at the start of their careers. Viggo Mortensen (The Prophecy) has enjoyed the most success and it is easy to recognize his talent in this early piece. His performance is subtle as a short-time convict gradually pushed into the role of reluctant hero. Blu-ray review
19 February 2013

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Empire Pictures.

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Source: Hanway Films.
Found By: Eriko
Our thanks to Eriko for bringing us this first small glimpse of Viggo's latest project, Falling.

Writer & Director
Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen
Lance Henriksen
Sverrir Gudnason
Laura Linney
Hannah Gross
Terry Chen

Chris Curling
Viggo Mortensen
Daniel Bekerman

""Acclaimed actor Viggo Mortensen explores the fractures and contrasts that make up a modern family in his directorial debut, FALLING, an intimate drama about a man's relationship with his ageing father.

John Peterson (Mortensen) lives with his partner Eric (Chen) and their adopted daughter Monica in Venice, California, a long way from the traditional rural life he left behind. His father Willis (Henriksen) - an independent farmer from a bygone era, whose old-fashioned prejudices have not evolved in the slightest, lives alone on the old farm where John grew up. Willis' mind has begun to decline, so John brings him out west to stay at his home in California while he and his sister Sarah (Linney) try to figure out where their father should retire.

Willis' abrasive demeanour, by turns caustic and funny, is aggravated by his memory loss. This brings the past and the present into conflict, and causes old wounds to rise to the surface. As father and son confront the events that have torn them apart, they relive their shared memories of the last 40 years, including their differing recollections of John's mother Gwen (Gross), taking us on a journey from darkness to light, from rage and resentment through to acceptance and hard-won grace.

© Hanway Films. Images © Hanway Films.

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The Lord Of The Rings: 10 Aragorn Mannerisms From The Book Viggo Mortensen Nails

Found By: Chrissie

On the eve of Bilbo's and Frodo's birthdays, this is a fun article. Thanks to Chrissie for the find from SreenRant.
© New Line Productions Inc.
By Kristy Ambrose

You can talk about practical special effects or amazing set locations, but in the end, it's all about casting that makes a good movie great. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy cast included some amazing choices that brought many beloved literary characters to life. Viggo Mortensen was relatively unknown with some impressive supporting roles under his belt in big-name pictures like Witness and Crimson Tide when Peter Jackson found him. The crucial factor was whether or not Viggo Mortensen could handle both a leading role and one of literature's most complex and beloved characters, Aragorn, the descendant of Isildur and heir to the throne of Gondor.

As if carrying the weight of Tolkien's masterpiece wasn't enough, and we have to give props to Mortensen for being such a great Aragorn. Not only was he a compelling leading man, but he also brought Tolkien's vision to life. Viggo made us all believe that the King had finally returned. Here are 10 times Viggo Mortensen takes his cues from the book and just crushes it on screen as Aragorn, son of Arathorn.

You can talk about practical special effects or amazing set locations, but in the end, it's all about casting that makes a good movie great. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy cast included some amazing choices that brought many beloved literary characters to life. Viggo Mortensen was relatively unknown with some impressive supporting roles under his belt in big-name pictures like Witness and Crimson Tide when Peter Jackson found him. The crucial factor was whether or not Viggo Mortensen could handle both a leading role and one of literature's most complex and beloved characters, Aragorn, the descendant of Isildur and heir to the throne of Gondor.


The King and the Wizard

© New Line Productions Inc.
This is a reference to an ancient legend that Tolkien would have known quite well. The tales of King Arthur and Merlin are ancient, already part of a rich oral tradition centuries before they were written down, and Tolkien was trying to recreate that relationship.

Aragorn wavers between defiant and unsure in the books, and it is often in council with Gandalf that he finds his way. Mortensen makes this a reality in the movies with some help from the equally talented Ian McKellen, who also had some success bringing Tolkien's authentic vision to life.

The Inn and the Pipe

© New Line Productions Inc.
The mysterious Ranger's opening scene is stellar because it's lifted from the book almost word for word. That includes the scene itself as well as the dialogue and characters. Mortensen channels the brooding and mysterious Strider with perfect authenticity, a thrill for those who know the book, and a faithful interpretation of the literary figure for those who don't.

The quiet table in the corner, the low-hanging hood, the pipe, and eyes that are constantly on the watch, are all part of Tolkien's authentic vision.

Ranger Life

© New Line Productions Inc.
In the book, we're told about Aragorn's exploits in the wilds in great detail. In the movies, Viggo has to find a way to show us instead. His clothing, weapons, in-depth knowledge of the wilds and his scruffy appearance give us some obvious clues to what he does when he's not sitting in an inn babysitting hobbits.

The costuming and design people can't have all the credit, however. Mortensen's portrays Strider as a tough, no-nonsense character with rough edges that may not suit his bloodline but reflect his real character and upbringing, which is just how Tolkien wrote it.

Big Words

© New Line Productions Inc.
In the book, Aragorn speaks with different levels of formality depending on who he's with but he's always articulate. It's a reflection of his awareness of protocol, and as the future king, he knows he'll be on the receiving end of some pretty heavy respect in the future. Mortensen is also excellent in this respect.

We aren't surprised when we find out that Strider is Aragon, Isildur's heir, just based on his use of language alone. Tolkien was one of the 20th century's greatest masters when it comes to language, whether he was writing with it or creating them, and he carefully wove this into one of the story's most prominent characters.

Arwen Evenstar

© New Line Productions Inc.
If you read the books, you knew Tolkien was using Arwen and Aragorn as a callback to the story of Bern and Luthien, as it's central to the origin story of the One Ring, The Silmarillion. He references the old story continuously, either in dialogue, poetry or breaks for exposition in the books, to make sure the audience understands that this isn't just another love story but an epic tale of devotion that had echoed through the ages.

Mortensen brings this to life in several scenes, in particular, the one where he sings the song of Beren and Luthien. In both the movie and the book, the tale is told with both longing and sorrow as well as deep affection.

Swordfighting and Battlecries

© New Line Productions Inc.
In the books, Aragorn invokes Elendil, an ancient hero, when he draws his sword against his enemies. In the scene where the Uruk-hai army attacks the fellowship at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring movie, Strider throws himself into the fray while echoing this battle cry.

Elendil was the father of Isildur, and legend has it that he and his family escaped the destruction of Numenor to found the Kingdom of Gondor. Aragorn isn't just calling on his ancestors but a whole history and culture that make Middle Earth realistic and immersive. Mortensen makes us believe it when he starts cutting through Uruk-hai while calling on his godlike ancestor.

Look Foul, Feel Fair

© New Line Productions Inc.
When we first hear the reasoning that Strider can be trusted because a servant of the enemy would have a more pleasing appearance but somehow be less likable, we understand the concept but the book doesn't provide a visual. It's no accident that Tolkien is invoking Shakespeare here, too, as the line "fair is foul and foul is fair" is right out of Macbeth.

Viggo manages to perfectly illustrate Frodo's quote with the right amount of mysterious tragedy, faint hope, and an exiled mountain man brooding through his beard. It's just as Tolkien intended it.

Staring Death in the Face

© New Line Productions Inc.
"I do not fear death."

A quote from the book that also made it into the film, this line initiates the descent into The Paths of the Dead. Aragorn declares it with courage and defiance, and Mortensen rises to the occasion in the same way when the cameras are rolling.

These are some of the creepiest and darkest scenes in the books, but Aragorn guides the reader through it. Mortensen does the same while we hang back with Gimli and Legolas, brave as we can be in the face of living death.

Farewell to Boromir

© New Line Productions Inc.
Well, it is Sean Bean, so we're not that surprised that his character dies. What did surprise us was how he perfectly embodied Boromir, one of the most famously conflicted characters in western literature. It's interesting that even though we all knew his fate it still ripped our hearts out, and Aragorn shared our sadness.

Despite their differences, Aragorn recognizes Bormir as his kinsman and subject at the end, and Mortensen perfectly expresses the same grief and regret along with a healthy dose of revenge in the movie. He's not just hunting Orcs for Merry and Pippin's sake.

The Arrival in Gondor

© New Line Productions Inc.
This was an important moment for Aragorn. He had lived in exile for his whole life, and these statues welcomed him home to Gondor, the land of his ancestors. In the books, these statues are intended to replicate the likenesses of Anarion and Elendil and were known as The Pillars of Kings.

The wonder and joy that Aragorn expresses when seeing them are deeply moving. A stunning set-piece helps him out here, but most of the credit for the gravity of this scene belongs to Viggo, who admires them as they float by and refers to the statues as "my kin."

© SCREENRANT. Images © New Line Productions Inc.

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Last edited: 1 June 2020 18:13:05