The popularity force broke at the Rome Film Festival with Viggo Mortensen, the non-star American who owes his fame to Lord of the Rings, where he played Aragorn.
In a dark suit with a blue-red striped shirt, Mortensen is a sex-symbol who doesn't put on airs at all.
They have called him "no-ego Viggo", talk about his never complaining charm, his willingness to look towards intriguing experiences, like - really unusual for a Hollywood star - shooting a movie in Spanish.
In Alatriste, the blockbuster by Agustin Diaz Yanes, Mortensen acts in Cervantes' language, without any dubbing, the same as our Enrico Lo Verso, called to portray the opposing swordsman.
A big "cloak and sword" movie, that are no longer made today, it is not surprising that in Spain it has collected 16 million Euros in a few weeks, because it is based on the saga that the best-selling author Arturo Perez-Reverte has written about the valiant captain from the 17th century, Diego Alatriste (the plot evolves between 1622 and 1643, under the kingdom of Philip IV).
There was not much clapping after the preview for the press. The women especially didn't seem to value the movie.
Nevertheless Alatriste displays his own charm, throughout this time of lost loves, adopted sons, last ditch duels, massacres in Flandes and Inquisition intrigues that come one after the other in the story.
For the ones who want to pick up something else, there are also pictorial tributes to Velazquez, poetical quotes from Francisco de Quevedo and dramatic echoes from Lope de Vega.
Summarizing, we can define Alatriste as a sort of Mestiere delle Armi (popular movie by Ermanno Olmi, 2001) both popular and learned at the same time, perhaps a bit too long, but remarkable for the visual impact (Medusa has bought it for the Italian market).
Of course for Mortensen, by then specialized in heroic and athletic characters after the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Hidalgo, it's easy to portray this mercenary soldier, with a sort of "western" moustache and a scar-covered body.
A combination of a sad rogue, Alatriste comes out from the icy waters of Flandes in the very first scene, as an early sailor.
Imagine that in real life he is a pacifist: at the forefront in contesting Bush because of the action in Iraq, he has drawn his own personal t-shirts against the war, which highlight writings such as "Support our troops....Bring them home".
Poet, painter, photographer, he has launched the publishing house Perceval Press, he is also a piano player and a big horse lover (one of his books is called The Horse is Good). Mortensen owes his first name and family name to his Danish father, even if he was born in New York and spent many years in Argentina.
Introducing himself to the journalists, he says in good Italian: "I'm proud to have made this movie. It's a classic movie which will be remembered for a long time."
He is probably going a little too far, because Alatriste shows some faults in the plot and the "Butch Cassidy like" finale smacks of things we have already seen. But you have your spirit lifted by the passion that the forty-year-old+ (and always attractive) Mortensen puts in his words when talking about the movie.
In the movie he finds himself bringing up the son of a comrade who has died on the battlefield.
"It's a hard job. You know, my son Henry (from his marriage with the punk singer Exene Cervenka) is going to college. Based on my own experience, I can say - it's how we behave that is really important: even if we are tired or stressed, we as parents have to be good at listening, at talking."
He is a big fan of the San Lorenzo football team of Buenos Aires. He explains that he has grown up with the musicality of the Italian language in his ears.
"A wonderful language," he says, and fortunately he doesn't speak about spaghetti and mozzarella.
Ten years ago, when he wasn't yet famous, he filmed the movie Daylight in Cinecittà, with Sylvester Stallone.
"I needed only a quick review with the car driver coming here, to recall everything in my mind," he smiles.
If you ask him to explain his Captain, he answers: "Proud. But pride in a war can be a very bad thing. It prevents you from quitting when you should do. I'm with our soldiers, but going to Iraq was not a good choice."